LILLE, France — Israel’s Keshet Intl. world premiered Episodes 1 and 2 of their new alternate-reality drama “Autonomies” at Series Mania in Lille, France on Tuesday May 1. They will screen them again on May 2, before the series heads to the airwaves this summer.
The series is penned by Yehonatan Indursky and Ori Elon, with Indursky directing as well. United Studios of Israel produced, and Keshet Intl. is handling sales, while domestically the series will broadcast on local broadcaster HOT’s linear channel, and on the HOT VOD platform.
The series takes place in an Israel not so dissimilar to the one of our world. The technologies are the same, people face the same daily problems and religious tensions are high. In the world of “Autonomies” however, the nation is divided by a wall between the secular “State of Israel,” with Tel Aviv as its capital, and the “Haredi Autonomy” led from Jerusalem, and run by an ultra-orthodox religious group.
Briode, a Haredi smuggler who can go between the two polities due to his position as a mortuary driver, receives a life-changing job offer: He is asked by one of the highest ranking members of his community to kidnap his granddaughter, who was switched at birth to a family from the secular side of the wall.
While the show may be fiction, the religious groups in it are not. That is an angle that can be difficult to approach for a writer, but Indursky and Elon see it as something of a blessing.
“Unlike judges who sit in court,” they explained to Variety, “we as storytellers have the privilege of identifying with different and incompatible points of view, and empathizing with each one of our characters in order to serve one of the goals of any art – to feel and make others feel just how much every person in this world is precious, special and unique.”
“Autonomies” is not the first time that Indursky and Elon have teamed; the two previously worked on “Shtisel,” another series that looked into ultra-orthodox dynamics.
“After completing two seasons of ‘Shtisel,’ it felt like the right time for us to start working on ‘Autonomies’ and explore the relationship between the secular state and the religious community,” they said.
It was then that the two decided to combine that idea with another they had been working on, a modern day “Judgment by Solomon” story with a vicious custody battle between two families.
“We deliberated between those two ideas until we finally understood they are truly one story,” they explained, “about home, family, borders, divided identities, and about the balance between the Ghetto and the Shtetl (a metaphor for the traditional Jewish way of life).”