Baba Joon: Israel’s Entry for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar

Baba Joon, based on the childhood of  director Yuval Delshad, is set in a community of Persian Jews in the Negev (the country’s southern desert).

The boy in the film is me, though he lives his life in a small village, he wants to choose his own way, his own lifestyle, but this is hard for him.

When I grew up in a similar village, I didn’t know anything about the outside world.  My life was limited to studying the Torah (Bible).

I really began to live my life after my military service, when I was 21. At first, I just shot weddings. I never even dreamed of making a film, because at that time, you could imagine but you couldn’t dream.  There was no role model for me, because everybody was a farmer

Israel’s Persian Jewish Community

There are about 200,000 Iranian Jews.  The new generation feels very Israeli, but the older generations still see themselves in their country of origins,

My mother and father are Persians. Whenever a family member came to visit, he came with a suitcase of souvenirs from Iran, including books, songs, and tapes.

For me, this represented a taste of the outside world that I never knew. Now when I hear a person speaking Persian, I want to learn about that world.

Film in Farsi

I don’t speak Farsi, so we needed translator on the set. I directed in English, but the boy was directed in Hebrew.  There was a lot of improvisation by the actors, and I needed to know and understand what they were doing.

Farsi Vs. Arab Community in Israel

There are some similarities, like the respect in both cultures to the father. I have a friend who’s Arab, and after reading the script, he said, “It’s really close to my own life.”