The Arty Semite

Switched Identities in Israeli Film at Cannes

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share

Moviegoers who were moved by the surrealism and symbolism in Shira Geffen’s 2007 film “Jellyfish” (Meduzot in Hebrew) will be pleased to know that her equally fantastical new film, “Self Made,” debuts at Critics Week at the Cannes Film Festival this month.

“Self Made” tells the story of two women — one Israeli and one Palestinian — who become trapped within one another’s worlds and find themselves living on the opposite side of the security fence from the one they usually live on. Michal (Sarah Adler), a famous Israeli artist in Jerusalem, falls off her bed one morning and loses her memory. She complains to the furniture company that made her bed, leading to the dismissal of Palestinian factory worker Nadine (Samira Saraya). Later, the two women fatefully meet at a border checkpoint, where, due to a soldier’s error, Michal is sent to a Palestinian refugee camp and Nadine to Michal’s home in Jerusalem.

“The swap leads them to discover their hidden desires, inaccessible in their previous lives,” states the film’s promotional material.

Geffen recently explained to Variety why it took her five years to make “Self Made” despite the success of her previous film (“Jellyfish” won the Camera d’Or and was an official selection at several festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival and the Telluride Film Festival).

The hardest part was finding financial backers. “The challenge I faced was the fantastic element of the story, because when people read the script it is hard for them to imagine that following the switch of the characters nobody notices that it is a different person,” she said.

Ultimately, producers David Mandil of MoviePlus Productions and Moshe Edery and Leon Edery of United King Films, understanding Geffen’s vision, came on board. They grasped the director’s desire to challenge audiences.

“The film is actually about identity, and I touch it in a different way, I think. It is like a collage — a lot of parts — and you need imagination and courage to support it,” Geffen explained.

Whereas Geffen (who is the daughter of Israeli author, poet and playwright Yehonatan Geffen) shared the directing credit for “Jellyfish” with her husband, author Etgar Keret, she had full creative control with this new film.

“Self Made” premieres on May 16 and will be distributed by Westend Films.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Self Made, Film, Cannes Film Festival, Shira Geffen

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • 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.