Monthly Screenings
הרוחצים בירקון / קורין קיציס, דליה קסטל
A Glimpse at Archive Treasures Through the Eyes of Leading Filmmakers
First Exposure at the Jerusalem Film Festival

As part of the digitization project at the Israel Film Archive–Jerusalem Cinematheque, whose goal is to make thousands of audio-visual works from 1896 to 2018 accessible, the Cinematheque petitioned a number of unique Israeli filmmakers to create brief (20-40 seconds) works that breathe new life in to these hidden treasures, and invites the public to discover the riches embedded in the moving images on film reels which will soon be available for all to view on a first-of-its-kind website in Israel.

The short films will premiere at the Jerusalem Film festival (26.7–4.8) before screenings of the films participating in the festival and will also be featured on the archive’s soon to be launched website alongside other rare archival treasures: feature films, documentaries, news reels, advertisements, student films, etc.

The filmmakers participating in this unique project are: Avi Nesher (Halahaka, Turn Left at the End of the World, Past Life), Ran Tal (Children of the Sun, Garden of Eden, Museum), Moran Ifergan (Wall), and animators Corinne Kitzis and Dalia Kastel.

The filmmakers were granted access to the archives at the Jerusalem Cinematheque where they rummaged through the materials for clips and images which they found particularly interesting. The “digging” experience is in itself fascinating: the discovery of a cornucopia of materials telling our story over the past 120 years in picture and sound, which have been buried out of sight on film reels and archive servers.

Avi Nesher chose to create a space in which faith meets art in a clip titled Houses of Prayer. In the clip, images of people praying in synagogues and churches are juxtaposed with different audiences in old movie theatres. According to Nesher, “It is not for nothing that in prayer, Jews are obligated to be part of a minyan, in other words to participate in a ritual conducted within the framework of the community, and such is also the collective experience of the cinema, which represents another type of ritual.” The clip ends with an encounter between faith and art from A Hole in the Moon (1964) in which the young Uri Zohar kneels and kisses the sacred land. The documentary sections were taken from news reels, and scenes from feature films were sourced from canonical works as well as less familiar films such as Burning Sands (1960). Link to Houses of Prayer:

Ran Tal focuses on Helmar Lerski, a German-Jewish filmmaker and one of the most important photographers of the 1930s and 40s and of pre-state Israel. In his clip, Larski with Color, Tal features a moment from Larski’s film Hebrew Melody from 1935 to which he applies a unique coloring technique and contemporary sound thereby providing a new dimension to an historic work worthy of a fresh point of view reflecting the present. Link to Larski with Color:

Moran Ifergan burrowed home movies and news reels filmed in pre-state Israel and in the early days of the State kept in the archive but hardly known to the public. She finally selected images from the Fred Monson and Hannah Himsley-Farkas collections. Monson was an industrialist, philanthropist, and active Zionist American who filmed in Israel using his personal 16mm camera and color film to capture dozens of events and personages in Israeli culture and society from the 1950s onwards. The collection has been made accessible thanks to Avishai Kfir. Himsley-Farkas held a PhD in biology from the Hebrew University. From the time she began her studies in the 1940s, she documented her family, the landscapes and people of Israel, and major public events such as the inauguration of the Weismann Institute in Rehovot, with her 8mm. camera. The digitization of the collection was made possible by her family.

Drawing on these collections, Ifergan chose images of childhood and the families and created "starting point." A work that presents two different realities of childhood in those years - two worlds that existed simultaneously in those years in Israel. Thus, the archive was exposed as having materials that reflected various and complex realities. The archive filled with other stories, events of all kinds – more than one can imagine – that have yet to be discovered. The active search in the archive reveals the history of this land, its multiple shades and contours. Link to Starting Point

Corrine Kitzis and Dalia Kastel chose a fleeting, seemingly marginal, moment from the 1920s’ Yomani Moledet – the first newsreels in the country to systematically document both minor and major events – which were screened in cinemas of the day before the feature film. In the clip, titled The Swimmers in the Yarkon, a family is swimming for pleasure in the Yarkon river in Tel Aviv of the 1920s. Although this is a moment of no historical significance, the “freezing” of the swimmers in time on film and its screening one hundred years later offer us a glimpse into a world that is part of our ever-evolving narrative. The moment is interjected by animated segments by the filmmakers. Link to The Swimmers in the Yarkon:


Background on the Archive Project

In 2017, the Israel Film Archive–Jerusalem Cinematheque commenced a pioneering project for the digitization, digital restoration, and the rendering accessible of over 5000 hours of audio-visual documentary and creative works from pre-state Palestine and the State of Israel. These include rare heritage treasures and films (shot on film) from the very first visual documentation of Jerusalem and Jaffa in 1896, just one year after the invention of cinema.

In the framework of the project, a professional laboratory of the highest international standards and the first of its kind in Israel, was established for the conversion of film reels into digital formats, including disintegrating reels, often the only surviving print, not fit for screening. Thus, the archive is realizing its designated purpose: to be a home for Israeli and Eretz Israel cinema and audio-visual cultural-historical assets which together create a mosaic of different narratives that shed light on this place in which we live: feature films, documentaries, news reels, advertisements, experimental films, home movies, public announcements, culture, society, and many more. These heritage treasures join hundreds of new “digital-born” films from the finest of contemporary cinema submitted to the archive monthly.

For the past 60 years the archive has served scholars and researchers, institutions, and Cinematheques, filmmakers, and the public in Israel and aboard by way of screenings, conferences, tours of the archive and digital laboratory, and the digital restoration of Israeli films such as Life According to Agfa (Assi Dayan 1992) which will premiere at a special screening in the upcoming Jerusalem Film Festival.

The highlight of the project is the Archive’s innovative website with hundreds of hours of valuable materials accessible to the public, experiential viewing tools, and illuminating historical and cultural content packages for the public, researchers, students, and filmmakers and artists around the world. The advanced preservation systems installed in the archive ensure that these assets are available to future generations who will be able to view history as it unfolds in sound and moving images, and match them with the stories they choose to tell about their homeland. Israel Film Archive–Jerusalem Cinematheque is proud to be a permanent home for these treasures. We wish to thank our supporters without whom this project would not be possible: Yaglom Family, Beracha Foundation, Mifal Hapais, Authority for the Development of Jerusalem, Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage, and Tziyunai Derech Project.