Astrid Lindgren, children’s literature and reading promotion, a report from Tel Aviv

Elina Druker, researcher, critic and member of the ALMA jury, reports from a visit to film festival and a reading promotion project in Tel Aviv, Israel:

Astrid Lindgren’s works and especially her cooperation with photographer Anna Riwkin-Brick has received special attention at the children’s film festival Cinematheque in Tel Aviv, which is going on 18-24 July. This popular festival, organized for the ninth time, is this year focusing on films that have been adapted from children’s books. The Lindgren’s and Riwkin-Bricks’ books are treasured and have classic status in Israel and the books are still read today. In addition to film screenings, other events were organized surrounding these books, including the library Beit Ariela, which last Friday held a well-attended seminar with Palestinian researcher Abed El-Salam, author Tamar Verta and myself, and the Israeli researcher Hanna Livnat. Furthermore, a reading marathon for the younger audience was arranged under the theme of Astrid Lindgren’s Ronia the Robber’s daughter.

Hebrew editions of the book series for children in the world by photographer Anna Riwkin-Brick, used by Elina in her seminar: Elle-Kari, lyrics by Elly Jannes (immensly popular in Israel), Eva meets Noriko-San, lyrics by Astrid Lindgren and Eli in Israel by Lea Goldberg. Photo: Elina Druker

Hebrew editions of the book series for children in the world by photographer Anna Riwkin-Brick, used by Elina in her seminar: Elle-Kari, lyrics by Elly Jannes (immensly popular in Israel), Eva meets Noriko-San, lyrics by Astrid Lindgren and Eli in Israel by Lea Goldberg. Photo: Elina Druker

Other events at the festival were a panel discussion between documentary filmmaker Dvorit Shargal, journalist Kobi Meidan and myself. Shargal is working on a documentary about the children of Lindgren’s and Riwkin-Bricks’  books. In particular, the focus was Riwkin-Bricks and Elly Jannes iconic photo picture Elle-Kari came out in 1952. The auditorium was crowded, and a funny surprise was that the protagonists from the book Eli live in Israel (from 1964), aged five at the time when the book was written, appeared on stage – now almost fifty years later! Link to festival’s web here.

Eduardo Goldenstein. Photo: Elina Druker

Eduardo Goldenstein. Photo: Elina Druker

Among many films from different parts of the world, the Cinematheque also screened a preview of a film based on 2004 ALMA recipient Lygia Bojunga’s Corda Bamba (from 1979), which opens in the theatres in Brazil this fall under the auspices of the Brazilian Director Eduardo Goldenstein. The film, which is Goldenstein’s debut, is about a girl in a circus family trying to deal with a great sorrow. Goldenstein tells that he read the book for the first time when he was ten years old and describes his relation to Bojunga’s novels:

I was her reader as a kid and it turned out that I became a filmmaker as an adult. For me this film is a special homage to Lygia Bojunga’s work, so important to many generations of young Brazilians.

Link to trailer here.

Eyal Feder at the Garden Library in Tel Aviv and Elina.

Eyal Feder at the Garden Library in Tel Aviv and Elina.

Books as a human right

During my stay I also visited the Garden Library, a reading promotion organisation in the southern parts of Tel Aviv, which offers books for refugees, migrant workers and their children via a small outdoor library. The library was founded by ARTEAM, a socially engaged art collective, and is today run by volunteers. I met Eyal Feder from the Garden Library, who told me that the library currently contains 3,500 books in languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Bengali and Hebrew. Every weekend families and children from Tel Aviv’s southern neighborhoods are gathering in Lewinsky Park to visit the library, and the organisation also arranges regular theater performances, reading and writing assistance and other activities. The library is formed by two open bookcases, which are supported by the walls of a public shelter located in the heart of the park. It has a simple roof, which provides shade and shelter. After sunset, the bookshelves are lighted up from behind, which allow reading and creates a meeting spot in the evenings. This small but remarkable library, surrounded by playing, reading and chatting children, is situated in the middle of a harsh environment but is, at the same time, a welcoming and truly inspiring meeting place for both adults and children. More about Garden Library here.

Elina Druker

The Arrival by 2011 ALMA recipient Shaun Tan. One of the 3500 books in the Garden Library. Photo: Elina Druker

The Arrival by 2011 ALMA recipient Shaun Tan. One of the 3500 books in the Garden Library. Photo: Elina Druker

Photo: Elina Druker

Photo: Elina Druker

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