Arts interviews

Ran Tal: Orphaned by idealism

By Nathan Jeffay, April 11, 2008

Director Ran Tal focuses on the kibbutz children who were separated from their parents and raised according to the principles of collective living. It seemed a huge price to pay for utopia

An elderly Israeli man is explaining how he got his name. "There was a vote... Nachum won by eight votes." Another man recalls how he never called his parents "mummy" or "daddy", only by their names. Anything else was "too bourgeois".


Simon Garfield: A collector confesses

By Alex Kasriel, April 10, 2008

Simon Garfield has written a book about his passion for philately.

Simon Garfield has a confession to make. He's been having an affair. But not with another woman (although that is true as well). His clandestine passion is less about midnight tristes and steamy sex, and more about visits to the Post Office, because the London-based author has an obsession with stamps.


Lalo Schifrin: Playing Mission: Impossible

By David Lasserson, April 4, 2008

Lalo Schifrin writes hit TV and movie themes, and plays everything from jazz to symphonies.


No more Mr Grumpy

By Stephen Applebaum, April 3, 2008

Mike Leigh, the acclaimed director of bleak movies, tells Stephen Applebaum that his gloomy days are over

For more than 30 years, Mike Leigh has mapped the tragicomedy of everyday life, in the process uncovering universal truths about the human condition. His film work in particular, as in Naked and the Oscar-nominated abortion drama Vera Drake, can be disturbing, bleak and emotionally gruelling. If there is hope, it is usually of the faint variety.


Libeskind’s £40m new angle

By Gita Conn, March 20, 2008

Leading architect Daniel Libeskind has now designed a Jewish museum in San Francisco

Daniel Libeskind has done it again. The architect promised that his design for the new £40 million Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco would result in “a metal-clad jewel, like a beacon glowing into the future”. He was not exaggerating.

Due to open on June 8, the museum — all 63,000 square feet of it — is, as yet, devoid of artworks. But, like Libeskind’s Jewish Museum in Berlin, which attracted hordes of visitors while still empty, the building itself is the exhibit.


Sex and Jews: it’s academic

By Dana Gloger, March 13, 2008

Is there such a thing as ‘Jewish sex’? Just about, says a lecturer behind a new book on the subject.

HE may be a mild-mannered academic, but Nathan Abrams has sex foremost in his mind. To be precise, he has become one of the country’s foremost experts on Jewish sexuality after editing a new book on the subject.

Dr Abrams, who lectures on film at Bangor University in Wales, has made it his business to investigate what is distinctive about Jewish people and their sexuality.

So what is it, then, that makes us different?


Through a Lebanese lens

By Nick Johnstone, March 13, 2008

In 2006, after Hizbollah provoked Israel into conflict in Lebanon, director Philippe Aractingi shot Under The Bombs, a part-documentary, part-fictionalised road movie set in the midst of the chaos.

Three days into the second Israel-Lebanon war in 2006, an idea came to 43-year-old French-Lebanese Christian film-maker Philippe Aractingi. He would head out to the war zone with a small camera crew and two actors, and direct a film that was part documentary, part fiction — a slice of cinema verité.


Shalom Auslander: 'How Foreskin’s Lament helped me stay sane'

By Gerald Jacobs, March 7, 2008

Shalom Auslander's novel about his terrorised Orthodox upbringing has provoked both adoration and revultion. Writing keeps him from insanity

Monsey, New York, is one of the most Jewish places on the planet. It is also, according to Shalom Auslander, who was born there in 1970, one of the most bizarre and emotionally crippling environments in which to experience childhood. Having now left Monsey — and his childhood — far behind, Auslander views his hometown in the manner of an Orthodox Jewish version of film director David Lynch.


Stephen Poliakoff: TV film's ace oddity

By Simon Round, November 8, 2007

Stephen Poliakoff is an oddity in television. In an age when the single TV film is a rarity and when executives are suspicious of the writer’s voice, Poliakoff retains an enviable niche.

Not only does he still get his films made and shown at peak times, but he also has the nation’s finest actors queuing up to audition for roles. Plus, he gets to direct everything he makes and retains full editorial control over his output.


Alain de Botton: How Proust changed his life

By Francesca Segal, January 4, 2007

Alain de Botton ’s astute observations on subjects as varied as philosophy, travel and shopping have won him a wide book-reading and TV-watching audience. He talks about love, family... and brick walls