The first movie co-directed by an Iranian and an Israeli, Tatami, will premiere at the Venice International Film Festival, which begins in late August, having just announced its lineup. The film, which is listed as one of the entries in the Horizons Feature Film Competition, was co-directed by Iranian-born Zar Amir Ebrahimi, who also stars in the movie, and Israeli director, Guy Nattiv, and was written by Nattiv and Elham Erfani.
Nattiv’s most recent movie, Golda, starring Helen Mirren, just opened the Jerusalem Film Festival, and he also directed the Oscar-winning short film, Skin, which he co-wrote with Sharon Maymon.
Tatami is a political thriller, set during the judo world championships. The film is about an Iranian judoka, Leila (Arienne Mandi of The L Word), and her coach, Maryam (Ebrahimi), who receive an ultimatum from the Iranian government demanding that Leila fake an injury and lose, or be branded a traitor.
Facing tough choices
Leila is faced with an impossible choice: obey the Iranian regime as her coach urges her to do, or compete for the gold and put herself and her family at risk. The film also stars Jamie Ray Newman (Catch Me If You Can) and Lir Katz (Dismissed). Tatami was inspired by real-life stories of Iranian athletes who defied the regime to compete internationally, and faced dire consequences.
Nattiv said, “Creating together with Zar Amir Ebrahimi as the director and Elham Erfani as the screenwriter was a unique experience. I am excited that this is the first collaboration between Israeli and Iranian creators and that we have been accepted to the prestigious Venice Film Festival. This is a dream come true and a real opportunity to give a platform to the voices of Iranian women who fight daily against the oppressive regime in their country.
Tatami was produced for Keshet Studios by Adi Ezroni (Save Yourselves!) and Mandy Tagger Brockey (A Late Quartet) as part of the development fund run by Keshet International’s US-based studio and Ori Allon’s White Lodge Productions, in collaboration with New Native Pictures. WestEnd Films is distributing the film worldwide.
The Toronto International Film Festival, which opens in early September, recently announced part of its lineup, and Michael Winterbottom’s Shoshana will be shown. The movie is described as the story of British detectives’ search for Zionist leader Avraham Stern, during the British Mandate period. Winterbottom has made such prestigious films as A Mighty Heart (the movie about journalist Daniel Pearl and his murder), Tristam Shandy, and Welcome to Sarajevo.