Major Ze'ev Gur Arie was an IDF officer drafted by the Mossad in 1960. His mission: penetrate the circle of German scientists in Egypt who were developing weapons of mass destruction in that enemy country. German-born Gur Arie took on the identity of Wolfgang Lotz, an ex-Nazi German millionaire and horse breeder.
Lotz/Gur Arie became so immersed in his covert identity, and the glamorous life that came with it, that he even married a German woman, conveniently forgetting his Israeli wife and child
That son, Oded, broke a long silence to cooperate with filmmaker Nadav Schirman in the documentary about his father The Champagne Spy (Israel-Germany 2007), which won the Jury Award at this year's Docaviv International Film Festival and which is screening throughout the month at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque.
Oded was 12 years old when he and his mother moved to Paris "because of Dad's work." His father revealed to the boy that he was a Mossad secret agent and made the boy swear to secrecy. The documentary explores his father's real and covert identities, spotlighting the price paid by the family for his father's espionage.
As for Dad hmself, his cover was blown and he was arrested in August 1965 in Cairo. Returning to Israel after some years in prison, Lotz/Gur Arie failed to refind his place here. Hankering over the high life he'd tasted in Cairo, he left for Germany, where he ended his days in frustration and poverty, working as a salesman in a Munich department store.
Following its Docaviv success, Schirman's debut documentary has been invited to prestigious film festivals in Europe and the US. The Champagne Spy will be showing Tuesday afternoons at 3 and Saturday mornings at 11 at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque through April, and in May moves to the Jerusalem one.