New Article: Interview with Erez Pery about Sderot, Last Exit, and the School of Sound and Screen Arts at Sappir College

Barlet, Olivier. “‘We need to think again from the beginning!’: Interview with Erez Pery about Sderot, Last Exit, and the School of Sound and Screen Arts at Sappir College, Israel.” Black Camera 6.1 (2014): 215-219.



See also film review by Olivier Barlet and Melissa Thackway, pp. 219-220.



Olivier Barlet (OB):

What is your feeling about Osvalde Lewat’s film?

Erez Pery (EP):

Well, you ask the million-dollar question! I was surprised to see me and the school and my position within the structure from Osvalde’s point of view. It is what’s beautiful about cinema!


Does it serve or disserve the school?


It helps in the sense that more people get to know what we do here in the south of Israel. The festival is already quite known in circles in Europe. It’s funny because people in Paris know better what’s going on in the school than people here in Tel Aviv!


Would you have taken the same point of view?


The school is a part of my family. I wouldn’t do a film about it; it is too close, too intimate.


A lot of documentary films do that.


Yes, but I don’t really like that. I can only handle it when the private sphere and the public sphere connect together, when your private life some-how captures the zeitgeist of the society. I was surprised when Osvalde came to me with the idea of making a film about the school. It happened because of the festival: I saw Black Business in France and called to invite her. She was totally surprised. She has never been to Israel before. When she was at the festival, she was in a total shock. I think it was a kind of life-changing experience for her.


Does the fact that she is an African woman make a difference for you?


The festival is focused on the three continents: Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Finding good films from Africa is not easy these days. Sderot is inhabited by Jews from Africa: Algeria, Morocco, Ethiopia. …


Do the students of the school tackle the issue of these identities?


Yes, because Israel is a nation of immigrants who had to curb their own identity to be Israelis, and what we are doing now is going back to our original identity, our own roots, the language that we have never talked, to know who we really are. This is the kind of film that is made here. Films of hybrid people, half Israeli, half something else. This is what Freud called “the return of the repressed.”


When you present the school outside, what are your main points?


First and foremost, we are a kind of alternative to the hegemonic center, not only in the subject matter, but also aesthetically. As we are on the periphery, very close to the border with Gaza, we have this little laboratory of our own: we can explore things. We are not afraid of difficult subjects and to open old wounds. This is basically what we do here, in contrast with what is going on in the rest of the country. People from the center think that it is a kind of weakness, giving up the prestige of the conventional aesthetic and big festivals. …

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