Moshe Mizrahi is one of the greatest and most productive original filmmakers living and working in Israel. He was born in 1931 in Alexandria, Egypt. Mizrahi’s work is impressive for its expansiveness. He wrote, directed and produced films in Israel, France, England and the United States, and he is always in the middle of working on a new film. With his persistent, emotional films, Mizrahi asks questions about exile and home, inside and outside, identity and intimacy.

Mizrahi began his career as a journalist and film critic in France of the 1950’s. During that period, he also worked intermittently as a youth leader for the Jewish Agency in France and Tunis, and as a film critic and Hebrew to French film translator in Israel. At the end of the 1960’s, after years of working in the television industry as an assistant director, production manager and executive producer at the French production company, Tele France, Mizrahi began to write and direct independently, constantly traveling back and forth, primarily between France and Israel.

Mizrahi’s exploration of exile and home bear his implied and obsessive pursuit of identity, femininity, Judaism and anything elusive, which cannot be defined because it is both this and that, here and there, and therefore motivating but also threatening and strange, as Mizrahi himself described it, “a foreign body.” These pursuits take place throughout his films. The Customer of the Off Season, his first feature length film from 1970, deals with a German concentration camp commander who pretends to be a Jew and builds a new life for himself in Eilat. It was nominated for a Golden Globes award for Best Foreign Film and for a Gold Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival. Films with autobiographical elements which he created in Israel were screened and won prizes at important international festivals and competitions: I Love You Rosa (1971) was screened in the official competition at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Hollywood Oscars. In addition, The House on Chelouche Street (1972) and Abu el Banat (1973) were screened in the official competition at the Cannes Film Festival of that year, and of course La vie devant soi (Madame Rosa) (1977), based on the story of Emile Ajar, starring Simone Signoret, won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Other films in which he collaborated with well known, significant authors are Une Jeunesse (1982), in which the screenwriter partnered with the esteemed author Patrick Modiano, or Mangeclous (1988), based on the book by Albert Cohen, and many other films.
Mizrahi, an eternal autodidact who dropped out of his formal studies when he was just 14, created a captivating mosaic of cinema creations filled with desire and knowledge drawn from diverse sources: Judaism, mythology, literary works and his own life.

The 2015 Cinema South Festival is proud and honored to focus on the one of a kind cinematic work of Moshe Mizrahi. Work which offers a different outlook on our life here in Israel, through the worlds, through the characters and through the language, whether it is the cinematic language or the language of the characters, which is never uniform. A focus on complex identity, which always comes from a few places, which always touches upon a few seemingly contradictory ends. An encounter with cinema which is so precise and close to its small, bothersome details, from which Mizrahi creates a complicated and complete world, a world which becomes our world.

In the framework of the focus, we will screen the following films:
1. The Customer of the Off Season (1970)
2. Les Stances a Sophie (1971)
3. The House on Chelouche Street (1972)
4. Abu el Banat (1973)
5. La vie devant soi (1977)
6. Chere inconnue (1979)
7. Every Time We Say Goodbye (1986)

The focus will begin in the framework of the Cinema South Festival between June 7th and June 11, 2015, and will later continue with a full retrospect which will begin on June 16, 2015 at the Cinematheques in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa.

A tribute event in honor of Mizrahi in conjunction with the Cinema South Festival and in attendance of Dr. Ariel Schvitzer will take place at the Museum of Jewish History and Art in Paris on September 20-21, 2015.