2014 Israeli movie of the year ‘Zero Motivation’ released on DVD

Last September, film won six Ophir Awards, the prizes of the Israel Academy for Film, among them Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actress.

‘Zero motivation’ Film (photo credit: PR)
‘Zero motivation’ Film
(photo credit: PR)
Talya Lavie’s Zero Motivation, a dark comedy/drama about female soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces, has just been released on DVD.
Zero Motivation was the movie of the year in Israel in 2014. It sold more than 600,000 tickets, more than any other movie that played here last year, including Hollywood blockbusters.
Although it takes place on a military base in the Negev, a uniquely Israeli setting, it has struck a chord with audiences around the world. It won the Best Narrative Feature Prize and the Nora Ephron Award at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.
The Tribeca competition jury called Lavie “a new, powerful, voice.” Eric Kohn of Indiewire wrote, “The closest point of comparison for Zero Motivation is Robert Altman’s MASH.”
It played all over the US. Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times called it “satiric, surreal, unexpected and at times wildly funny,” while Michael Sicinski of Nashville Scene deemed it “a comedic lark” and “highly original.”
Last September, it won six Ophir Awards, the prizes of the Israel Academy for Film, among them Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actress (Dana Ivgy).
Israeli films have often dealt with soldiers’ experiences, but almost all those films were about male soldiers. Zero Motivation presents a picture of a different military experience, and one that is fairly common for the other 50 percent of IDF soldiers. The battleground here is an office, and the fight is against the numbing boredom of the female soldiers’ work, which consists of preparing and serving coffee to male officers, shredding papers, sending mail and organizing binders.
With wit and precision, Lavie turns this office drama into a mock epic.
The story of Daffi (Nelly Tagar), who loathes every second she spends on the base and dreams of being transferred to the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, and Zohar (Dana Ivgy), who loathes every second she spends on the base and dreams of finding a boyfriend, has already become an Israeli classic. The strong female ensemble consists of a brilliant, distinctive group of actresses. Zero Motivation definitely passes what has come to be known as the Bechdel test, which refers to cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s complaint that almost no films feature a scene between two women in which they talk about anything other than a man. The women in Zero Motivation have a great deal to talk about other than the men who run the base, although often they talk about how angry they are at their female commanding officer (Shani Klein), an earnest and ambitious young woman who decorates her office with photos of Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher.
While Lavie chose to avoid political discussions, because she said that she felt it was simply not realistic – these teenage soldiers were not interested in the big picture, politically – the movie raises certain political issues, about class divisions in Israel and (in the movie’s most talked- about scene) sexual harassment in the army.
In an interview last June, Lavie spoke about how she sees the politics of her movie: “It’s very political about Israeli society. The army is a microcosm of Israeli society. Many films about Israelis are about the effect of the conflict on society.
But I wanted to show the truth. [These female soldiers] are not at the front. They have a feeling of guilt; there is a war out there and you’re here with this nonsense.
That’s the reality of their lives. The movie tries to tell the truth, but it doesn’t try to tell everything about Israeli society.”
While in the past most Israeli DVDs have been of the no-frills variety, Zero Motivation breaks with that trend. The two-disc set comes with a map that looks like a Monopoly-style board game, based on the movie.
One disc features the movie, with subtitles in English, Hebrew and French, plus commentary by Lavie. The other disc features a lively making-of short that details, among other things, how difficult it was to get the movie financed, and its triumphant win at Tribeca. It also explores how the movie was a hit during Operation Protective Edge last summer, when Lavie feared audiences might feel that the movie trivialized army service. Instead, it provided welcome escapism.
There are deleted scenes, stills from the movie, and a short animated film by Lavie.
The DVD set sells for NIS 79.90.