Variety speaks to director Shira Geffen, whose first film, 'Jellyfish,' won the Camera d'Or in Cannes

LONDON — Variety has gained exclusive access to the trailer for “Self Made,” which premieres in Critics’ Week in Cannes. WestEnd Films is selling the film worldwide.

The pic, which explores the notion of identity, is written and helmed by Shira Geffen, whose first feature, “Jellyfish,” screened in Critics’ Week in 2007, and won the Camera d’Or.

“Self Made’s” story follows two women — one Israeli, the other Palestinian — who are trapped within their respective worlds. After a mix-up at a checkpoint, they find themselves living the life of the other on the opposite side of the border.

It took Geffen five years to raise the money for the film, which was partly due to the ambitious nature of its screenplay.

“The challenge I faced was the fantastic element of the story, because when people read the script it is hard for them to imagine that following the switch of the characters nobody notices that it is a different person,” Geffen told Variety.

The producers, David Mandil of MoviePlus Prods. and Moshe Edery and Leon Edery of United King Films, accepted the challenge because they understood what Geffen wanted to achieve.

“The producers understood the deep issue that I want to touch, and weren’t afraid of the fantastic element and the surrealism in the film,” she said.

“The film is actually about identity, and I touch it in a different way, I think. It is like a collage — a lot of parts — and you need imagination and courage to support it.”

Geffen said she likes films that challenge audiences.

“I don’t like films where you go out and understand everything that the director wants to tell you,” she said. “I like things like David Lynch’s films. I watched ‘Mulholland Drive’ and I remember I didn’t understand anything, but I felt as if I was floating after the film. I don’t think I want to tell the audience something in the film, but I want them to look differently at things.”

She wanted the trailer to pose “a lot of questions, but not be something that tells you what you will see or tell you the story, just to give you the feeling that something strange happened,” she said.

The film, which stars Samira Saraya and Sarah Adler, premieres on May 16.

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