15.10.2018 12:43

“We feel like we don’t have the power to say no,” says the Israeli producer about a movie that deals with sexual harassment

Autor: Eva Maršalová | Kurz: English section | Kategorie: News

In the light of the wide-spread #MeToo movement, the ever-growing content of many movies these days aims to trigger conversations about consent and sexual assault. At the 59th annual short film festival in Brno, the producer Astar Goldberg from the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film School presented a feature film that shows a powerful, yet unconventional way of dealing with unwanted sexual advances.

Autor: Michal Gassner, © Vimeo

Brno/Jerusalem – Action, romantic, psychological or experimental movies. All of that and much more presented authors at this year’s International short film festival Brněnská šestnáctka. However, one of the motion pictures stood out from the competition. The fourteen minutes long Israeli feature called ‘Big Sister’ shows the perception of women in society – especially those facing oppressive actions such as sexual assault, harassment or even rape – with an alternative outlook on this topic.

The twenty-six years old Israeli producer Astar Goldberg explained the process of creating a movie where the main protagonist fights her way through a poisonous mindset manifested by the men she meets. Only to realize her own brother had taken part in coercing sexual compliance on his female classmate as well.

“The timing was important. It came out in the right moment when people truly started to speak out. But there is still more awareness that needs to be brought out, and I think that is what this movie does,” said the producer.

What had you thought about the topic before you started shooting the movie?

When I read the script for the first time, I felt that there was something very powerful about it. I realised there is something that we, as women, can do. We can be active in situations like these – and it doesn’t have to be necessarily a rape. For example, you don’t have to feel comfortable when somebody approaches you at a party, or when they want something that you don’t want. Most of us, myself included, tend to freeze in these kinds of situations. We feel like we don’t have the power to say no.

Is that what Gili, the main character, represents? A strong woman who can stand up for herself?

I think she recognizes the power that she has, and by that I mean not only her physical but also emotional power. She is very much aware of what is going on around her. That way she can stand up for herself and for everyone who cannot do it themselves. She punishes these types of men and sometimes it can be almost too much. The audience might not understand why she makes such a big deal out of every sexually suggestive comment. But I feel like these things – catcalls or innuendos – can sometimes affect people the most. And Gili has the power to say: “This is really not okay.”

Do you believe that is the reason why this movie resonated so much with the #MeToo movement?

Yes, I think that this movie came out in a very strong moment. The discussion about harassment, rape and the power imbalance between men and women just came up all around the world. And I believe this movie shows that women don’t need to apologize, that we don’t have to feel guilt over these things. In a way, Gili represents what the world could be. But it’s not easy. Nowadays, many problems are coming to light, but it is not enough. There is still more awareness that needs to be brought out, and I think that is what this movie does.

Can you tell me something about the process of creating this movie?

Well, we spent almost half a year working on it. This was our director’s [Michal Gassner’s] graduation project in the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film School. And quite a complicated one. At the end, we had five shooting days at ten different locations. In scenes like the one at a party, there were about fifty people on the set. And many other things were making the production complicated. Just the preparations before shooting took around three months to finish.

These types of movies rely heavily on the skills of lead actors. Was the casting process also this challenging?

Absolutely. The director saw over one hundred actresses from all around the Israel just for the character of Gili. Her choice was important, because it is very much a character movie. The whole story is from Gili’s point of view and the idea was to make the audience feel emotions, so they can relate to her. And for the character of Ofer, her brother, the director was actually looking for a non-actor. She wanted him to be very natural. It was very important that people feel the family-like connection between them.

Original title: Ahotcha (2016), Country: Israel, Director: Michal Gassner, Script: Michal Gassner & Roy Golan, Director of photography: Gal Rumbak, Cast: Avigail Harari, Roy Golan, Music: Daphna Keenan, Cut: Gal Rosenbluth, Producers: Astar Goldberg, Yuval Berger

Klíčová slova: film, festival, sexual assault, harassment, Israel


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