Skip to content

Efratia Gitai: Correspondence 1929–1994

05MAr7:00 pm9:00 pmEfratia Gitai: Correspondence 1929–19947:00 pm - 9:00 pm(GMT+00:00) Museum of Modern Art (Theater 2), 11 West 53 Street

Event Details

Centro Primo Levi Editions is pleased to announce the English language publication of Efratia Gitai: Correspondence 1929–1994, with a stage reading of a selection of the letters featuring Barbara Sukowa, Ronald Guttman and pianist Yali Levi Schwartz.

Admission:  General $12, Seniors $10, Students $8, free for MoMA members. Reserve your tickets.

Born in 1909 in Haifa to Russian Zionist parents, Efratia Gitai was “the eldest daughter” of the Second Aliyah, the second wave of Jewish immigrants to Ottoman Palestine. 

Her family’s migration and her own critical eye made her a keen observer of watershed moments: the Bolshevik Revolution; the cosmopolitan culture of Vienna, where she studied psychology with Anna Freud; Hitler’s 1932 speech at Alexanderplatz; Churchill’s declaration of war heard as she fled by boat from Poland to Haifa; early experiments in kibbutz living; and the Six Day War. A fiercely independent personality, committed to her family, friends, humanism, and Eretz Israel, she once observed: “In the beautiful gallery of my life, I have encountered extraordinary people. Among them was a group of rare women with whom I forged deep friendships. I’ve always thought that societies that do not respect women are destined to extinction.”

These “private letters,” curated by Rivka Gitai, offer a rare first-person account into political events, discussions and social transformations, intertwined with formidable bonds of camaraderie, friendship, and love. They reveal the workings of a curious, reflective mind, who knew how to carefully select words to describe her inner and outer worlds. 

The reading will be part of a series of screenings entitled “In Times like These”: Amos and Efratia Gitai, featuring four seminal films by Israeli director Amos Gitai. The special intellectual and artistic bond between mother and son emerges in the exploration of the links between present and past through the narrative prism of Jewish history and literature. 

Barbara Sukowa. The winner of Best Actress prizes at Cannes and Venice, Barbara Sukowa is the star of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz and Lola, Margarethe von Trotta’s Vision and Hannah Arendt, and Filippo Meneghetti’s forthcoming Deux, which will premiere in New Directors/New Films.

Ronald Guttman. After starting his career in in Brussels at the National Theatre, Ronald Guttman appeared on Broadway in Coastal Disturbances with Annette Bening. His many television and film credits include Todd Haynes’s Mildred Pierce, Mad Men, Homeland, Blacklist, On the Basis of Sex, and the new Amazon series Hunters. This spring, he will star in a monologue adaptation of Albert Camus’ The Fall.
Yali Levy Schwartz. A 16-year-old pianist, Yali Levy Schwartz has won numerous international competitions, accompanied orchestras, and performed in prestigious concert halls throughout New York City. She attends the Special Music School High School, as well as the Mannes Preparatory Division, where she studies with Genya Paley.


Thursday, March 5, 7:00 (introduced by Amos Gitai); MoMA T2

Reading: Efratia Gitai: Correspondence 1929–1994. Introduced by Amos Gitai and featuring actress and opera director Marthe Keller (Marathon Man, Bobby Deerfield, Dark Eyes) actor and producer Ronald Guttman (Hunters, On the Basis of Sex, Preacher) and award-winning pianist Edna Stern. Program lasts approx. 90 min.

Thursday, March 5, 4:00 (introduced by Amos Gitai); Sunday, March 8, 4:45.MoMA T2

Carmel. 2009. Israel/France/Italy. Written and directed by Amos Gitai. With Amitai Ashkenazi, Ben Eidel, Eliran Eyal. In French, Hebrew, Arabic; English subtitles. 35mm print 93 min. The history of Amos Gitai’s family is intimately bound up with Israel’s own fractious history. In his densely collaged film poem Carmel, Gitai interweaves autobiography with reenactment: the letters of his mother Efratia, recited by Rivka Gitai (the filmmaker’s wife) and performed by the actress Keren Mor, are interwoven with the ancient Jewish historian Josephus’ famous account of the Roman siege of Jerusalem, narrated by Jeanne Moreau; and Gitai’s experiences as a soldier shot down in a helicopter during the Yom Kippur War are juxtaposed with his encounters with strangers and his own children in an Israel that seems to be turning ever inwards.

Friday, March 6, 4:00 (introduced by Amos Gitai); Saturday, March 7, 1:30.  MoMA T2

Esther. 1986. Israel/Austria/Great Britain. Directed by Amos Gitai. Screenplay by Gitai, Stephan Levine. With Simone Benyamini, Mohammad Bakri, Juliano Mer-Khamis. In Hebrew; English subtitles. Digital restoration courtesy CINEMATEK (Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique). 97 min. The story of Queen Esther, who in the Old Testament rescued the Jews from imminent slaughter by her husband King Ashasuerus, is made vividly relevant to the present-day cycle of vengefulness between Israel and its enemies. Amos Gitai’s debut feature, which draws upon his mother Efratia’s own Biblical scholarship, is filmed as a series of ritualized tableaux amid the ruins of Wadi Salib, the contested Arab neighborhood of Haifa.

Friday, March 6, 7:00 (introduced by Amos Gitai); Saturday, March 7, 4:00. MoMA T2

Berlin-Jerusalem. 1989. Israel/Netherlands/Italy/France/Great Britain. Directed by Amos Gitai. Screenplay by Gitai, Gudie Lawaetz. With Liza Kreuzer, Rivka Neuman, Markus Stockhausen. In Hebrew, German, French; English subtitles. Digital restoration CINEMATEK (Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique). 89 min. Amos Gitai imagines the relationship between two remarkable women, the German-Jewish Expressionist poet Else Lasker-Schüler and the radical Russian Zionist Mania Shohat, moving between 1930s Berlin, city of glittering doom, and Palestine on a pioneering kibbutz for utopian Marxist living.  

Saturday, March 7, 6:30; Sunday, March 8, 2:00. MoMA T2

Kedma. 2002. Israel/Italy/France. Directed by Amos Gitai. Screenplay by Gitai, Mordechai Goldhecht, Marie-Jose Sanselme. With Andrei Kashkar, Helena Yaralova, Yussuf Abu-Warda. In Hebrew, Arabic, German, Polish, Russian, Yiddish; English subtitles. 35mm print courtesy Kino Lorber. 100 min. On the eve of Israel’s founding, a cargo ship filled with Holocaust survivors heads to Palestine, only to find itself ensnared by the violent clash between Jews and Arabs, and between the Palmach (the clandestine Jewish army) and British soldiers.

The series is curated by Josh Siegel, Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art. Special thanks to Josh Siegel, Amos and Rivka Gitai.

Get Directions

Back To Top