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Omer Lotan creates authentic and heartbreaking imagery with award-winning drama

As a renowned cinematographer, Omer Lotan creates unique visual worlds. He tells stories. He is an artist. When working on a new project, he always looks for unpredictable ways to tell the story frame by frame, using the entire cinematic toolset: light, optics, compositions, colors, movement.

Throughout his esteemed career, Lotan has shown audiences in his home of Israel and around the world just what he is capable of. With his work on admired films like Strings and Inner Flame, as well as commercials for major brands like Viber and Visa, he consistently creates engaging content that transcends various mediums and cultural boundaries.

“What I love about my job is the constant mobility, moving from one project to another, getting inspired from various talented artists every day, and experimenting with different styles of storytelling,” he said.

Lotan has been recognized for his extraordinary talent for quite some time, but it was with his film The Visit that he was nominated for an award for cinematography. The Visit premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, where it was premiered and nominated for the Cinefondation Award. It was nominated for Best Cinematography in the Student Etudes Competition in the prestigious Camerimage Cinematography Festival, recognizing Lotan specifically. The film was also nominated for Best Short Film in the Israeli Film Academy Awards. The Visit was screened at over 50 international film festivals around the world, taking home many awards.

“It is always satisfying to know a project you worked hard on is being screened in so many festivals around the world, in front of diverse crowds. I am most honored to have the film screened and compete in the biggest Cinematography film festival, Camerimage. For me, it's an amazing recognition for my work,” he said.

Directed and written by Inbar Horesh, The Visit tells the story of Hagar, who comes to visit her father who lives in a nursing home in Jerusalem. Before entering her father’s room, Hagar looks at him and decides to escape. However, a series of incidents force her to spend the day in the building: a mishap forcing her to change her clothes, an old woman stuck in a wheelchair in the hallway, and then the head nurse who confuses Hagar with a Russian caretaker. Hagar is swallowed up by these events and slowly becomes part of the staff. The short visit turns into a journey between the narrow corridors of society.

The Visit is a very personal film, telling about a special father-daughter relationship, and through that it deals with human connections as well as the Israeli society. I really admired how Inbar managed to handle so many delicate aspects in a very elegant way. In less than half an hour the film tells you this fragile and complex story, and at the same time has interesting political statements about the identity of the young Israeli society,” said Lotan.

When scouting locations for the film, Lotan and Horesh decided to shoot in a real, working nursing home, using one that gave them the most freedom to redecorate. This way, they could create the atmosphere they wanted to achieve, yet still keep the film feeling authentic. They then spent many hours there getting it ready, figuring out how to adjust their shot list to the specific location.

Lotan also wanted to give the film stylish and alluring realistic aesthetics. He did that by understanding the dynamic of the real nursing home, and then on top of that, bringing his own personal visual style. By controlling the color palette, the compositions, and the light, he gave the film an intimate and personal sense. When needed, he succeeded in creating a claustrophobic atmosphere for the film, using the architecture of the endless corridors of the nursing home.

“After an intensive pre-production process, the seven days of filming had a very professional atmosphere. I liked how smoothly everything worked between the units and how we made the location work for our purposes. The effective collaboration certainly benefited the final outcome of the film. It was a great working experience and I am so happy to have been a part of it,” Lotan concluded.

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