The Tel Aviv-based director said tackling sexual abuse in film meant a “long, dark journey.”
Tel Aviv-based writer-director Tali Shalom-Ezer made waves on the international circuit with her 2009 mid-length film Surrogate, which screened at Edinburgh International Film Festival and won the top prize at the Israeli International Women’s Festival, while her 2006 short film Living Room screened at Cannes. Now she is back with her first full-length feature, Princess, a hard-hitting family drama involving 12-year-old Adar whose relationship with her step father takes a sinister turn when her workaholic mother is away. Adar goes on to meet a young boy who closely resembles her and brings him into the family, with tragic consequences.
“I’m obsessed with those adolescentyears, that coming-of-age moment when you discover the curious, exciting and scary world of adults, and I knew my first feature would touch on that subject,” says Ezer, who developed the project at Binger Filmlab in Amsterdam, with funding from the Rabinovich Foundation in Israel.
Starring Keren Mor and Ori Pfeffer, together with newcomers Shira Haas and Adar Zohar Hanetz, the film’s taboo subject matter made the production process particularly challenging.
“It is a subject close to my heart and I knew when I started work on the film that this would be a long, dark journey,” says Shalom- Ezer, who set out to make a film from the point of view of the children involved.
“There is so much pain, suffering and repression regarding sexuality in the family and sexual abuse that the subject is hardly ever talked about. I couldn’t go through with this journey if I didn’t wholeheartedly believe this is a story worth telling,” adds the director, who cites Gus Van Sant, Ingmar Bergman and Wim Wenders as influences.
Both Surrogate and Living Room also screened at Jerusalem Film Festival, while Ezer previously sat on the festival jury.
“It’s like a second home for me, so naturally I feel greatly connected with the event and I’m happy to have my first feature presented within the official com- petition,” says the director, who is already working on her next feature. “It’s still in the earliest stages of development but I can definitely say my next project will not be as dark.”