Avenge but one of my two eyes

A short excerpt from the Booklet essay by Mark Cousins

Israel has not produced a single master filmmaker, no Sergio Leone, no Ingmar Bergman, no Alfred Hitchcock. When I was writing my book The Story of Film, a history of world cinema, I wanted to include Israeli film but, in the end, didn’t, just as I didn’t write about movies from the country of my birth, Ireland. Neither place had contributed enough.

Over the years I’d seen decent Israeli movies about the class conflict between Ashkanazi and Sepharadic Jews, about generational conflict and identity crisis. I had liked films by Assi Dayan and, in particular, veteran documentarist Amos Gitai. Ron Havilios’ six-hour film Fragments-Jerusalem had moved me considerably. Jewish directors like Ernst Lubitsch, Billy Wilder, Abraham Polonsky, Claude Lanzmann and Steven Spielberg are central to the art industry of the medium of film, but not so Israelis.

Why has the country underachieved? Firstly, and most obviously, Israel is young and small. Secondly, its Arts Ministry does not seem to value film much – just 5% of the culture budget was allocated to this most expensive of arts in 1995. Thirdly, the non-emergence of a Leone or Hitchcock has meant that talented young Israelis have no significant role models, so cinema isn’t something that they imagine doing. Fourthly, perhaps Israeli filmmakers have felt the insecure, harried weight of their country on their backs so much that their work has been weighed down by it.

A recent Israeli film Avenge but One of My Two Eyes, just released on DVD, certainly shoulders such national themes, but if I were writing my book now I would include it and its writer-director-editor Avi Mograbi. Like many of the best Middle Eastern films, it is a documentary, its director’s fifth. And like many such films, it is fuelled by a sense that an inured Israel is committing a crime against Palestine. Avenge but One of My Two Ideas debates that crime better than any Israeli film I have seen. It starts on a chilly dawn on the bleak mountain of Masada and unfolds into a brilliant cinematic essay about the causes of moral blindness.

Mark Cousins’ complete Essay, from which this short excerpt is taken, appears in the Booklet of the DVD release.

A short excerpt from the Booklet essay by Mark Cousins

Film Reviews
Strictly Film School
Reverse Shot

DVD Reviews
DVD Beaver

Interviews with director Avi Mograbi on his other films – Happy Birthday, Mr Mograbi
Avi Mograbi article in Sight & Sound June 2014

2006 Rotterdam Film Festival / Amnesty International – DOEN Award
2005 Cannes Film Festival / Official Selection
2005 New York Film Festival / Official Selection
2005 Marseille International Documentary Festival / Special Mention

Disc Info

Avenge but one of my two eyes Boxshot

Israel/France 2005
Length / Main Feature: 100 minutes
Length / Special Feature: 15 minutes
Sound: Original Stereo
Colour 1.77:1 16x9 Enhanced
Language: Hebrew/Arabic/English
Subtitles: English On/Off, Arabic On/Off
PAL R0  
RRP: £12.99
Release Date: 13 Nov 2006


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