“The Art of Living”

Amir Har-Gil’s Film.

The mature love story of Shraga (72) and Ulla (55) since they met five years before.

A love story that transcends prejudice, stigma and nationalities.

Shraga is a German-Jew who escaped the Nazis , Ulla is an Arian Christian, the daughter of – a Nazi.

The truth is that their families have “met” before.

Shraga’s grandfather and grandmother suffocated in the gas chambers from the gas that came out of the containers Ulla’s father or grandfather manufactured. They were members of the Nazi Party and manufactured the gas containers for Auschwitz.

After he fled the Nazis, Shraga joined the “Haganah” (Jewish para-military defense organization during the British Mandate) and was badly injured (100% disability) during the War of Independence (1948) in the battle over Kibbutz Yehiam. As he is going blind, Shraga talks about settling accounts with the State he helped build with his very blood. Since his injury Shraga chose life; in between hospitalizations he dedicates every moment to love and to live. The art of living. Shraga is my father.

The film presents the viewpoint of the son: filmmaker, loving, jealous, critical.

Through the story of Ulla and Shraga, love, separation, love… issues about the presence of the past arise, issues about prejudice, about Jewish-German-Israeli identity.

Above all it is a moving love story.

New Review

Yoram Kaniuk “The Art of Living” Channel 8, on the Shabbat the film was screened on Channel 8, Amir Har-Gil’s moving film. In the “Art of living” the director documents six years in his father’s, Shraga’s life.

In a group picture at the kindergarten Shraga stands with his face to the wall, turned to the wall by the Nazi kindergarten teacher. He escaped with his parents, he fought in the War of Independence, was badly injured. Shraga Har-Gil was a reporter for “Maariv” and for “Haolam Haze” newspapers; he loved many women, they loved him. He married one of them. His son strives to discover the secret of his charisma, his integrity in whatever he was doing, a hard-to swallow but easy to love father. The film is about Har-Gil travelling at the age of 70 to Wurzburg, the town he was born in, where he meets the love of his life, a German woman much younger than himself whose father manufactured gas containers for the death camps. Shraga Har-Gill found happiness.

Such films can be exaggerated or full of anger. Har-Gil’s film cuts cruelly into his father’s soul, striving to understand the man who found true love at such an advanced age, of all place in the city he was born, the city he was driven out of, with a woman who cannot apologize for what her father did before she was born.

The German-Jewish symbiosis is present in the film right from the start, but the story is also about the father’s anger towards State he helped found and cannot live elsewhere. It is hard to explain, just as love and beauty are hard to explain. The film is moving and touches upon who we are, where do we come from. Har-Gil, a likeable character, somewhat a poseur, is both in the film and criticizes it from without. Yes, lucky there is Channel 8 and Noga films.


Reactions to “The Art of Living”, Amir Har-Gil’s documentary:

Yehudit Katzir: “The Art of Living”, moving, interesting and important”.  Yoram Kaniuk: “The Art of Living”, Amir Har-Gil’s film is a moving film touching about who we are and where do we come from. Wonderful film!

Ruby Porat-Shoval: Charming! Moving! Important!

Yehuda Efroni: Moving film, well done, in my view you get the prize.”          

Hayim Yavin: “Very moving, very beautiful film really touches your heart, well made, many praises.”

Amos Shavit: Tel-Aviv Time: “The Art of Living” is doubtlessly based on excellent materials edited by a professional hand. The film manages to glaze over ones’ eyes. A film that knows how to grab and wrench one’s heart; such films often recall the skills of security guards shaking a dense ball of anxiety right into the viewers’ guts which settles in their throats and vanishes only with the last subtitles”.

Nissan Nativ: “Dear Amir Har-Gil, I saw your film “The Art of Living” once and again and I must tell you that your film fascinated and moved me deeply. I would call the film ‘ode to old age’. The directing is exceptionally sensitive in its ability to express fine nuances which contribute to the films’ unique character. Well done!”              

Shmil Ben-Ari: “Amazing film, very powerful, very powerful, it gives one a lot of strength. I will think about it for a long time, it touches on a most meaningful issue.”   

Reuven Dayan: “It’s wonderful work, really wonderful, it warms the heart, a really charming film, I sincerely say that with all my heart, go on making such works”.

Pini Schatz: “At long last I have seen your film and indeed it is a good film, wise and moving”.

Tami Spivak: “Simply great, and so human!”

Oz Preminger: “I loved the film and was moved, there is a lot in my life that resembles what happens in the film”.

Erez Tadmor: “Excellent film”.

Yankul Goldwasser: “I was very impressed, loved it, beautiful work”.

Avinatan Shinar: “I enjoyed your film very much, the characters are excellent, a powerful story, mainly rare story. I wish you success in your future works.”

Dalia Friedland: “I saw the film and indeed it is very sensitive and beautiful, I enjoyed it very much.”

Eitan Even: “Terrific film, moving, real good, well done!”.

Tzipi Trope: “I loved the film”.  

Shlomo Paz: “Very nice film. Well done. Your father’s story is the story of us all. It reminded me of myself.”

Avner Faingulernt: “I enjoyed it very much, I was very impressed by the character of your father, he is a real hero and the way you observe him is impressive”.

Tamar Yaron: “A film about beautiful people. About love that is more important than blood. About the good source of the humane. Well done”.

Alex Peleg: “You made a very beautiful film, very moving and most importantly, you managed to convey in a wonderful way the warm personalities of Shraga and Ulla”.

Haim Schreiber: “I enjoyed very much the atmosphere in the film and I very much appreciate your work”.

Zivit Kragman: “Wonderful film”.

Tor Ben-Mayor: “Loved it very much. The film is well presented, well made”.

Nitza Schapira: “I was moved by the film, by the personality and by the talent to live and enjoy every moment. Amir, you are a talent!”

Shimona Kleiner-Tal: “I enjoyed it very much, the film has everything!”

Doron Tzafrir: “I wish I had a father to make a film about… with filmic precision you conveyed emotions, feelings, intentions, yours and that of those people. Using film as such a tool is very beautiful. I follow you and your work…”

Director: Amir Har-Gil, Ruti Braverman.

Editor: Michal Ranon.

Photography: Yoav Kosh, Amir Har-Gil, Ran Aviad.

Production: Amir Har-Gil.

Length: 53 mins. Israel 2004.