Yael Abecassis, who stars in Like Your Father, has her own point of view on the story, and on Israeli cinema.
How did you meet director Marco Carmel?
When Marco gave me his script three years ago, I didn't know him at all. A few days before, he called me to tell me that he wrote a part thinking of me. So I read the script, and I was very touched.
What did you like in his project?
What really interested me in the first place was the story that the movie doesn't convey directly: a Tunisian family that arrived in France because its first attempt of immigration in Israel failed. Even if my own story is a little bit different, I was personally touched because it is related to my roots.
I really looked at the movie's plot with an Israeli point of view. I saw in it this Sephardic generation - the Mizrahim, as we say in Hebrew - who came to Israel at the end of the 1960s and lived with a real identity crisis. Nobody saw them here. The country asked for them to build itself up, but didn't listen to their needs. So many of them left the Jewish state.
But nobody teaches it at school in Israel, because history is taught through the Ashkenazi point of view and experience. And in my opinion, this kind of Israeli movie that tells you what you didn't learn in class is necessary in Israel.
How did you see your character, Mireille, the mother?
The second thing I liked in Marco's movie was this woman. She has to live a cultural split. She used to be in the shadows, at home, locked between four walls, and from one day to the next she suddenly finds herself alone, landed with two kids that she has to provide for. She evolves suddenly, she understands that she needs to change her lifestyle and her educational codes. You can really feel it during her mother-in-law's visit. She has a sudden desire for deliverance, sprung from the new situation she was put in.
So I worked on this part going over the script: I wanted to get the details, in order to bring her experience, to show the story through her eyes.
It's not your first experience with French cinema.
Oh no! My story with French cinema started years ago, in 1999, when I played in Amos Gitai's film, Kadosh. Since then, I have received a lot of love from the French people and also many offers from French directors - much more than in Israel. Moreover, it was French cinema that allowed me to go forward here and to move on to the next stage in Israeli cinema.
What do you mean?
My encounter with the French producer of Like Your Father, Florence Laneurie, a wonderful woman, gave me the desire to be in movie production in Israel. Now I am producing my first movie. In this new activity, I feel at last that I can tell stories and communicate - as Ari Folman did with Waltz with Bashir. I think Waltz with Bashir broke inner boundaries. It was a great reaction by the Israeli cinema to itself. It opened an internal dialogue in Israel, through cinema, and I want to be part of this dialogue.