When I has a child, Cafe Noah was the place where my parents spent their happy Saturday nights with friends, listening to their favorite Arabic music, drinking whiskey and forgetting for a moment the agony of being in a cultural exile in Israel. They both were born in Iraq. For centuries, Jews in Iraq were part of the Mesopotamian heritage - in language, as in music, participating and contributing to the cultural thrive. But all this unfortunately came to a complete halt due to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the physical disappearance of a whole community from Baghdad and other cities. For many musicians, artists and writers, this displacement was intolerable. In the 1950's and 60's, this cafe in Tel Aviv was one of the one place where they could continue their music.
I was very much inspired by the Wim Wenders' Buena Vista Club - on Cuban musicians in Havana. In Israel there were a bunch of phenomenal old musicians, who immigrated from Iraq and Egypt. They were masters of classical Arabic music. But at the age of 13, at my bar mitzvah, when my parents had hired them to play Arab music, I was terribly embarrassed. Years later, the same music sounded and meant something totally different for me. After Cafe Noah I made Takasim, which follows one of the musicians of Cafe Noah, searching for his violinist brother in Cairo.
Documentary | Israel | 1997
Subtitles: English, French