... in den Mittelpunkt ihres Sujets und sieben Jahre andauernden Recherche rückt.
Miriam Weissenstein ist eine außergewöhnliche Frau, die mensch einfach lieben muss. Das gelingt ihr vor allem mit ihrem trockenen Humor, ihrem energischen Auftreten und ihrer Liebe zu dem ältesten Fotogeschäft in Tel Aviv. Das "Zalmania Pri-Or" in der Allenby-Straße 30 führte sie gemeinsam mit ihrem Mann, dem Fotografen Rudi Weissenstein. Über 70 Jahre lang arbeiteten sie hier Hand in Hand. Er machte die Fotos, sie kümmerte sich um den Laden. Einige der bekanntesten Fotos der israelischen politischen Führungsriege der ersten Stunde an hatte Rudi vor seiner Kamera und bis heute befinden sich die unersetzlichen Negative der Fotos der Unabhängigkeitserklärung bei Miriam zu Hause. Zusammen mit ihm dokumentierte sie die Geschichte und die Persönlichkeiten des jungen Staates über Jahrzehnte. Wer im Schaufenster ihres Ladens als großes Porträt hing, wurde gewählt – darin waren sich alle einig.
Alle lukrativen Angebote, das über eine Million sorgsam archivierter und katalogisierter Negative zu verkaufen, lehnt Miriam stets ab.
Nach Rudis Tod führt die 96-jährige das Geschäft für einige Jahre allein – bis ihr Enkel Ben ihr dabei hilft, das Bilderarchiv zu verwalten und Ausstellungen in aller Welt zu organisieren.
Die Kamera der Fotografin und Dokumentarfilmerin Tamar Tal ist ganz dicht dran und doch nie voyeuristisch, wenn die beiden debattieren und versöhnen, sie zeigt, wie sie miteinander arbeiten und gemeinsam Höhen und Tiefen erleben.
Der mehrfach preisgekrönte Film "Life in Stills" erzählt sensibel und ohne künstliches Pathos eine berührende Geschichte über die Liebe, das Leben, Mut und Hingabe. Nicht zuletzt der umwerfende Humor und die unerschütterliche Hartnäckigkeit Miriam Weissensteins machen sie für jede/n Zuschauer/in unvergesslich.
Das AVIVA-Interview mit der Dokumentarfilmerin und Fotografin TamarTal
Tamar Tal beim 18. Jüdischen Filmfestival Berlin und Potsdam. © Sharon Adler
AVIVA-Berlin: "Life In Stills" is your first feature documentary and has been shown in many festivals since its premier. It also won "Best Film" and "Best Editing" award at the Docaviv Film Festival 2011 as well as the "Publikumspreis" at the 18. Jüdisches Filmfestival Berlin und Potsdam. What is it that people love and cry about your documentary?
Tamar Tal: I think people are touched by Miriam and Ben and their special relationship, Miriam reminds many of the viewers of their mothers or grandmothers, others fall in love in Ben...
AVIVA-Berlin: After completing your short film on Miriam and the PhotoHouse (Zalmania), called "The Iron Lady & The Photohouse" you decided to carry on filming and continue documenting their story. What was it about this story that made you want to keep on researching and filming for 7 years. Why couldn´t you get this story out of your mind?
Tamar Tal: The short film focused on Miriam and her daily life in the shop. It was only after completing the short film that I met Ben, her grandson. As he was starting to show interest in the shop, I watched the interaction between them and realized this is going to be an interesting journey for the both of them since they were only starting to develop a bond. Miriam and Ben were not close to each other at all before Ben has decided to join the shop.
AVIVA-Berlin: You are not only the director and co-producer on "Life in Stills" but you are also a photographer - you studied at Camera Obscura School of Arts in Tel Aviv.
How did you feel when you first walked into the PhotoHouse in Allenby-Steet 30? What did the place look like, how did it smell?
Tamar Tal: The first time I entered this legendary shop I was amazed. I felt like I had stepped into a time machine, travelling to the 50s-60s: The wooden drawers, the smell of old photos, Miriam was sitting there alone. I immediately fell in love with that 92 years old lady, being so sharp-minded and clever. We became really good friends since, like there wasn´t a 67 years gap between us...
AVIVA-Berlin: Miriam Weissenstein (born Arenstein in 1913) immigrated to Palestine at the age of 8. Her husband Rudi was 25 when he also immigrated in 1936. They both were born in the Czech Republic. The day after they first met, the couple went to Galilee and soon started to photograph the country. Four years later they opened "Zalmania", and while Rudi took the pictures Miriam managed the shop.
