"Anyone who listens to this tape will think that I lost my mind, that I went crazy, because I'm talking to a dead man. But for me, you will never be a dead man, I will always be able to smell your scent." (Tape 479). More than 16 years have passed since furrier Stefan Braun passed away, but for Eliezer Rath, his lover and life-partner for 39 years, Stefan's heart is still beating. Day in and day out he sits in Stefan's room which hasn’t been touched since Stefan's passed a way, recording himself talking to him. Eliezer has recorded hundreds of tapes in which he tells Stefan about the events of the day, sings to him, and includes him in his thoughts and longings. Eliezer Rath and Stefan Braun's love story began in the 1950’s in a young conformist state where homosexuality was outlawed, between the walls of Stefan Braun's colorful and successful fur salon frequented by affluent residents and visitors from around the world. However, for Stefan's family, the relationship between the two is not an amazing and harmonious love story. They describe Eliezer as someone who rapidly transformed from lover to servant, ready to endure humiliation and betrayal just so he could be near his lover, while Stefan became the master totally dependent on his servant's close service. After Stefan's death, Eliezer Rath was forced to prove his love for his life-partner. He is confronted by Stefan's cohesive family who raise doubts and suspicions about Stefan's last days in light of the will he left behind. Conversations held between Eliezer and Stefan's family, rare recordings, personal diaries, hundreds of stills and old 8mm films tell the fascinating and complex love story of furrier Stefan Braun and tailor Eliezer Rath.
Directed by: Itamar AlcalayWritten by: Nir ShenhavProduced by: Amir Harel, Ayelet Kait – Lama FilmsSponsored by: The New Foundation for Cinema & Israel’s Doc Channel/Channel 8Language: Hebrew with English subtitle
"Anyone who listens to this tape will think that I lost my mind, that I went crazy, because I'm talking to a dead man. But for me, you will never be a dead man, I will always be able to smell your scent." (Tape 479). More than 16 years have passed since furrier Stefan Braun passed away, but for Eliezer Rath, his lover and life-partner for 39 years, Stefan's heart is still beating. Day in and day out he sits in Stefan's room which hasn’t been touched since Stefan's passed a way, recording himself talking to him. Eliezer has recorded hundreds of tapes in which he tells Stefan about the events of the day, sings to him, and...
"Stefan Braun by Itamar Alcalay is an Israeli-made hour long film that touch on the lives of Gay Jews in Israel... "Braun" is a potrait of a major player in the garment industry in Tel Aviv of the '50s and '60s, a highly fashionable furrier whose creations were the pinnacle of chic, and whose will, which left almost everything to his life partner a cause celebre in the Israeli courts. When Alcalay focuses his attention on the shmatte business or on the Tel Aviv Gay circuit the film comes to vivid life as the portrait of two communities.."
George Robinson, The Jewish Week
"In STEFAN BRAUN members of the family of a glamorous and swinging furrier cannot come to terms with his last will leaving his wealth to his life-long gay companion."
Rating: 3 out of 4 Stars
Running Time: 62mins. Documentary
Notes: Shot on DV, with 8mm archival footage, well shot and lit, pro-looking productions, good intercutting between interviews, archive clips, and dramatic reenactments.
New York International Independent Film Festival:
A film about a love affair between two Jewish men that lasted for decades that was rife with sadomasochistic tendencies in Israel. Interesting subject matter, looks like something that would play on Sundance Channel for sure. Story and characters hold attention throughout.
Faithful Till Death Do Us Part
This is the tale of Stefan Braun, a furrier who died 16 years ago, bequeathing all his property to his spouse, Eliezer Rath. The film provides insight into an era most of us were too young to truly profoundly comprehend.
Once upon a time there was Stefan Braun, a gifted furrier and talented salesman, who had a shop in Tel Aviv. Wealthy women who shopped at his place were treated with an indulgent touch, adding a special glow to the whole shopping experience and the product itself. Latzi was a waiter in a coffee shop. One day, he served the furrier, who came to hang out there. Stefan immediately had eyes for Latzi, and took him in to be his lover and servant. Their relationship lasted more than thirty years, enduring both good and bad times. When the furrier passed away, there was a legal battle over his inheritance, resulting in Latzi's favor and triumph.
"Stefan Braun" is a wonderfully edited documentary and a vivid portrayal of Braun. It is as if the audience hears his voice, without any of his words audible. Yet this film surpasses a mere a glimpse into the life of a wealthy homosexual in Tel Aviv a few decades back. Latzi's character – the loyal servant whose love and devotion follow his master to the grave and beyond – practically cries for cinematic perpetuation, that is successfully realized in this film. Testimonies by Latzi and his rivals, Braun's relatives, do not contradict but rather compliment each other; thus ringing true. Most of the characters speak in gentle tones, with soft Hungarian accents, pronouncing sounds that invoke an embodiment of "Central European-ness".
The social context provides a delicate view of reality predominant in Tel Aviv in the good old days of Israel – a complete anti-thesis of the values of authentic "Israeli-ness". This reality can still be seen today: Money, coffee shops, fashion shows, a certain brand of style-hedonist emptiness, performed by the rich who attend concerts just to show off their furs.
Hagai Hitron/Haa’retz, October 2007