Duki Dror (My Fantasia, SFJFF 2005; Taqasim, SFJFF 2003) is a documentary filmmaker who embraces his subjects with a keen eye and curious intellect. In this creative homage, Dror illuminates the life of German Jewish Expessionist architect Erich Mendelsohn. The visionary Mendelsohn, a contemporary of Walter Gropius and influenced by artists such as Franz Marc and the Blue Rider group, produced work embodying a kind of organic dynamism. His story unfolds through letters exchanged with his wife, Luise, an accomplished cellist. Dror gently breathes life into the correspondence of two passionate artists who helped each other weather a turbulent time in history. Mendelsohn’s career followed the jagged trajectory of many German Jewish emigres fleeing Nazism; he worked in England, Israel and, finally, the Bay Area, where he taught at UC Berkeley.
Mendelsohn’s drawings pulsate with energy and his buildings are stunning. Among his accomplishments, he designed the Einstein Tower, Schocken department stores and the Universum Cinema in Germany; the Mt. Scopus Campus of Hadassah Hospital and the Weitzman House in Israel; and private homes and a hospital in the Bay Area. Dror deftly juxtaposes the architect’s original designs with contemporary images, weaving in reflections from Mendelsohn’s granddaughter, other architects and the people who use these unique structures today—a testament to the integrity and timelessness of visionary design.
Born in Tel Aviv and educated at UCLA and Columbia College in Chicago, Duki Dror has been directing award-winning documentaries since 1992. His first film "Sentenced to Learn," about "lifers" getting schooled in a Chicago penitentiary, was showcased in 1993 by Cinema Du Reel in a retrospective of American Documentary. After living in the US for 8 years, Dror returned to Israel to document Israel's cultural, social and political margins.
An important part of Duki Dror's work has been to document the life work of Jewish musicians from the Arab world. In both "Cafe Noah" and "Taqasim," he captures the beauty and depth of classical Arab music. In "My Fantasia," Dror salvages the history of his Iraqi family out of the dominant European Zionist narrative.
"Duki Dror disassembles the notion of migration and presents characters that are detached from the mainstream, enclosed in cultural islands." (Ynet).