Lots of people have unusual ringtones, but Moshe Alpert, the director of the new
Israeli nature movie A Wolf’s Tale, is probably the only one who has a wolf’s
howl programmed into his cellphone.
The film, which is told from the
point of view of a wolf living in the Golan Heights, is his follow-up to the
immensely successful documentary Land of Genesis, which was about several
species of animals throughout Israel.
“All the animals in Land of Genesis
had interesting stories... I wanted to do a movie from the about the point of
view of the animals, to show how the people who live in this land look to them,”
says Alpert, one of Israel’s most distinguished
“Through the story of the wolves we get a view of
ourselves, and also a look into their lives. They have feelings and emotions no
less than people. We are very similar to them and there is no reason for us to
be their enemies.”
Alpert is passionate about this wish to restore peace
among the species, and he is more than simply an observer of nature. In order to
capture extraordinary footage of the wolves, including births, hunting, and
other important moments in their lives, Alpert actually adopted a pair of
“The wolves were born in captivity. Their parents were used for
research on how to help create coexistence between the farmers and wolves in the
Golan Heights. The nature authority searched for ways that the humans could live
peacefully alongside wolves,” he explains.
“This pair was born in the
Haifa Zoo. I wanted to raise them. I knew if we used these cubs, we could tell
an intimate story of wolves. I took these cubs when they were still blind. They
grew up in my family. I nursed them. They never got terrified by me or the
camera operators from my company [Afikim Productions].”
The wolf that is
the “star” of the movie “was with me for 14 years, from when he was a cub till
he died,” says Alpert, clearly still filled with affection for this creature he
has immortalized on film and whose life he shared for so long.
age of three months the pair of wolf cubs lived in my house. Then I built them a
mini nature reserve in Kibbutz Afikim [where he was born and where he still
lives]. When I was filming, I would be with them all day,” he says.
had cubs and some of these are still alive.
“They are about 14, which is
old for wolves. They are retired.... When I decided to do this I didn’t know
what it would involve. This life connected me to them. It’s like being
responsible for little children.”
His real children grew up and “left the
nest some time ago. But the wolves, they didn’t. They were born for freedom and
when I took them from the Nature Authority, I promised to take care of them. I
did this work with great love and it influenced me and my
Although he grew up, “like everybody, with the image of the big
bad wolf from Little Red Riding Hood and Peter and the Wolf,” Alpert is now
deeply concerned about the welfare of wolves in nature.
“They are a
protected species, but it’s an ancient conflict, the conflict between cattle
ranchers and wolves.
We can’t make them vegetarian,” he notes, explaining
that farmers are allowed to kill wolves that attack their herds.
wolves are brilliant creatures, even more sensitive than we are are. They only
want to survive,” he says. “They want to live and found a new
They mate for life and the offspring stay to help their
Because of an explosion in the deer population in recent years,
some hunting of deer has been allowed, which can have dire consequences for
wolves, Alpert feels.
“Every living creature knows his place in the food
chain. But when people come and cut a thread in the food chain, then there is a
Alpert’s dream is that A Wolf’s Tale will help people
“understand that wildlife in general and wolves in particular have lives just
like us. They live are very sensitive to the changes humans make in their
environment, on purpose or inadvertently. My dream is that all human settlements
take into account into the impact on the land and the animals.”
been curious about wildlife since he saw Tarzan when he was a child. His father
was one of the founders of Kibbutz Afikim and Alpert grew up in the fields where
his father worked. He remembers watching the migration of the birds over the
When he got out of the army, he went back to the kibbutz and
became a news photographer, but photographing nature was always a
“After too many years of photographing terror, I had had too
many wars. To keep my sanity, I needed to do something else. And I hope people
in Israel and all over the world will see this film and come away from it filled
with a greater understanding of these extraordinary creatures.”