TorinoFilmLab - Training, development, Funding


The Untamed Memories

Uri Bar-on



Marek Htasko was propelled into international fame as a young intellectual rebel in the beginning of his twenties. Having the first film he wrote in Cannes in 1958, Marek gave many interviews against the Communists, and was promptly exiled from Poland.

Since he cannot go back to Poland, in a bout of vodka infused self destructive decision making he decides to accept a job offer in Tel Aviv. Quickly discovering, however, that loss of one’s country is loss of one’s identity and the writer’s block is immediate. Since he cannot even write a single paragraph, he sinks rapidly down to the very lowest class of Tel Aviv holocaust survivors, hookers and pimps. Being in the worst place for him, is where he finally finds his inspiration for some of his best stories. The chronicle of Marek’s years in Israel is spliced in the film with a story that he did manage to write after he left the country.

In the adapted story Jacob and Grisha are two unemployed migrant artists who become con men. They are planning to run a scam on an American woman visiting the country. What follows is a story of love, deception, cruelty and shame, as Jacob and the American tend to really fall in love with each other.


I ran into Marek Hłasko’s book by coincidence. It was a collection of stories written in the 50’s that were about the low lives of Warsaw. I was captivated with the alchemy of the stories: aggressive, masculine, but very human, emphasizing the human freedom against the authorities. I checked who was Marek Hłasko, and I was shocked to discover that in 1959-1961 non-Jewish Marek lived in Tel Aviv, next door to where I live.
The story of Marek turned me on. Something in his rebellious character, his romantic attitude as a freedom fighter who loves his country but exiled from it, got into my heart. In many ways I feel that the situation in Israel can lead to an equivalent reality like in Poland in the 50’s and it raises many questions for me: will I be able to keep making my films if I am forced to leave Israel? And when I felt it will be impossible for me, the opposite question arose: am I so framed by the circumstances of my life, my memories and feelings, that I cannot even live in another country?
With the development budget of the Israeli Film Fund, I started a long research of Hłasko’s Israeli period. I found out that the Israeli media loved writing about him. I met his Israeli friends and lovers, visited the places he lived in and read anything he wrote about Israel. At first I started writing about the chronology of Marek’s days in Tel Aviv, but then I understood that by challenging myself to tell two story lines in the same film – one about the writer who could not write in exile and one of a story he managed to write – I could achieve a more complete and emotional story. The fact is that Marek lived the same way his characters lived, so the combination is undeniable.
The film will not only present the story of Marek but also the history of Israel in the years following its establishment in a very new perspective, the angle of “the Wild West of Holocaust survivors”. Fist fights in bars, lonely people fleeing from the war with no family and hope, mixture of languages and a sense of anarchy are those who caught Marek’s heart and will be the heart of this film.


A lover without a cause finds himself down-and-out in Tel Aviv and Jaffa, taking all the wrong turns looking for his way home.
Uri Bar-on

Film Director, Production

production notes

directed by
Uri Bar-on