×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Israeli Oscar Entry ‘Baba Joon’ Features Iranian Actors, Farsi Language

As the U.S. and Israel continued their spat over a looming nuclear deal with Iran, a tiny Israeli film bowed at Toronto to an audience packed with proud Iranian expats. “Baba Joon,” the freshman feature from Israeli helmer Yuval Delshad, made its world premiere in TIFF’s Contemporary World Cinema section, and in doing so made a little bit of history — the pic is the first-ever Israeli film in Farsi, and one of only a handful on record to feature dozens of Iranian actors.

Navid Negahban, the Iranian-born, L.A.-based actor best known to American audiences as terrorist mastermind Abu Nazir in “Homeland,” stars.

Delshad, whose own parents were born in Iran and belongs to the 200,000-some strong population of Iranian Jews in Israel, penned the semi-autobiographical script. The supporting cast includes Iranian-born actors David Diaan and Viss Elliot Safavi as well as several Iranian-Israeli non-pros.

Delshad says that the film’s trailer has been viewed by Iranians living around the world, and Toronto’s Iranian community has been vocal in its support for the film. “We’ve gotten tons of comments, and (the Iranian community) is so excited to come see this film,” he says. “They feel that the film is Israeli and made by Israelis, but it is something that makes them proud. Art is separate from war. The film gives respect to the Persian culture and the Iranian people.”

Baba Joon” is a Metro Prods.-United King production. The film tells the story of Yitzhak, a Jewish-Iranian immigrant who ekes out a living on a turkey farm. He wants to pass both the farming trade and his Iranian heritage down to his precocious 13-year-old son Moti (newcomer Asher Avrahami), but the arrival of Moti’s flashy uncle from America threatens to upend the family for good.

Pic, which was shot in a dusty farming community in Israel’s south over five weeks last summer, has also earned eight nods at the Ophir Awards, Israel’s equivalent of the Academy Awards.

Its Toronto screening was followed by a Q&A with Delshad and the cast on hand. Nearly 50,000 Iranian expats live in Toronto, and Delshad says he fielded many questions from them long beforehand.

“We are not enemies, because I am Iranian too,” he says. “My mother and father’s culture is from Iran. But really, there is no enemy. It’s just between the governments, not the people.”

Negahban, who fell in love with Israel while shooting “Homeland” in Tel Aviv, agrees. He told Variety from the on set last summer, “I could understand Yuval when I read the script. … It felt like he has been working on this story forever, and struggling to find himself. And I called him and told him that ‘I remember when I left Iran, that’s how it was.’”

Delshad admits he has a few jitters over the world premiere of his debut film, but the opportunity to bring Iranians and Israelis together over cinema has him most excited.

“With any film going to a festival, a director looks forward to it,” he says. “But for me, the fact that this film is in Farsi and it’s something that connects people — I’m thrilled.”

More Film

  • Terry Back chairman ACF

    Veteran U.K. Media Investor Terry Back Joins ACF as Chairman

    CANNES — Veteran U.K. film industry investor Terry Back has joined ACF investment bank as chairman. ACF, headed by CEO Thomas Dey, has been at the forefront of the M&A activity around independent TV and film production outfits, mostly in the unscripted TV arena. ACF is in the midst of expanding its activities in the [...]

  • Joker

    Korea Box Office: 'Joker' Remains on Top, 'Gemini Man' Lands in Fourth

    Warner Bros.’ “Joker” remained on top of the South Korean box office in its second weekend. The American psychological thriller earned $5.71 million from 768,000 admissions between Friday and Sunday, for a total of $28.3 million from 3.85 million admissions after two weekends. It accounted for 46% of total weekend box office in the country. [...]

  • dolittle-DRD_Tsr1Sht_1011_RGB_4_rgb-1

    Robert Downey Jr. Embarks on Perilous Journey in First 'Dolittle' Trailer (Watch)

    Robert Downey Jr. is setting sail with some furry friends in the first trailer for “Dolittle,” Universal Pictures’ reimagining of the classic story about a man who could speak to animals. “We have no choice but to embark on this perilous journey,” he says. Set to a rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World,” [...]

  • Parasite

    Bong Joon Ho's 'Parasite' Posts Powerful Opening in North America

    Bong Joon-Ho’s dark comedy “Parasite,” which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, has launched with a spectacular $376,264 at three U.S. theaters.  Neon opened “Parasite” at The Landmark and Arclight Hollywood in Los Angeles and at the IFC Center in New York, where it broke the opening record set by 2014’s “Boyhood.” Its per-screen average of [...]

  • Joker Movie

    'Joker' Dominates International Box Office With $124 Million

    “Joker” is showing impressive traction internationally with a second weekend of $123.7 million on 24,149 screens in 79 markets — a holdover decline of just 29%. Joaquin Phoenix’s psychological thriller has totaled $351.2 million outside North America after only 12 days in release. And with $192 million in domestic grosses, “Joker” has now topped $543 [...]

  • Joker

    'Joker' Remains Box Office Ruler With $55 Million

    Joaquin Phoenix is king of the North American box office once again as “Joker” scores an easy victory in its second weekend with $55 million at 4,374 sites. “Joker” dominated a trio of new entries with animated comedy “The Addams Family” leading the rest of pack with $30.3 million at 4,007 venues, topping forecasts. Will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content