A Celebrity’s Death Explored

By Karine Cohen

Published June 13, 2003, issue of June 13, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

CANNES, France — As unlikely as it may seem these days, there was once a time when seemingly all of France worshipped an Israeli Jew. In 1975, the 28-year-old pop singer Mike Brant was at the peak of his popularity, adored by fans in his native Israel and around the world, when he jumped to his death from his Paris apartment.

In “Let Me Love You,” filmmaker Erez Laufer attempts to separate fact from myth in Brant’s life while exploring celebrity culture in the 1970s through interviews with Laufer’s family, former girlfriends and music producers. The documentary, which was widely applauded at the recent Cannes Film Festival, will screen in July at the Israeli Film Festival in New York.

Laufer felt especially moved being able to share Brant’s story at Cannes because 33 years ago the singer gave his first French concert here during the International Music Market.

After a glamorous party on the beach, where guests listened to the music of the late singer, Laufer remained fresh enough to talk to the Forward about his movie.

“I was 13 when Mike Brant died,” said Laufer, who is well known for his portraits of singers, including the 1997 film “Zehava Ben — The Solitary Star” about an Israeli singer who also performed for Palestinians. “My mother, a Moroccan Jew, was in real shock, like a lot of other women in Israel and France. Then one day, I was talking with the Israeli singer Boaz Piper about Brant, and within a few hours my decision was made to make this [film].”

“Let Me Love You” begins with Brant’s youth in downtown Haifa. He was born Moishe Brand to a Polish family haunted by the Holocaust. He grew up to be handsome and charismatic, making him ideal prey for music producers, and the film conveys how a lack of freedom eroded his spirit over the years.

“I feel funny,” Laufer admitted, “because my movie criticizes show business, but here I am, surrounded by stars, sipping champagne and enjoying every minute of it!”

“Let Me Love You” was one of three Israeli features (in addition to a short) presented at Cannes, more than in previous years. Laufer believes Israeli cinema has been in a revival phase the last two years and that audience tastes have been expanding.

“Since my documentary is not political, I find it reassuring to realize that Europeans don’t only respond to Israeli movies that denounce their government,” Laufer said. “I make political movies too, but sometimes it is more powerful to reach the heart of a greater public than making a point that unfortunately won’t change the face of the world. I simply prefer to make intelligent movies that reach more people than intellectual movies that reach just a handful.”

Karine Cohen is a French journalist living in New York.






Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.