Award-Winning Israeli Animator Gil Alkabetz Has Died at 64

Award-winning Israeli-born indie animator and teacher Gil Alkabetz has died, age 64. His friends confirmed the sad news on social media earlier today (Sept. 15). Alkabetz was best known for his witty, smart and thought-provoking animated shorts which commented on the follies of life, politics and human nature. Alkabetz, who took his own life, is survived by his wife Nurit Israeli and his son Mika, as his father, a brother, and a sister.

Born in 1957 in Kibutz Mashabei Sade in Israel, Alkabetz studied graphic design at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. His first animated short Bitzbutz, became a festival favorite quickly. During the mid to late 1980s, he worked at Jerusalem studio Frame by Frame as an animation director, as well as a freelance illustrator, comic artist, animation director and teacher. He made his second short Swamp at Kunstakademie in Stuttgart.

In 1995, he moved to Stuttgart, Germany, and worked together with studio Film Bilder on commissioned projects for SDR, Nickelodeon, and MTV, as well as on his popular festival favorite shorts Yankale (1996) and Rubicon (1997). In 2000, he founded his own studio, Sweet Home Studio, with his wife Nurit Israel in 2000. He also taught animation at Konrad Wolf University in Babelsberg, and offered workshops at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, Denver, and at the Lucerne School of Art and Design. He was also a guest professor at the Konrad Wolf Film University in Potsdam-Babelsberg.

His lovely 2005 short Morir de Amor, about two caged parrots reminiscing about past memories, was another huge festival hit and won top prizes around the world. Other successful shorts included the Ottawa Festival prize winner Swamp (1992), Travel to China (2002), Trim Time (2002) Wollmond (2009) The Da Vinci TimeCode (2009), 1+1 (2015) and One Stormy Night (2019). Alkabetz was also the animation designer on Tom Tykwer’s hugely influential and innovative 1998 German feature Run Lola Run.

Morir de Amor

“I wish I knew where my ideas come from, but I have no clue,” Alkabetz said in an interview with Film Court. “Every film comes from nothing and my experience doesn’t help me either. When I make a film, I can’t say I learned something for the next one. It’s like I always have to restart from zero. I feel every film I make is the first and the last one. I never believe I can make another.”

We send our condolences to Gil’s family and all his friends. The global animation community shares your grief.  Funeral services will be held in Stuttgart. A public virtual memorial service is also being planned.

Gil Alkabetz and clockwise from top, “Rubicon,” “Morir de Amor” and “Swamp.”  Photo: Renaud Fang

Watch Morir de Amor:

Watch Rubicon:

Watch Yankale:

Here is the animated trailer Gil Alkabetz created for Anima Festival 2021:

One of his final works was the award-winning 2020 music video “Good or Better.”

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