Michael Roemer

F.: Robert M. Young. M.: Michael Roemer, Peter Vollstadt, Sara Miller. DCP. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Roemer’s rarely screened portrait of Israel just before the Six-Day War is a poetic essay film that counts among his most politically charged works – a charge made immediately clear by the haunting, damning image that opens the film: the corpse of a Holocaust victim. Faces of Israel powerfully echoes the lyrical yet understated intellectual montage best refined by Chris Marker with its observational exploration of everyday life and labor in Israel. Eschewing the kind of voice-over dialogue forced upon Cortile Cascino, Roemer instead allows his footage to create spaces for empathy and understanding that transcends language, inviting the viewer into intimate familial and sacred moments including, most powerfully, the welcoming of new arrivals to Israel. Throughout these scenes in Faces of Israel, whole gestures, emotion and setting are allowed to say more than words ever could. Roemer shot his footage in 1966 while in Israel to research  a never realized film about Martin Buber. An earlier version of this film was screened in 1966 on PBS, but that is not the same, far superior film that will be screened here.

Haden Guest

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