Jellyfish: Interview with Israeli Directors Geffen and Keret, Cannes Fest Winners

Cannes Film Fest 2007

We are two Israeli artists who have lived most of our lives in Tel Aviv. Consequently, making the sea the main protagonist of our debut feature seemed a logical step.

Sea Is Free

The reality of Israel is so dense, so charged with violence, with suspicion and ideological intolerance that the sea has become for many Israelis, a place of refuge, a place of shelter and comfort. This is because the sea is free, the only territory within the land of Israel where people can just be as they are and not be constrained by things such as a passport and social status.

The film is structured around several stories. The sea provides a common denominator, a collective subconscious, a space in which each of the characters can come face to face with himself or herself. Each of the main strands works as a different facet of a similar state of being – a different aspect of a single overriding mood of existential loneliness, steeped in the unrequited need for affection and communication.

These people need a medium through which to express and convey their feelings. Malika hugs Joy, the foreign-born domestic, in order to reach her own daughter, Galia. Michael discovers the desires and needs of his new bride through a suicide note left by a stranger he briefly encountered in a hotel. Batya is able to confront her own history through the intermediary of a lost child, a girl encountered on the beach.

Tel-Aviv as Setting

The setting is Tel Aviv but this is not the ordinary Tel Aviv we know. Great care has been taken in framing the city in order to shift usual perceptions of place such as they are conveyed in most Israeli films. Like a ship in a bottle, this over-familiar city has been displaced, moved into a different context in order to generate new emotional parameters.

Illusion and Reality

The characters are under the illusion that they can design their own destinies. But the reality is that they wander like jellyfish, without being able to exercise any form of control over their lives, shunted here and there by mysterious, submarine currents that hail from a distant post-traumatic or all too stereotypical events they may have experienced long ago.

In the end, some will overcome the forces that determine their lives. They will make their way down to the waters edge. And for just one short moment they will manage to stand upright in a place that is bright and true…and full of hope.