LOS CABOS, Mexico – In a rare move, Ireland’s Marcie Films has boarded Trisha Ziff’s upcoming documentary “Israela & Talleen” which is slated to start shooting in Israel in December. Doc is produced in Mexico by Ziff’s 212Berlin Films and Brossacuadrado. Ziff directs and produces the docu with Marcie Films’ Alan Maher who has produced a slew of docus and features including Ireland’s current submission for the Foreign Language Oscar race, folk singer biopic, “Song of Granite.”
Ziff, an English-born Mexican resident, lived in Ireland in the past and wrote a book about Irish-Mexican relations. “It’s great to be co-producing with Ireland, we expect this to be the first of two co-productions,” said Ziff.
“Israela & Talleen” centers on the unusual friendship of two trans women from disparate backgrounds and ages. Israela Stephanie Lev is a 55-year old Israeli activist in the Tel Aviv LGBT community while Talleen Abu Hanna, 22, is an Arab trans beauty queen and celebrity from Nazareth. Their support for each other transcends the decades-old political divide between Israelis and Arabs, and presents a portrait of a modern-day Israel that defies stereotypes.
Ziff’s latest docu, “Witkin & Witkin,” about the twin artist brothers, screened at Los Cabos Friday where they saw the doc for the first time. The Witkin brothers, who are not close, did not see any cut prior to the Los Cabos premiere, said Ziff. “It was a little nerve-wracking for me, but it was an intense, beautiful experience,” she said, adding: “When two artists give you the the possibility to tell their narratives; it’s really a relationship of trust; it’s not easy so I’m really happy.”
Ziff is currently in development on her next project, “Oaxacalifornia: The Return” which picks up from the 1985 film about a family from Oaxaca living in Fresno, CA. “The Return” revisits the family a generation later with “seven grandchildren who know little of Mexico, don’t speak Spanish and live in an American world, yet celebrate Day of the Dead and dance Mexican folkloric dance.” The original was shot by Seamus McGarvey who will film part of the new documentary, said Ziff.
“Oaxacalifornia: The Return” won a cash prize of 150,000 pesos ($7,850) from the 2016 Morelia Int’l Film Festival’s Impulso Morelia work-in-progress program as well as NEH funding.