Udi Aloni

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Udi Aloni
File:Udi Aloni October,2008.jpg
Udi Aloni October,2008
Born (1959-12-10) 10 December 1959 (age 62)
Occupation Filmmaker , Writer

Udi Aloni (Hebrew: אודי אלוני‎; born December 10, 1959) is an Israeli American filmmaker, writer and visual artist whose works focus on the interrelationships between art, theory, and action. He was one of three sons born to Israeli politician Shulamit Aloni.

Early career

Aloni began his career as a painter, establishing the Bugrashov gallery in Tel Aviv, a home for contemporary art, cultural and political events. While living in New York in the 1990s, his work in large-scale art led him to invent a method for advertising on urban architectural structures.

Film making

In 1996, Aloni began making films. His documentary, Local Angel (2002), and his first feature-length fiction, Forgiveness (2006), are both radical interpretations of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that have stirred controversy in the Middle East and internationally. Aloni also directed Kashmir: Journey to Freedom (2008), a documentary about the nonviolent movement for liberation and freedom in Jammu and Kashmir that opened in the Berlin International Film Festival.

Aloni was the head cinema coach in the Freedom Theatre of the Jenin Refugee Camp. After the 2011 murder of Juliano Mer Khamis, the founder and head of The Freedom Theater, Aloni directed an Arabic adaptation of Waiting for Godot with the Freedom Theatre's graduate students, a production that toured to New York. He is a member of the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace, a Jewish organization based in the United States that advocates for a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

International acclaim

Aloni's films have been presented in various leading film festivals and universities, among them the Berlin International Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, the Tokyo International Film Festival, the Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema, and the Jerusalem Film Festival. Forgiveness (2006), which took the audience award at the Woodstock Film Festival in 2006,[1] was described by Slavoj Žižek as "maybe the most beautiful, powerful and important film ever made about the tragedies of the region."[2] Its theatrical release in the United States opened with Mariam Said, the widow of late Edward Said, reading the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish.

  • Left (1996)
  • Local Angel (2002)
  • Innocent Criminals (2004) -Music video with DAM (band), Palestinian rap group
  • Forgiveness (Mechilot) (2006) –winner of Audience Award at the Woodstock Film Festival
  • Kashmir: Journey to Freedom (2009)
  • Art/Violence (2013)

In 2007, Aloni was a Jury Member for the Manfred Salzgeber Award in the Panorama section of the Berlin International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany.


Aloni's book, What Does a Jew Want?: On Binationalism and Other Specters (Columbia University Press, 2011), includes conversations and comments by French philosopher Alain Badiou, philosophy professor Judith Butler, and philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek.[3] The book spans the fields of theology and psychoanalysis, literature and philosophy.

Aloni's book Gilgul Mechilot (Forgiveness, Or Rolling In the Underworld's Tunnels), a collection of stories and pensées, includes his politically charged essays Messianic Manifesto for Binationalism and Reflections on the Coming of the Messiah.[4] Aloni coined the phrases "radical leftist Messianism" and "radical grace" to describe his political ideology, which attempts to identify and analyze the theology of secularism, or the unconscious theological underpinnings of secularist and liberal discourses, specifically in Israel. In Messianic Manifesto for Binationalism,[4] he calls for a radical re-reading of Zionism, stating that "Any attempt to resist the Law of the Father as violent Zionist extremism only strengthens him. […] We must cleanse Zionism of its nationalistic elements without relinquishing its Messianic fervor for liberty, freedom, and equality."

Biographical notes & filmography

  • 1995 The Book of Sham, New York
  • 1996 Re-U-Man Inaugural Presentation, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  • 1996 Left (documentary film)
  • 2002 Local Angel (documentary film)
  • 2004 Innocent Criminals (music video)
  • 2004 Local Angel (book, ICA, London)
  • 2005 Rolling in the Underworld’s Tunnels (book, Hebrew, published by HaKibbutz Hameuchad)
  • 2005–2006 Symposia and lectures with Slavoj Zizek
  • 2006 Forgiveness (feature film)
  • 2006 Artist in Residence, European Graduate School
  • 2007 Jury Member, Panorama – Berlin Film Festival
  • 2007 "Forgiveness and Retribution", symposium with Judith Butler at the Jewish Book Week, London
  • 2008 Premiere of Forgiveness, New York
  • 2009 Journey in Palestine with philosopher Alain Badiou
  • 2009 Kashmir: Journey to Freedom Panorama Document opening night Berlinale
  • 2010-12 Antigone In The Jenin Refugee Camp,(fiction film; work in progress)
  • 2011 "What Does a Jew Want?: On Binationalism and Other Specters edited by Slavoj Zizek" Columbia University Press
  • 2011 "Waiting For Godot" with The Freedom Theater of the Jenin Refugee Camp; director
  • 2013 Art/Violence (feature film)

Political vision

Aloni promotes the concept of binationalism in Israel-Palestine, and he believes that fidelity to the Israeli people and fidelity to the Palestinian people are one and the same. He accuses the current Israeli state of apartheid that "in some ways has been crueler in Israel" than in South Africa because "the entire judicial system conceals and cleanses the praxis of government-led apartheid."[5] Aloni has described the ideology and actions of the state of Israel as racist and has called to replace the ideology of a false "Jewish democracy" with a binational state for all people from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean sea[6] He supports the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement because it is a means for equal dialogue and because it creates a space for nonviolent resistance. He views Palestinians as a "brother ... with whom I share a common identity."[7] The slogan "From the River to the Sea all People Must be Free" appears on Aloni's website.[8]

The film Forgiveness (2006), which had its Middle-Eastern premiere in Ramallah, recently stirred up controversy when the Israeli embassy in Paris threatened to withdraw funding from the Israeli Film Festival in Paris (du Film – Israelien de Paris) should they open the festival with the film.[9] Aloni (along with Naomi Klein, John Greyson, and others) was an initiator of the Toronto Declaration,.[10]

In all of his work, Aloni aims at "promoting justice, peace, solidarity and love between Israel and Palestine."[8]

Visual art


External links