Film-Maker Directs His Camera at Social Concerns

Film-Maker Directs His Camera at Social Concerns


There is no telling where our curiosity can lead us. Ask Yitzhak Rubin. In 1974, Rubin earned a degree in political science and economics from the University of Haifa. Twenty years later he is a film-maker, director, and a film studies educator at the University.
He is also sensitive to social issues. I am aware that not all people are given the same opportunities in life,” says Rubin. “Indifference is one of our society’s major problems. Each of us needs to have a social obligation, each of us needs to struggle for somebody else.
This credo led him in 1982 to the development town of Or Akiva. There he set up both a television workshop and a community theater for local youth, many of whom were unemployed and scholastic under-achievers, to give them the opportunity to study television production and to perform in the theater. “The young people learned to be creative, to use their time efficiently, and to develop skills they never had the opportunity to implement, Rubin recalls.
The film-maker was also an active proponent of human rights for all of Israel’s citizens. “Generally, as a Jew, it is hard for me to believe in a society where there is discrimination based on nationality,” Rubin says. In 1984, after launching his own film company, Rubin took his cameras and crew north to Israel’s Arab villages in the Galilean mountains and south to Israel’s Bedouin population in the Negev desert. He produced a score of documentaries on the situation of these minority communities. “The Road,” “Health for All?” “A House,” and “Present Yet Absent” are a sample of the documentaries he produced between 1986 and 1993. His work examined such issues as the problems faced by unrecognized Arab villages and the health, housing, and education situations among Israel’s Arab and Bedouin populations.
“Through my documentaries,” he asserts, “I hope to make people aware of the problems faced by Israel’s marginalized communities, problems that are not in the central consciousness of the majority of Israel’s citizens. I hope to appeal to the morals and conscience of my viewers and to increase awareness of our society’s social problems. Only then can we work toward solutions.
In the early 1990’s, Rubin’s film-making capabilities led him in a new direction. The flood of scientific knowledge brought to Israel by new immigrants provided a boon for Israeli technology and the country’s rapidly-growing high-tech industry became more and more competitive abroad. In response to the need for effective marketing strategies, Rubin began to produce promotional videos for Israeli industry. His video company, TekNews, is currently Israel’s leading marketer of high technology videos abroad.
Rubin teaches classes in film studies and film propaganda in the Department of General Studies. Aware that propaganda can be destructive to any society, Rubin focuses his teaching on Nazi propaganda films, showing how slogans, theories, and pictures served as the background to the Holocaust. “Devilish mechanisms, though they may be dull in terms of ideology,” Rubin says, “are capable of convincing human beings.” He hopes that his students, who include educators from a variety of backgrounds, will take with them an understanding of “the horrible abuses that can be caused through pictures and words, which can lead to racism and, further, extermination.”

Rubin became interested in art and theater while studying at the University, and he enrolled in evening classes at a Haifa theater school. This led him to the University of Wisconsin, where he received a master’s degree in film and television.

“Still today,” he points out, “there is no Film Studies Master’s Degree offered in Israel.” When he returned to Israel, he taught Film Studies at Tel-Aviv University. Afterwards, he served as a director for Israel Television while becoming especially involved in the pressing social issues facing Israel.
And what does this multi-talented film-maker have next on his agenda? Stay tuned—to Israel Television’s Channel Two. Rubin has written five dramas, dealing with social issues facing Israel, which he will be directing in the coming months.