March 10, 2007

Tel Aviv Cinemateque Librarian

Since returning to Israel as a place to live, I have discovered wonderful ways to learn about my fellow Israelis and our shared history, cultural differences, and multifaceted profiles. Besides attending weekly classes at the Gordon ulpan center for the intensive study of Hebrew and participating in a Hebrew literature course, I spend hours monthly gazing through the wide lens of Israel's local documentary film repertory. I watch these creations in the Tel Aviv Cinemateque Library.

Librarian, Dror Izhar (no relation to writer, politician, and cultural icon S.Yizhar) has an encyclopedic mind finely honed by years of film viewing and studies in history, culture, film-making, literature, Greek philosophy, and art (B.A., Tel Aviv University). "My M.A. (Bar Ilan University) and Ph.D. (Ben Gurion University of the Negev) are more concrete," Izhar explains. "The M.A. is on African-Americans in Hollywood film and TV during the Cold War, and the Ph.D. is on the [East] Indian Patriot's image in British film and TV during the Cold War."

Izhar's passion for the medium fuels his scholarship:
I was always passionate about films. … Jerry Lewis, Danny Kaye, Jean Gabin, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Alan Delon, Toto, Vittorio Gassman, Marcello Mastroianni, Alberto Sordi, Nino Manfredi, Lino Ventura, Richard Roundtree, John Wayne, Sidney Poitier, and countless fantastic performers from Japan, China, Russia, Israel (Shai K. Ophir and Gila Almagor), French and Italian comedies, espionage and thrillers, crime movies.

How did Izhar discover film, and why did he decide to study it?
I was not popular and not a successful student. So I went to the movies with girls, without girls, with boys my age, and alone, in front of the TV. Physically I sensed elation. Only in sex did I get that elation, so you could say that sex and movies motivate me.Buster Keaton and Vittorio De Sica triggered my interest in pursuing the medium.

At Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion universities, I met two remarkable people: Professor Shlomo Sand and Professor Frank Stern. They knew more than I about European cinema while I knew more about the rest of film, so we were even.

And while Izhar insists, “I'm really not into lists: The idea smells of inventory and grocery lists,” he admits to —
... being into everything exciting, revealing, documenting societies, neo-realism, some new wave and some Hollywood genres, British films of a certain period (forties, late fifties, sixties-to-eighties, and nineties), and new Hollywood. Japanese films, Chinese, Indian, and Latino-American movies, some Iranian, an odd Turkish movie here, an Australian movie there, a Hollywood musical.

So, when I ask for guidance, he considers my interests carefully, thinks out loud while scanning his vast mental database, and scrawls in my notebook a list of must-see films. These lists are my curriculum that during the past three years has included —
So many movies. Such an exquisite Library. Such a remarkable Librarian. Who knew? Now you do.

Update | June 2009  Dror became Dr. Dror Izhar on earning a PhD in history from Ben Gurion University of the Negev. He is developing into a book, his dissertation, "The Indian Patriot Image in British Commercial Film and TV (1956-1986." To listen to Dr. Dror discuss his work, with illustrations, watch the video, Love-Hate: Brits and E. Indian Patriots (8:17 minutes).


Anonymous said...

Your article really motivated me to ride over to the cinemateque
and to consult with Dror about films ,articles . It's a great opportunity to decide in what areas i'd really like to invest my time in and delve in. Thanks for the informative article . Elana - Tel-Aviv

Tamar Orvell said...

Lucky you! Consulting w Dror! Please give dash (regards) from me, and let me know what you discover in the library's vast resources — archives, holdings, and people.