Director Shira Geffen’s absurdist comedy, Self Made, was originally titled Boreg, meaning ‘screw’, perhaps a more fitting title for this fun 2014 film that launched this year’s AICE Israeli Film Festival.
Opening with the collapse of her bed, Israeli feminist artist and provocateur Michal (Sarah Adler) is concussed and meanders through the following days with a screw loose, never quite sure who she is or what she’s doing. She orders a new bed only to find a screw missing from the IKEA-style ensemble.
On the other side of the border, Nadine (Samira Saraya) is a simple Arab woman with a screw loose. On her way to work at the bed company where she packs the screws, she drops a bread-trail of rivets so she can find her way back home each day. In the dusty, stark reality of the border crossing, her brightly coloured headphones and pumping hip hop music are in stark contrast to the oppression of her life; an oppression that is deepened when she’s fired from her job over Michal’s missing screw.
Fate eventually brings these two together at the border crossing where their identities are mixed up and they begin living each other’s lives, inexplicably unnoticed by those who know them.
Neither for nor against either Israel or Palestine, this quirky comedy explores these two women’s existence and the rut they find themselves in until they find what they want in each other’s lives. The swap, however, is far from the focus of this film, coming late in the story. Instead, Geffen focusses her tale on the lack of control each woman feels both in their immediate lives and in the harsh reality of the world they live in.
The two leads are delightful, both eccentric in their meandering blandness. Michal’s confused world is filled with absurd and colourful characters like a world-class chef who plays violin to the crabs he’s about to cook, and a demanding German film crew intent on getting an interview. As she learns about herself and the extremes she went through for her art, we also learn about her and wonder if, indeed, she once had a difference screw loose. Nadine’s life, on the other hand, is tedium piled upon tedium but filled with people that are everything she’s not, from a romantic interest to passionately proud people. Her inability to connect with any of them is what makes her such an adorably intriguing character.
The laughs are plentiful despite the despotic setting and, while not all of it makes sense, Geffen finds inventive ways to surprise and amuse using both the mundane and the ridiculous to great comic effect. The sudden ending is left open to interpretation but gives the impression of resolution for each woman and the young soldier we come to know.
With only one screening remaining this coming weekend, it’s well worth crossing the cultural barriers for a uniquely peculiar romp.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 9
AICE Israeli Film Festival – Self Made
When: Final screening on Saturday 30 August at 6.30pm
Where: Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas, Rundle Street, Adelaide
Tickets: $15 – $20
Bookings: Book online through the Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas website or at the door