<b>Israeli director Tom Shoval, who was mentored by Alejandro Iñárritu in 2014 - 2015, is flourishing as he builds an international creative network that is supporting his many projects.</b>
<b>Your next film, your second feature, is now in preparation. What’s it called and what’s it about?</b>
The working title of the film is <em>Shake your cares away</em>, but maybe this will change. It’s about a French woman, played by Bérénice Bejo, who marries an Israeli tycoon. He dies unexpectedly, leaving her his fortune.
She has to decide what to do with the fortune and deal with his family, business partners and other mean spirits around her who don’t accept her as the widow and heiress of this incredible fortune. She is in this fight over the inheritance
and her name, but, at the same time, and maybe out of her feelings of isolation, she develops philanthropic instincts which escalate to extreme proportions. She opens up her house to all the outcasts of society, refugees and homeless.
Everybody comes together to live in her big, luxurious villa. It’s a dark satire on the class war in Israel.
<b>You wrote the script, where did the idea come from?</b>
I was inspired by Luis Buñuel’s [film] <em>Viridiana</em> (1960). I am very concerned about what is going on with the ever-widening gap between classes in Israel, it’s a pressure point that erupted to a certain degree with
riots in 2011. I dealt with the middle class in my film <em>Youth</em> (2013). So, this time, I wanted to talk about the upper class, the ultra-rich in Israel − this is how this film was born. I’m in a way evoking <em>Viridiana</em>’s
spirit and social criticism, applying them to contemporary Israel.
<b>Are you expecting a strong reaction to the film?</b>
I’m ready for everything. The atmosphere at present is that there is not a lot of room for criticism. So I feel that this is the time to criticize. Not only in Israel, but everywhere. But it’s not only criticism, it’s also about cinematic
images showing what it is to be ultra-rich in Israel and the consequences of this lifestyle. Filming begins in December 2018. I hope we will be finished for the next festival circuit for Berlin and Cannes in 2019; if not then at the
end of 2019.
<b>Have you done all the casting?</b>
We have the principal actress, so now we’re casting the other characters – a mixture of Israelis, Arabs, Russians and French. I’m trying to keep it as cosmopolitan as I can. Israel is an immigrant country with a lot of different identities,
so I want to reflect that.
<b>You’re also working on another film, writing the script with director Jake Paltrow, (the brother of Gwyneth Paltrow).</b>
I’m writing a script with Jake which he is going to direct. I love Jake, he has an incredible mind and I love his work and films. So it is really an amazing opportunity to work together. We are in early stages of writing, so anything can
happen and there aren’t even shooting dates yet. But I can only say that it is a very interesting project and I am very excited about it. He came to Israel for research on a film, and we met in Tel Aviv; he saw my film <em>Youth</em>
and was impressed. We started talking about his new film and it felt like we have a lot in common. Then he asked me, generously, if I wanted to write the project with him. I couldn’t refuse such an offer; I was in New York recently
to continue the writing with him.
<b>It’s now three years since your Rolex mentorship with Alejandro G. Iñárritu. In retrospect, what would you say about it?</b>
There is no doubt the mentorship is one of the most substantial things I have ever experienced. When you’re a young cinema fan growing up in Israel, you have fantasies about being around directors you admire. And then you actually realize
it! I found myself in the Rocky Mountains with a director I admire, looking on as he directed one of the most important films of the decade [<em>The Revenant</em>]. We became friends and he is involved in my films. I’m
very lucky and I feel blessed – this opened up not just my career, but the way I direct, my approach to cinema. It gave me a lot of confidence in what I am and what I do. It’s precious; there is no other way of getting this kind of
<b>Is it true that you met Steven Spielberg?</b>
Yes, it is incredible. It was in New York. He is a good friend of Jake Paltrow and they were meeting and Jake invited me to come along. It was kind of crazy. He is like the father of cinema, especially to my generation. He was very nice
and sweet, and he heard about the script I’m writing with Jake and he told me I’m doing a great job. It was like an affirmation that you can’t possibly imagine. I’m thinking of myself as a kid watching <em>ET</em> – so
life can change in crazy ways, it doesn’t only happen in the movies.
<b>What other important contacts have you made recently in cinema?</b>
I met the director of [the Academy Award-winning, silent film] <em>The Artist</em>, Michel Hazanavicius, he is Bérénice Bejo’s husband. And he has come on board as a producer for my film. His involvement has opened up the film
to new, vast horizons and I am grateful.
<b>Do you know what you will work on once you’ve finished the feature film?</b>
I’m working on several projects. I am going to shoot a TV series in 2020 which I will write and direct for Israeli television. It’s a wacky, musical drama about a rock star and his son – who lives in his father’s shadow. I am also working
on two other film projects – one of them is based on a short film I recently finished, <em>Kishuf</em>, and the other one is a romantic, impossible love affair film. And, last but not least, I’m writing with my partners
a feature-length film based on <em>Aya</em>, our academy-award nominated short film.