What was your first impression of Miriam Weissenstein, who was still working in the shop at the age of 96?
Tamar Tal: She was extraordinary. Her memory was outstanding, she remembered every photo, where it was taken and how. She was still able to really tease the clients and make them laugh. She had dreams and missions, and was always thinking about tomorrow. The fact that she was needed in the shop kept her alive for that long. No one else could replace her. I believe that years after, when she realized Ben has learned all the secrets of the archive and Photo House, and the fact that she trusted him to continue her and Rudi´s Life work, that she could at last depart from this world peacefully.
AVIVA-Berlin: How did she react when you first asked her if you could film her, and (how) did she change in front of the camera during the time you were shooting? You showed very intimate and emotional moments in her life...
Tamar Tal: In the beginning she played hard to get although she really liked the attention I gave her. She made me go through many "tests" to show her I am really serious about making the film. In the first years, she also liked to tease me by talking to the camera and to me, asking me questions and making comments about Ben to me... so I had a lot of great scenes but in all of them she was very aware of the camera and me. I think after 2-3 years she started really getting used to me and the camera, and that is how I captured those very intimate moments.
AVIVA-Berlin: How did you feel when you showed the film for the first time? What was Miriam´s reaction?
Tamar Tal: We had an amazing premiere night in Docaviv Int´l Documentary Film Festival, the energy in the theatre was electrifying! I remember people clapping hands after one of her jokes, and I thought to myself: WOW, this is really a strong reaction for a joke in a film...
After that we had our International Premiere in Dok Leipzig, which was a highlight for the film, it was the first time we showed it to an audience outside of Israel, and we were concerned that maybe the film will be too Peripheral or too nostalgic for audiences abroad... but the crowed loved it! It was only then that we realize how universal this relationship is. Since then the film was in more than 30 festivals and won more than 10 international awards. Miriam´s first reaction to the film was: "It´s interesting to me"..... by that she meant that she does not get why would anybody else think her life is interesting... I am sure that from up there she is happy to see that people around the world found her life very interesting...
AVIVA-Berlin: Did meeting Miriam Weissenstein and making the documentary change your life in any way? What was the most moving moment in the filming process?
Tamar Tal: The film was definitely a life-changing experience. Miriam was a great inspiration to me, her passion for life, for work and art. You gain a lot when you observe people. I was almost as a family relative, but still could have the point of view of an outsider. I had a lot of touching moments during the process of making this film, but I think being with Miriam at the age of 97 in Germany for the opening of the exhibition, was one of the pick moments. I saw how alive she was in those days in Frankfurt, she was so proud she made it. We were all so proud of her.
AVIVA-Berlin: Did the making of your documentary also influence your attitude towards photography?
Tamar Tal: Definitely. I think knowing the archive so thoroughly, made me acknowledge the power of documentation, the power of a still photograph which can tell a whole story of a life, people at a period of time. When I take photos today or shoot videos, I constantly have in my mind the meaning that it might will have in the future.
AVIVA-Berlin: The archive of Rudi and Miriam Weissenstein contains more than over a million negatives and portrays the early days of Israel. One of Rudi´s most famous pictures is that of the Declaration of Independence, in which David Ben Gurion proclaims the State of Israel. The photographs also show how Tel Aviv has changed and developed in so many ways over the years. Which photograph do you think is the most striking photograph?
Tamar Tal: There are so many photos that I find striking... I think as a native Tel Aviv person (who has to endure the infamous August heat waves), I must say that I am always amazed by the photo of the snow in 1950. It happened one time 60 years ago, never happened since, and I am sure that if I haven´t seen this photo, I would never believe my parents that it is actually happened...
AVIVA-Berlin: In 1991 in Tel Aviv, 1,500 buildings in the old town were classified as historical monuments – but not 30 Allenby Street! The building was not on the municipal preservation list, so the photo store had to move. Until it is allowed to return to a new six-storey building, it has a temporary residence at 5 Tchernichovsky Street. Do you know when the store will move back to its original location? How did Miriam and her grandson feel about having to move after 71 years? How did they fight against the decision?
Tamar Tal: Miriam and Ben had a long and tough struggle in this decision, in a certain point it became a public struggle for citizens who didn´t want to give up on this legendary shop. For a lot of them it was a place where they can really connect to their childhood, having their city changed so much.
AVIVA-Berlin: Could you tell us about your future projects, what will be next and what you´re working on at the moment?
Tamar Tal: At the moment I am a full time mother, with a 2nd child on the way, but I am researching for an upcoming documentary film. Still in early stages I can say it´s inspired by the last summer of social revolution in Israel.
