Yolande Zauberman
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Yolande Zauberman

You have to talk or act, otherwise you’ll explode. After all, the problem is silence.

The luminous Yolande Zauberman, screenwriter and director of documentaries and fiction alike, breaks some of the most painful taboos.

Updated on 25/11/2019

2 min

Born in Paris in 1955, Yolande Zauberman began working in film with Israeli director Amos Gitai. In 1987, she made her first documentary, Classified People, which won the Grand Prix at the Festival de Paris. She debuted in Cannes two years later, in the Perspectives section of French cinema, with her documentary Caste criminelle (Born Criminal,1989).

It was in 1992 that she made her first fictional drama film: Ivan & Abraham, which won the Youth Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1993. Two other notable forays into fiction followed: Clubbed to Death (Lola) in 1997, then La Guerre à Paris (The War in Paris, 2002).

M, a documentary released in 2018, marks Yolande Zauberman’s return to the media scene, seven years after her previous documentary Would You Have Sex with an Arab? (2011).

Yolande Zauberman imposes her uniqueness on the world of French cinema: her personal works shatter the most intimate taboos and spark debate. Proof of this is her first film, Classified People (1987), which explores the violence of apartheid in South Africa, and the documentary Would You Have Sex with an Arab? (2011), which looks at the sex lives of Arab citizens of Israel.

M (2018) completes this effort, this time delving deep into the Orthodox Jewish community of Bnei Brak, on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. A shocking investigation into paedophiles, it was filmed after Yolande Zauberman met Menahem, an actor who has appeared in the films of Amos Gitai films, and who was sexually abused as a child by rabbis. A film that shocks to the core, the documentary is an ode to reconciliation – an issue that permeates all of Yolande Zauberman’s work.

Whether filming in South Africa for Classified People (1987), India for Caste Criminelle (1989) or Israel for Would You Have Sex with an Arab? (2011) and M (2018), Yolande Zauberman is an international film maker. Her Franco-Belarusian fiction film Ivan & Abraham (1993) has won awards all around the world, including the Golden St. George at the Moscow International Film Festival in 1993.

Nearly a decade later, in 2004, her documentary Paradise Now - Journal d’une femme en crise (Paradise Now - Journal of a Woman in Crisis, 2004) was presented at the Berlin Forum in Germany. Then, in 2011, Would You Have Sex with an Arab? was selected at the prestigious Venice Film Festival in Italy. M, meanwhile, won numerous international awards in 2018, such as the Special Jury Prize at the Locarno Festival in Switzerland, the Bayard d’Or at the Namur International Francophone Film Festival in Belgium and the Jury Prize at London Film Week in the United Kingdom.

  • 1955


    Yolande Zauberman is born in Paris.

  • 1988


    Yolande Zauberman directs Classified People, her first documentary.

  • 1993


    Yolande Zauberman stars in her first fiction film, Ivan & Abraham.

  • 2018


    M wins the Special Jury Prize at the Locarno International Film Festival.

The Institut français and the project

Yolande Auberman's work, M (2018), is part of the programme for the Mois du film documentaire supported by the Institut français, which takes place from 1st to 30th november 2019 in France.

L'institut français, LAB