Photos and Video
A man and a woman exchange a quick magnetic glance on a train as they each travel to the World Cup finals in Berlin. They accidentally swap backpacks, and when they meet to exchange their bags, the brief spark they felt before begins to take flame. This sounds like the setup to any number of romantic movies, but in Erez Tadmor and Guy Nattiv's astounding Strangers, the familiar premise is the catalyst for greater and deeper themes. An Israeli man, Eyal (Liron Levo), has left his home on the kibbutz to come to Germany. Having grown up in Ramallah, Rana (Lubna Azabal, Paradise Now) became an expat living in Paris because the day-to-day existence in the Palestinian territories had become too difficult. Tadmor and Nattiv turn this unlikely relationship into a metaphor for the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As these two people-who grew up in completely different worlds even while being virtual neighbors-get to know each other, they discover a bond that refuses to dissipate. Their relationship is tested by their differing cultures, opinions on the situation in their homelands, and their allegiances to friends. But through it all, their dislocation from the heart of the conflict allows them to come together not as an Israeli and a Palestinian, but as a man and a woman. Strangers is more than a simple meet-cute situation, and Tadmor and Nattiv (who adapted the film from their award-winning 2003 short) take full advantage of their actors' talent and chemistry: The connection between Rana and Eyal is dramatic because of the complexities and nuances Azabal and Levo bring to their roles. Ultimately, Strangers is a film of hope-the hope that if the masses could see each other as individual people, maybe it wouldn't be so hard to realize that we're all not so different.
Following the May 1st screening, American Express ® Cardmembers are invited to a complimentary after movie reception at the American Express Insider Center located at 27 Union Square West, Union Square Ballroom. Details to be provided at the theater!
Director's Statement Collapse
Some facts about Strangers:
Two months before the soccer World Cup finals, Guy Nattiv and Erez Tadmor decided to expand their prize-winning short film Strangers into a feature movie. Because of the time limits related to the schedule of the World Cup games, the two decided to write a short treatment, and give their two intelligent actors the freedom to improvise. The improvisation was guided by direction and just as prominently by the constraints of an authentic and charming location. This experimental project succeeded, and as the shooting went on, the two actors developed a sensitive, genuine relationship.
Lubna Azabel and Liron Levo (Rana and Eyal) first met at a Berlin underground station, as they enter a scene in which they exchange back their handbags after switching them accidently on the underground. There was an immediate chemistry between the two actors and the entire first scene was shot as an improvisation.
Lubna agreed to play the main acting part even before she read the script, as a result of a brief concept description of the filmmaking over the phone: ‘two actors, Berlin, World Cup, one camera, two weeks of shooting, love story, and that’s it.’ ‘I’m in’ she replied.
On their way to the semi-finals, In order to get by a security cordon around an avenue filled with more than 100,000 people, the production team has disassembled the camera into five parts, each carried in by a different crew member.
The production team was twice stopped from filming by the local police, as they were shooting scenes in the Parisian Metro unauthorized. It took them five different trains in order to continue filming and complete the scene.
There was a general high spirit as the love story was consummated and the film was nearing completion in Germany, when the 2nd Lebanese War erupted. The production team returned to Israel, Lubna went to Paris. But after a short interlude filming resumed, this time with the war becoming an integral part of the story.
The filming method was somewhat that of a documentary. Many scenes were improvised; many characters were added in the course of shooting.
The strong connection created between Lubna and Liron had extended beyond the actual filming, as the genuineness of their relationship was palpable.
Lubna and Liron had previously appeared in improvised films with Tony Gatlif and Amos Gitai, respectively.
Film Information Collapse
[STRAN] | 2007 | 81 | Narrative Feature
Directed by: Erez Tadmor and Guy Nattiv
Foreign Title: (Strangers)
Language: English, Hebrew, Arabic, French
Premiere: New York
Cast & Credits Collapse
Principal Cast Liron Levo, Lubna Azabal, Abdaliah El Akal, Birol Ünel, Partick Albenque, Dominique Loilia
Screenwriters Erez Tadmor, Guy Nattiv
Producers Chllik Michaeli, Avram Pirchi, Tami Leon
Editor Yuval Orr
Music Eyal Leon Katzav
Director of Photography Ram Shweky
Connect to this film Collapse
About the Director(s)Collapse
Erez Tadmor (b. 1974, Herzlia, Israel) graduated from the Camera Obscura film school in Tel Aviv in 1999. In 2003, he participated in the Berlinale Talent Campus at the Berlin International Film Festival. He wrote, directed, and produced both the 2006 short Offside, which took honors at the Manhattan Short Film Festival, and the feature documentary All Is Well By Me with Guy Nattiv. He also produced and directed the 2001 short film Moosh. Guy Nattiv(b. 1973, Tel Aviv) graduated from Camera Obscura in 2000. He has received many awards and participated in the Berlinale Talent Campus. Three of his shorts-The Flood, Strangers, and Offside-combined have won more than 20 awards, including the Crystal Bear from Berlin. The short Strangers received both the best short award and the audience award at Sundance and was a top-ten finalist for the 2004 Academy Awards®.