AVIVA-Berlin: We wish you all the best and hope to see you soon when you come to Berlin again!
Life In Stills
Israel 2011, 60 min. Hebrew & German, English Subtitles
Written and Directed by: Tamar Tal
Producer: Barak Heymann
Co-Producer: Tamar Tal
Cinematographers: Daniel Kedem, Tamar Tal
Editor: Tal Shefi, Additional Editing: Eyal Tsarfati
Original Score: Alberto Shwartz
Research: Tamar Tal
Production Manager: Tali Shamir Werzberger
Sound Design: Aviv Aldema
On line editor: Yoav Raz
LAUFZEIT 58 Minuten
FORMAT DVD-5 Code 0
SPRACHE Originalfassung (deutsch, englisch, hebräisch) mit deutschen Untertiteln
BONUSMATERIAL Kurzfilm "The Iron Lady And The Photohouse", Kinotrailer, Publikumsgespräch, nicht verwendete Aufnahmen
FREIGEGEBEN ohne Altersbeschränkung
VERTRIEB good!movies/Indigo, VÖ: erscheint am 11. Januar 2013 als Kauf-DVD bei GMfilms/good!movies
Weitere Infos zum Film und eine Liste der Kinos, in denen "Life in Stills" in Deutschland gezeigt wird, finden Sie unter:
Zu "Life in Stills" steht für PädagogInnen ab sofort medienpädagogisches Begleitmaterial für Schulvorstellungen zur Verfügung. Es kann unter folgendem Link heruntergeladen werden:
Sondervorstellungen für Schulen sind jederzeit möglich. Interessierte Schulen können sich an ihr lokales Kino wenden.
TamarTal photography www.tamartal.com
The Photo House: www.pri-or.com
Weiterlesen auf AVIVA-Berlin:
Gershon-Klein-Filmpreise für FOOTNOTE, SIX MILLION AND ONE und Publikumspreis für LIFE IN STILLS
18. Jüdisches Filmfestival Berlin und Potsdam
Informationen über das Jüdische Filmfestival Berlin & Potsdam finden Sie unter:
Best Film Award and Best Editing Award DocAviv Int´l Documentary Film festival, Israel 2011
Talent Dove Award, Dok Leipzig Int´l Film Festival, Germany 2011
Grand Prix - Best Film in Festival, Bar International TV Festival, Montenegro 2011
The Student Jury Award One World International Human Rights
Documentary Film Festival, Czech Republic 2012
Special mention Award, DocuDays Film festival for human rights, UA
Best Film in Generation category, Doc Edge Film Festival, New Zealand, 2012
Hot Docs Audience Award- Top 5 films Audience favorite, Toronto 2012
Audience Award – Krakow Int´l Film Festival, Poland 2012
Best Documentary, Magnolia Award of Shanghai TV Festival, 2012
Audience Award – Berlin Jewish Film Festival, 2012
DocAviv International Documentary Film Festival, Israel, May 2011
Dok Leipzig International Film Festival, Germany, October 2011
Bar International TV Festival, Montenegro, October 2011
DocAviv Gallilei Documentary Film Festival, Israel 2011
International Women´s Film Festival, Israel, November 2011
DocPoint Film Festival, Finland, January 2012
Paul Spiegel Filmfest Dusseldorf, Germany, January 2012
Film IsReal Israeli Film Festival, The Netherlands, March 2012
One World Film Festival, Prague, Czech, March 2012
One World Film Festival, Bucharest, Romania, March 2012
DocuDays for human rights Film Festival, Kiev, UA
Films for Africa Film Festival 2012, Cape Town, South Africa, March 2012
Hot Docs, Toronto, Canada, April 2012
DokFest int´l Film Festival, Munich, May 2012
Addis Int´l Film Festival, Ethopia, May 2012
Documentary Edge Festival, New Zeeland, April, May, June 2012
Toronto JFF, Canada, May 1012
Krakow Int´l Film Festival, Poland, May 2012
Jewish Film Festival Berlin and Potsdam, Germany, June 2012
Documentary and short film Festival, Norway, June 2012
Moscow Int´l Film Festival, Russia 2012
Magnolia awards, Shanghai TV Festival, China June 2012
DokuFest in Prizern, Kosovo 2012
San Fransisco Jewish Film Festival, USA 2012
MedITERRANEAN Film Festival, Croatia, Aug. 2012
XII International Documentary Film Festival "FLAHERTIANA", Russia, Oct. 2012
Bergen International Film Festival, Norway, Oct. 2012