FCG International Scenic Arts Award 2004: Amos Guitai


“For his close relationship to the social reality, first as a documentarian and then as a fictional film-maker. Amos Gitai united the opinion of the jury: the compromise and commitment to express through film-making his support of the intercultural sense that forms part of the understanding of different peoples. The award winner is, an artist committed with his time, that allows art to be at the service of the community; which means for the jury, a very important value that they would like to especially bring out in this edition.” According to the jury that met in Valladolid on June 21, 2004, chaired by, Ms. Sarah Halioua Bencheton, managing director of Happy Endings; and made up by the following members: Mr. José Antonio Pérez Piñar, director of "Cultura con Ñ"; Mr. José Luis Cuerda Martínez, cinema director; Mr. Manuel Erice Oronoz, delegate director of ABC in Castile and Leon; Mr. Daniel Pérez Fernández, playwright, director of the theatre, Teatro Principal of Zamora.


  Amos Guitai - Biography


A former architecture student who turned to filmmaking following a harrowing near-death experience, Amos Gitai entered the world of film as a documentarian and gradually gravitated toward more fictional celluloid subjects. Gitai's sometimes controversial works often strive to make sense of the endless cycle of violence in the Middle East, and his acute sense of social conscience often bleeds through even into his fictional works.


Gitai was born just two years after the state of Israel was established; his father was a classically trained architect and his mother the daughter of Zionist pioneers. After mandatory military service, the future director attempted to follow in his father's footsteps by studying architecture at Haifa's Technion Institute. It wasn't long before he ventured stateside to study at the University of California-Berkley. Gitai's education was interrupted with the breakout of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and it was while embarking on a search and rescue mission over Syria that his life would change forever. When the helicopter he was riding in was shot down by enemy gunfire, the cockpit exploded and the ensuing crash killed nearly everyone onboard except for Gitai. Though he would escape the tragedy with only minor physical injuries, the event shook the student to his very core -- sparking a move toward filmmaking by means of a Super-8 camera given to him by his mother as a birthday present.


Gitai's early abstract short films were comprised of obscure images of landscapes and political rallies, and revealed his rare gift for capturing powerful images; his ability to form a compelling narrative structure developed soon thereafter. In the years that followed, Gitai gained a worldwide reputation as a filmmaker unafraid to tackle difficult subjects who was unflinching in his dedication to exploring conflict and resolve to its fullest. Gitai focused his lens on everything from such intensely personal subjects as his home and family life to the intricate layers of life in the Middle East. Early efforts such as House (1980) and Field Diary (1982) explored the tragedy of Palestinian history so deeply that they were, not surprisingly, censored. After returning stateside to earn his Ph.D. in architecture from the University of California-Berkeley, Gitai even turned his lens on the United States for such works as In Search of Identity (1980) and American Mythologies (1981). A move to Paris found Gitai exploring the life of an exile in such fictional works as Berlin Jerusalem (1989, winner of the critic's prize at the Venice Film Festival). Frequent collaborations with acclaimed cinematographer Henri Alékan ensured that his films would be as visually compelling as their subject matter was mentally stimulating. After moving back to his hometown of Haifa in the mid-'90s, Gitai was as busy as ever behind the camera. Following his exploration of the events that changed his life in the 2000 war drama Kippur, Gitai contributed the segment "Israel" to the episodic drama 11'09''01 -- September 11, which probed the devastating effects of the terrorist attack on the United States on the eponymous date. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide.




1980        House (Bait) - 50 min. – Documentary

1981        Wadi - 40 min. - Documentary

In Search of Identity - 57 min. – Documentary

American Mythologies - 2 X 52 min. - Documentary

1982        Field Diary (Journal de Campagne - Yoman Sade) - 83 min. – Documentary

1983        Ananas - 78 min. – Documentary

1984        Bangkok-Bahrein (Labor for Sale) - 78 min. – Documentary

1985        Esther - 97 min. - Feature Film

1987        Brand New Day - 93 min. - Musical Documentary

1989    Berlin-Jerusalem - 89 min. - Feature Film

            Creation of the Golem - 60 min. - Docu-Drama

1991        Golem - The Spirit of Exile - 105 min. - Feature Film

Wadi, Ten Years Later - 97 min. - Documentary

1992        Metamorphosis of a Melody - 90 min. - Documentary/Theatre

1993        Queen Mary - 90 min. – Documentary

The Petrified Garden - 84 min. - Fiction Film

The War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of the Darkness - 90 min. - Documentary/Theatre

In the Valley of the Wupper - 90 min. – Documentary

Kippur War Memories - Documentary

1994        In the Name of the Duce - 60 min. – Documentary

Give Peace A Chance - 4 hours - Documentaries

1995        Devarim (Things) - 110 min. - Feature Film

1996        The Arena of Murder - 90 min. – Documentary

Milim - 90 min. - Theater/Documentary Fiction

1997        War and Peace in Vesoul - 83 min. - Improvised Fiction and Documentary

1998        A House in Jerusalem - 98 min. – Documentary

Yom Yom (Day After Day) - 100 min. - Feature Film

Kadosh (Sacred) - 110 min. - Feature Film

1999        Kippur - 120 min. - Feature Film

2001        Eden - Feature Film

Wadi Grand Canyon - Documentary

2002        Kedma - Feature Film

2003        Alila - Feature Film - IN POST-PRODUCTION





If you need more information: