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“Thou shalt not kill”. For philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, that is the primary message to emanate from the visage of one's counterpart. From the reflection on the view of the “other”, Levinas develops a “visual ethics” as a central concept of a Jewish humanism. Yoram Ron takes Levinas' visual moralism and renders it fruitful as a reflection on film itself, in the DNA of which close-ups of faces have always been inscribed.
Extremely lively original recordings allow us to do more than simply watch Levinas philosophise. In his film essay, Ron combines images of war, art, mass media, and religion along with conversations featuring contemporary Jewish, Christian and Islamic philosophers. The result succeeds in creating a completely original and independent instance of philosophising. His images are never merely illustrative – rather, they consistently open up a level behind and above what has been said.
A real coup is the encounter with filmmaker Luc Dardenne, who experienced Levinas as a lecturer at a Belgian university. Dardenne explains how the realistic cinematics of the Dardenne brothers were influenced by Levinas' thinking.
Beyond the problems of vision and its representation, Ron also builds a bridge from the Holocaust and German philosophy in the 20th century to the current intellectual and political situation in Israel. It is a rare case of consistently exciting, high-level cinematic transposition of philosophy, which is nevertheless accessible and requires little previous knowledge of the viewer.
Yoram Ron was born in 1971 in Jerusalem. He lives in Tel Aviv, where he teaches video and philosophy in Shenkar College, Tel Aviv. Ron studied philosophy in Jerusalem and in Paris, and Cinema in Tel Aviv. He directed several short documentaries, fiction and experimental films and runs a small independent film production company, Arnavaz Productions. For his films he won the FirstPrize for Experimental Films at the Jerusalem Film Festival 2003 and at DocAviv 2009. Ron has also published translations of Levinas and Deleuze and Guattari into Hebrew.