Anaëlle Morf’s short film “Jewish Blind Date” played at the Comedy FEEDBACK Film Festival in March 2016 to rave reviews. Her film also won Best Musical Score at the festival.
Interview with Anaëlle Morf:
Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?
Anaëlle Morf: I wanted to make a film which came from an intimate story. I always thought that, to tell a story, we needed to be as sincere as possible.
Growing up in the Jewish community in Lausanne (Switzerland), I’ve been a modern girl, who studies, travels, go out. But my religious education was education was made at the Jewish school. At the age of ten, my parents had to put me in a public school. From a class of three, I found myself with twenty-two comrades: it had been a shock.
A few months later, my parents were divorcing. Being the only one able to read Hebrew, I decided to replace my father for the prayers of Shabbat and major holidays. Little by little, everything started to become complicated. My sister and my mother moved away from religion, they were no longer regularly Shabbat or kashrut respected at home (ban on mixing milk and meat). They even began to eat pork and seafood.
Being home alone trying to practice the little I had left had become challenging. So I put all that aside, telling to myself that “one day, if I marry a Jew, I would start from scratch: being two is always easier”.
In the time, I tried to reconnect with my religious roots in any other way. So I went often to the synagogue, I took Hebrew classes, and participating in activities among people of my age.
Just a few months later, I came across acquaintances in from of the synagogue. I’d been invited to eat at the rabbi and his wife. Both had given me at the time, Judaism classes. The day before the meal, I wanted to call to cancel under any pretext. I really wanted to go, but got very afraid at the same time.
Fear of not knowing how to behave at a dinner party with traditional practitioners. Fear of disappointing them, my former teachers. Fear of being forgotten. I hesitated to cancel, but it seemed so much to them (and to me) that I did not dare call.
During the meal, I’d been trying to keep control of myself. I was afraid, being too comfortable, to say something wrong, like “I do not eat kosher meat, I do not even know what flavor it has anymore.”
During the festival days, we have no right to turn on the light, use electricity, but I could not remember if I could flush or not. I remember standing In front of the toilet, hesitating to be impolite by leaving the bowl as is, or breaking an important rule. At the table, I was afraid that my phone rings, even if I knew it was closed. I was on the lookout for everything.
MT: From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
AM: We started to write from October to January. The thing is that changed my idea two weeks before the due date. I couldn’t give my script without dialogue… so I wrote the dialogue in one night! I remember that I was totally sleepy. I think that for once, I couldn’t think to much, so I let spoke my intuition. In the morning, I had to give my paper back to my teacher, without even know what I had been writing! It was crazy. From January to June, we found the actors, even made casting in Paris, shot, edited, etc.
MT: How would you describe your short film in two words!?
AM: Let go and misunderstandings.
MT: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
AM: That’s a funny story. We were shooting in Five-star Hotels in Lausanne. We found the perfect bathroom in one of them. We couldn’t plan to shoot a very important scene, because the Hotel was closed. Closed to everyone, especially for a film crew. The Secretary of sSate John Kerry was discussing the Iranian nuclear deal, in this Hotel.
So, I have to say that the success of my film didn’t depend on weather forecast, but on John Kerry!
MT: What were your initial reactions when watching the Toronto audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
AM: I remember saying out-loud “Who are these people talking about my film? There not my family, my school, or my friends. But a real audience!” I had the impression that they were talking about another film.
MT: How did you come up with the idea for this short film?
AM: After the experience I explained above, I decided to make that film about religious identity. Being myself in a relationship with a non-Jew, I must make compromises. I think we should all make concessions, and everything will be possible!
MT: What film have you seen the most in your life?
AM: I’m a big fan of horror films. I also love time-travelling movies, or the ones when someone pretends to be somebody else. Maybe these are the films I watched the most:
Back to the future – Robert Zemeckis
Matilda – Danny DeVito
Shining – Stanley Kubrick
Jean-Philippe – Laurent Tuel
Les Visiteurs – Jean-Marie Poiré
Freaky Friday – Mark Waters
MT: What is next for you? A new film?
AM: I just came back from Chicoutimi, a town in Québec, Canada, where I made a Kino. It is a place where we make films, very quick, with no money and professionals. I co-directed to films within a week. It’s amazing what you can do when you collaborate, and make film without thinking to much!
One of them is quite good.. I might send it to you..!
Back in Switzerland, I really want to start writing a new comedy. I really enjoyed that experience! I hope to be able to do that. It’s always scary to question everything, again and again.
Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video for JEWISH BLIND DATE:
Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.