|Birth Day:||October 11, 1950|
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He earned a Ph.D. in Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley.
In 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, Gitai had to interrupt his architecture studies as he was called up to the reserve service as part of a helicopter rescue crew. Gitai was wounded when the helicopter he was in was hit by a Syrian missile. During his missions, he used a Super 8 camera to document the war. After the war, he embarked on a career as a filmmaker and made his first documentary in 1980, House.
Gitai began his career directing mostly documentaries. In 1980 he directed his first full-length film House, that follows a house in West Jerusalem, abandoned during the 1948 war by its Palestinian owner. In the film, Gitai follows the different house tenants over the years, making the house the focus of the israeli socio-political conflict. It opens a democratic cinematic space around the same house where a split of perspectives on the situation and its history takes place.
The film was rejected and censored by the Israeli television, an event which marks the filmmaker's conflictual relationship with the authorities of his country. It is to make this film exist in spite of the censorship and to continue along the path he had just begun, that he says at that time: "I decided to become a filmmaker". This relationship was soon to be fueled by the controversy surrounding of his film Field Diary, made before and during the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and resulting in a long exile in France (1983-1993).
In Gitai's body of work can also be found stage works. Like his cinematic interest, also in his theatrical pieces, Gitai focuses on the tension between the personal and the historical, between the local and the universal. Many of his works have been presented at leading institutions around the world, such as the Avignon Festival in France, the Paris Philharmonic and the Lincoln Center in New York. Among his works, Metamorphosis of a Melody that opened the Venice Biennale in 1993 and The War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness with Jeanne Moreau that was presented in Festival d'Avignon in 2009 and in Odeon Theater in Paris in 2010.
Cinema installations, exhibitions and book publications are integral to Gitai's work. He has exhibited and published in leading institutions in Israel and around the world such as the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the Tel Aviv Museum, the Pompidou Center in Paris, MoMa in New York, the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid and more. Many of his exhibitions were dedicated to his parents Munio and Efratia, such as the 1996 retrospective initiated at the Pompidou Center, which deals with the work of his father (the only retrospective devoted to an Israeli architect in the Paris Museum) or the publication of his mother's letters - Efratia Gitai's letters in 1994.
To his biographical elements (his family origins, the generation to which he belongs, his architectural studies, the making of House and its effects) must be added the experience of the Yom Kippur War, in which he almost died at the age of 23, an experience that would influence all his future work. The traumatic event itself is the focus of a series of experimental short films and documentaries, before directing the film Yom Kippur in 2000, which definitively consecrated its stature after its positive reception at the Cannes Film Festival. The evocation of this intimate and common experience served by an impressive plastic sense is exemplary of Amos Gitai's art. The film also marks the beginning of the director's collaboration with screenwriter Marie-José Sanselme that dates until today.
At the same year he created the piece Efratia Gitai: Letters, which premiered at the Odeon Theater in Paris in 2010. Similar to The War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness, Gitai worked with Jeanne Moreau who was reading his mother's letters.
In 2011, he presents the exhibition Traces at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, the Bauhaus Museum in Dessau, Germany and the Art Museum at Kibbutz Ein Harod in Israel. In Traces, Gitai creates a audio-visual stroll with great intimacy through images taken from fourteen of his films. Images and sounds, side by side, of destroyed walls in World War II, in them stolen property of the Jews living there, or of a crowd chanting "Mussolini" during Mussolini's granddaughter's election campaign in a video taken in Auschwitz. From the violent reality of the Middle East to the soft waltz of a veteran couple on the evening of their arrest. The journey Gitai offered is challenging and shaky, evoking the violence of its history and echoes, and creating a personal reflection on the xenophobia that can change fates. In doing so, Gitai builds the sensitive conditions for sharing the memory of places and of events.
In 2014 he directs the film Tsili , inspired by the novel by Aharon Appelfeld, and tells the story of the wandering of its heroine submerged in the nightmare of the Second World War. Tsili, a young Jewish woman, gathers all the forces of intuition and vitality to survive in this desperate universe. starring Sarah Adler, Meshi Olinski, and Lea Koenig. adapted from a novel by Aharon Appelfeld, he returns to the Second World War and the Holocaust:
In 2015, his film The Last Day of Yitzhak Rabin was presented in competition at the Venice Mostra and then at the Toronto International Film Festival. Twenty years after the assassination of the Israeli Prime Minister by a religious right-wing student on November 4, 1995 in Tel Aviv, Gitai looks back on this traumatic event. Placing the assassination in its political and social context, Yitzhak Rabin's Last Day mixes fictional reconstructions and archival footage in this political thriller that is also about the growing crisis in contemporary Israeli society.
