Zero Motivation director planning Brooklyn-set comedy.

Talya Lavie, director of local box office hit Zero Motivation, is developing a comedy about an illegal Israeli immigrant musician in New York working a Hebrew teacher with a wealthy, Brooklyn, ultra-orthodox Jewish family.

Entitled The Current Love of My Life, it is a contemporary adaptation of a story by 19th century author Sholem Aleichem, whose work also inspired Fiddler on the Roof.

Lavie unveiled the film at the final pitching session of the script development Jerusalem Film Lab on Friday.

In her contemporary re-telling, penniless Israeli musician Bini, who is living in New York illegally, is hired by a wealthy ultra-orthodox Jewish family in Brooklyn to teach their youngest son Hebrew on the eve of his marriage to a girl from an important religious family in Jerusalem.

Too lazy to study the language or reply to his future wife’s Hebrew emails, the son asks Bini to keep up the correspondence. Bini falls for the girl.

Also citing Woody Allen and the play Cyrano de Bergerac as other sources of inspiration, Lavie said: “I want to create an Israeli-Brooklyn comedy that brings together the Israeli and the Jewish and the secular and religious.”

Producer Eitan Mansuri of Tel Aviv-based Spiro Films, whose credits include Idan Hubel’s The Cutoff Man and co-producing Ari Folman’s The Congress, is aiming for a mid-2015 shoot.

“We’re talking to potential co-producing partners in North America, both in Canada and New York. It depends on financing but most likely we’ll end up doing exteriors in New York and interiors in Canada,” said Mansuri.

The producer is also currently working on Lebanon director Samuel Maoz’s upcoming production Foxtrot, which is a co-production with German Michel Weber’s Pola Pandora and Paris-based ASAP.

Mansuri and Lavie first met as students at the Sam Spiegel Film and TV School in Jerusalem some 14 years ago. “Even then it was obvious that Talya would go places,” said Mansuri. “She has this excellent eye and nose for the details and moments that create comedy.”

Lavie’s directorial debut Zero Motivation, about a group of bored female Israeli military service conscripts, has clocked up more than 100,000 admissions in Israel since its release in June, for one of the strongest indie openings in three years. 

It has also prompted interest internationally, winning the best film award at Tribeca in April and selling to several international territories via German sales company The Match Factory.