Director Eytan Fox and screenwriter Gal Uchovsky have already made their mark provoking Israeli audiences with award winning film Yossi and Jagger about two male soldiers who have an affair. Now, they’re doing it again with Walk on Water a film about a Mossad agent who establishes a relationship with two German siblings whose parents are suspected of harboring their Nazi war criminal grandfather.
The L Magazine: How long have you two worked together?
Gal Uchovsky: We’ve worked together for many years now. So the ideas somehow come up. This movie started from many different things. First, we had this idea that we should do a movie about a relationship between a gay man and a straight man. Usually in gay movies the gay man and the straight man both find out that in the end the straight man is gay and they drive off into the sun together. That’s not what really happens in real life.
The L: Was it a challenge to merge all the transitions between the different elements in Walk on Water?
EF: Of course. We believed very deeply that these different layers affect each other. We were also trying to make a point about the Holocaust and how our past affected our present. We also wanted to make a point about the collective psychology of Israeli men and how our grandparents were victims of the Holocaust and tried to create a new kind of Jew. They tried to create a Jew that was a tough macho warrior. But then he became this emotional cripple who has a hard time dealing with what is happening around him. He is blind upon the pain he inflicts on others.
The L: Were the transitions a writer’s problem or a director’s problem?
EF: Both. That was part of the reason why people didn’t get what we were trying to do. The money issue was such a big thing in Israel. People in America are used to these very traditional black and white Holocaust period pieces. We want to do a contemporary film about young people today talking about music, sex, and love. It’s not something we made up. Caroline Peters, our leading actress, was on a hip TV show and they asked her how she connected to her character. She said that her grandfather was a famous Nazi. Everyone was so shocked.
The L: What will people relate to most?
GU: It’s a movie with some gay content to it but it’s not a gay movie. Sometimes people ask us if we’d ever make a movie only about straights. I don’t live in a world that’s made only of straight people. I don’t want to live in a world without gay people. But in America they have these gay films where the characters talk for about 10 minutes and then fuck. It’s like semi-porn. We don’t do those kinds of films. Our characters are gay because we’re gay. We tell the stories about our lives. Being gay doesn’t have to be the center of everything.
The L: What has been the response for the film?
GU: It opened in Italy and it was very good there but they had liked Yossi and Jagger so we knew where it would go. In France they loved it. It became this huge hit in Paris and everybody is talking about it. The French really like movies about topics because they like to talk about movies. This is the most talked about movie in Paris.
The L: Did they show it in Germany?
EF: It opens in April. I think the distributors have found it difficult. The film started selling beautifully in the German film festival and then the Germans were the last people to pick it up. We were very anxious. I wanted the film to be shown in Germany and I wanted to talk to Germans about it. They found it difficult but eventually they bought it and they’ve been postponing the release date so it’ll be interesting.
GU: Actually it’s been postponed till May because of dubbing the movie over in German. We went there for two weeks. We went to this mansion where Hitler went with his friends to make “the solution.” We went to the house and on the walls we found the numbers of the Jews killed. When we saw those numbers we got out of there. I didn’t want to stay there any longer. We got right back on a plane to Israel.