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Eyal Sivan (born 1964) is an Israeli filmmaker and critic noted for his criticisms of Israeli policies.
Born in Haifa, Sivan attended school in Jerusalem, but dropped out to pursue photography. Though he found work as a fashion photographer in Tel Aviv, Sivan left Israel in 1985 for Paris, where the political climate was more tolerant of his views.
His first film, Aqabat-Jaber, passing through, released in 1987, follows the daily life of Palestinian refugees at the Aqabat-Jaber camp in the West Bank. The film won numerous awards. His next movie, Izkor: Slaves of Memory (1991) set the route for his future work, starting the conflict with official Israeli institutions. In Izkor, Sivan explores the ways of instrumentalising the memory in the Israeli educational system and dispels the "teleology" of the Zionist super-narrative in his foundational tenets - linearity and coherence. The film discusses the politics of remembrance, a term introduced by the historian Raul Hilberg, as applied to the Jewish state and its politics.
Sivan's 2004 film, Route 181: Fragments of a Journey in Palestine-Israel, was created with Palestinian author Michel Khleifi. It presents his view of the banality of evil in the Israeli army. Traveling across the 1947 border established by the UN Resolution 181 to the West Bank they meet an Israeli soldier with philosophic inclination, who loves Kafka and who follows orders without question. Although the movie explicates no similarities on the Nazi and Zionist realities, they are implied. Sivan targets Zionism as it is presented as an exemplar of refusing to recognize the permanent existence of the banality of evil. The film led to the accusations by a prominent French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut that Sivan is a self-hating Jew and that the portions of the film dealing with the Holocaust had been plagiarized.
|“||I think that he mocks the Palestinians, he has no compassion for them. It is a bad film, fastidious, irritating, Holocaust-denying, profoundly immoral, and dishonest, and it centers around a single connecting thread, which is this Route 181 that has never existed. He neglects to say that on 15 May 1948, the day that the state of Israel was created, five Arab armies invaded the country, and there were 6,000 deaths among the 600,000 Israelis that made up the country. The markers of dishonesty: we never know where we are, in wastelands, no man's lands, we never see Israel, we do not know who is speaking, not a single name is given in the film. In Mr. Sivan's films, the witnesses do not sign their testimonies.||”|
Further investigation of the banality of evil is evident in two more of Sivan's films. I Love You All (2004), a film on the surveillance and the control in DDR also speaks about it - representing extreme and almost unbelievable image of a society which has acquired one super-narrative and developed a system which makes it impossible to even speak about the possibility of anything outside it. Citizens K. (2007) is a story of the political success of the Kaczynski brothers (Jarosław and Lech) in Poland, though a much brighter social satire, in its essence showing how one obscure, conservative, and backward idea (nationalism in this particular case), manipulated and popularized in the market and the media, can gain roots and spread to the point of being accepted as an unquestionable truth and the non-recognition.
- Aqabat-Jaber, passing through (1987)
- Izkor: Slaves of Memory (1991)
- Itsembatsemba: Rwanda One Genocide Later (1996)
- The Specialist (1999)
- I Love You All (2004)
- Route 181: Fragments of a Journey in Palestine-Israel (2004)
- Citizens K. (2007)
- Jaffa, The Orange's Clockwork (2009)
- Thomas Keenan & Eyal Weizman (2007). "The Barber Trial: Sivan vs. Finkielkraut". Cabinet Magazine (26).