Avi Nesher shoots new film in Germany and Poland

Past Life, which is part of a planned trilogy, is based on the real-life story.

November 23, 2015 20:11
2 minute read.

ACTRESSES JOY RIEGER (far left) and Nelly Tagar with director Avi Nesher on the set of ‘Past Life’ in Berlin.. (photo credit: IRIS NESHER)

Past Life, the latest film by Avi Nesher, is currently shooting in Europe.

After filming several scenes in Berlin, the crew moved on to Poland, where they encountered swastikas spray painted on their set in Lodz.

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Nesher played down the incident, saying, “It was a little scary [at first] but the shoot went without a hitch. The Polish crew is extraordinary and they are totally committed to the movie and the ideas it represents. I very much do not want people to think that we are making this movie under fire, the scenes are quite wonderful and it is a great artistic collaboration.”

The Polish crew made it clear that some locals were “venting” in response to a movie crew that had been shooting there before, he said.

Past Life, which is part of a planned trilogy, is based on the real-life story of the Milch sisters, Ella Milch-Sheriff, a classical music composer who wrote a new piece for the film, and her sister, the late Michal Milch-Avigal, a Tel Aviv journalist who ran a risqué tabloid when she was in her 20s. When the sisters learned some disturbing information about the life of their father, a Holocaust survivor, they set off on a journey to Europe in the late 1970s to discover the truth.

Nelly Tagar, who won acclaim in Talya Lavie’s Zero Motivation, plays Michal, and Joy Rieger, currently starring in the television series Johnny and the Knights of the Galilee, plays Ella. This is Rieger’s first starring role in a movie, and she joins such actresses as Neta Garty, Liraz Charhi, and Ania Bukstein who got their breakout roles in Nesher’s films. He found Rieger when his daughter, a filmmaking student, cast the actress in a short film. Doron Tavory plays their father, and the film also stars the acclaimed German theater and film actor Rafael Stachowiak as a German composer who helps them in their quest.

Nesher decided to make the movie after Milch-Sheriff approached him about making a film of her father’s memoir, Can Heaven Be Void? He prefers to make movies based on true stories, because “when people think they’re inventing things, they’re usually just remembering something from a movie they saw. The best stories are true, they’re about things you couldn’t make up if you tried.”

Nesher, who is known for his classic 1970s hits The Troupe and Dizengoff 99, as well as Hollywood films from the 1980s and 1990s, and several recent Israeli films, including Turn Left at the End of the World and The Matchmaker, said the shoot was going “spectacularly well,” and included new recordings of Milch’s original music performed by an orchestra.

Nesher and his actors will soon return to Israel to complete shooting in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

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