After directing his film Rabin, The Last Day in 2015, Gitai continues investigating Rabin's murder in presenting the exhibition Yitzhak Rabin : Chronicle of an Assassination, presented at the MAXXI Museum in Rome, Italy, at the BOZAR Museum in Brussels, Belgium and at the Fondation Lambert in Avignon, France. Through working with ceramics, photographs and video installations, Gitai enables a new reading of the events leading up to the murder.
In 2016, Gitai continues the work he begun with his film The Last Day of Yitzhak Rabin in an installation presented first at the Maxxi Museum, Rome, under the title 'Chronicle of an Assassination Foretold', then at the BOZAR Museum in Brussels and at the Fondation Lambert in Avignon (spring/summer 2016). Ceramics, photographs, video installations and archival documents take up space to offer a new reading of the events leading up to Yitzhak Rabin's assassination.
This latest exhibition echoes a theatrical performance given in the Cour d'Honneur of the Palais des Papes on 10 July 2016 for the Avignon Festival. Based on the memories of Leah Rabin, Yitzhak Rabin's wife, Amos Gitai imagines a "able with four female protagonists, two actresses, Hiam Abbass and Sarah Adler, and two musicians, Edna Stern (piano) and Sonia Wieder-Atherton (cello), four voices associated in a recitative mode, between lament and lullaby, which go back in time.
Also in 2016, a 540-page book dedicated to Amos Gitai is published by the Enrico Navarra Gallery and the Sébastien Moreu publishing house. The book includes more than 250 reproductions from films, location scouting and filming, as well as family archives, Amos Gitai's creations and interviews with Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Arthur Miller, Hou Hanru, Guy Amsellem, Annette Michelson, Richard Ingersoll, Élisabeth Lebovici and Stephan Levine.
In July 2016, a 540-page book on Amos Gitai was published by Galerie Enrico Navarra and Sébastien Moreu. The book includes more than 250 reproductions from movies and research, but also family archives and creations by Amos Gitai and 7 conversations between Gitai and : Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Guy Amsellem, Arthur Miller, Hou Hanru, Annette Michelson, Richard Ingersoll, Elisabeth Lebovici & Stephan Levine), two poems (Mount Carmel and Lullaby to My Father) and a poetic essay on the Golem.
Amos Gitai often teaches and attends conferences around the world. In 2017, he was a guest professor at University of California, Berkeley, where he studied in his youth. His lectures focused on his documentary and fictional work. Through the screening of several films, the audience was able to dive into Israel's political and social issues. As a skilled architect, Gitai has a unique way of understanding and representing a human experience through time and space, and through the films House, City and Border, Gitai managed to present a complex narrative and image of Israel in the context of a larger global discourse.
2018 is a year of intense activity for the director, invited by the Venice Mostra to present two films in the competition of the Venice Film Festival. A Tramway in Jerusalem (2019) is a themed comedy that humorously observes moments of daily life on the Jerusalem tramway. The film stars 36 Israeli actors Yaël Abecassis, Hanna Laszlo, singer Noa Achinoam Nini, Palestinians and Europeans Mathieu Amalric and Pippo Delbono. On this tramway line that connects several neighborhoods in Jerusalem, from east to west, recording their variety and differences, this comedy humorously looks at moments in the daily lives of a few passengers, brief encounters that reveal a whole mosaic of human beings. It is these fragments of stories and memories that make up the contemporary reality of Israel.
In 2018, after being elected as Chair in Artistic Creation at the Collége de France in Paris, Gitai was invited to give a series of 12 lessons and lectures on his cinematic work through an ethical, political and artistic lens, called 'Crossing the Borders'. His lessons were: The documentary as metaphor; "I don't politicise my films, they have politicised me"; Depicting War; Space and Structure, Cinema and Architecture; Cinema and History; Is Cinema More Authoritarian Than Literature?; Collective Mythologies and Memories; Chronicle of an Assassination.
In 2019, the stage version of A Letter to a Friend in Gaza premiered at the Spoleto Festival in the United States. The piece is of a captivating, demanding, challenging and lyrical multimedia. At a time when art and entertainment are often synonymous, the play restores confidence in the theater's ability to ask difficult political and cultural questions. The audience cannot remain passive, and takes on the difficult task of understanding the theatrical experience in the face of his thoughts, perceptions and opinions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead of proposing theory or solution, the play serves as a powerful trigger for much-needed political imagination. A Letter to a Friend in Gaza was originally a 34-minute film screened in 2018 at the Venice Festival. It was Nigel Redon, the director of the Spoleto Festival, who suggested Gitai to work on a stage version for the festival. His film and stage work share texts and actors, yet, paradoxically, the structure and feel of the film seem more theatrical, while the open horizon and stratified composition of the half-hour theatrical version give the impression of cinema.
In 2019, he was a guest professor at Columbia University in New York.
Currently, Amos Gitai is 70 years, 9 months and 13 days old. Amos Gitai will celebrate 71st birthday on a Monday 11th of October 2021.
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