Cinema Director Alon Garbuz Is Born
Photo: Gidi Orsher

September 9, 1948

Alon Garbuz, the director of the Tel Aviv Cinematheque for four decades, is born in Givatayim, the youngest of three brothers. The oldest, Aharon, becomes a leader in the Histadrut labor federation and a member of the Knesset for the Labor Party. The middle son, Yair, is a writer and painter.

Garbuz studies literature, philosophy and psychology at Tel Aviv University but doesn’t earn a degree. When Tel Aviv decides to launch a municipal art-house cinema under the leadership of Akiva Berkin in 1973, Garbuz gains the position of deputy director. The Tel Aviv Cinematheque opens May 12, 1973, with a sold-out screening of Charlie Chaplin’s “The Circus.” Garbuz replaces Berkin as director in 1975.

The cinematheque moves around in the early years, from an auditorium in a building owned by municipal employees to the Tel Aviv Museum to the home of the national lottery. The Tel Aviv Cinematheque finds a permanent home with five screens on Sprinzak Street in 1989; Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell attend the opening night.

Under Garbuz, the cinematheque becomes Israel’s top film society, showing top foreign films, classics and the best of Israeli filmmaking. He organizes retrospectives of leading filmmakers and enrichment courses for cinema buffs and initiates various film festivals, such as Doc Aviv and Children FF, although he also shows many mainstream commercial movies for financial reasons. He rejects any red lines that should prevent films from being shown and courts controversy with many of his selections.

He supports Palestinian filmmakers through events such as a festival of films marking the Nakba (“disaster”), the Palestinian term for the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, and he begins serving as an adviser to Cinema Jenin in 2010. France and Italy honor him for showcasing their cultures.

Garbuz retires at the end of September 2015.