The Jewish-themed horror film tells the story of a woman who, when danger threatens her Lithuanian village, unleashes the titular creature, only to discover that there may be more to its evil powers than she first realized.
Last week, we got to speak with with film’s directing pair, the Doron and Yoav Paz, and hear them talk about their approach to filmmaking, as well as their inspiration for bringing the ancient Jewish legend to life.
The Knockturnal: So the plot of this movie is based on an ancient Jewish legend. What inspired you to make this film?
Paz Brothers: The Golem mythology is well known in the Jewish world. It’s similar to a Jewish Frankenstein story, but with a deep extra layer of the Kabbalah. For years my brother and I wondered why it’s been nearly a century since the last “Golem” movie was made. We love the idea of showing the dark side of the Kaballah and that our protagonist is “playing god” before suffering from the consequences. We like to think that our twist to the story is a unique one, since we are dealing with a Golem kid and not the traditional big monster.
The Knockturnal: What is kind of impressive about this film is how it maintains its atmosphere and always feels like 1673. Was that difficult?
Paz Brothers: One of the biggest challenges in the production was building a realistic world in Lithuania in 1673. We shot the movie in Ukraine so we were lucky to get the best professional people in the country to work on this movie. Ukraine has a long tradition of periodical movies, and we were really amazed to see the super-detailed work of the makeup, costume and art department. We shot the movie in a small village near Kiev. It was an amazing experience for us and felt as if we had resurrected the old “Shteitel” (old Jewish town in Yiddish). For us, it was like living inside the legends and stories we grew up with in Israel.
The Knockturnal: What were some of the biggest challenges when it came to the film’s production?
Paz Brothers: The language barriers between our team and the local crews were a bit challenging. It made the production much more complicated with a lot of our efforts focused on communication between the departments and us. In the long run, the delay in communicating gave us more time than usual to prepare. It allowed us to have the whole crew working together in a perfect and coordinated way, and I think that’s why this movie is a real “Eye Candy.” The visual side of it is so impressive. We also experienced a language barrier with the Golem kid, who was a local actor. Despite the challenging process, he was s upper professional and energetic, proving to be amazing. You can see the result on screen.
The Knockturnal: Are there any filmmakers who have influenced you to become filmmakers yourselves?
Paz Brothers: We come from a family of filmmakers and storytellers, so becoming a director was quite natural for us. Our father is an Israeli filmmaker and was a theater director in the Kibbutz. This family tradition had a great impact on our lives. The directors that influenced us most are the edgy, dark side and “twisted” directors of the 90’s -00’s such as, David Fincher (Fight Club), Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream) and others. We started our career in music videos and commercials which made us so very dedicated to the visual aspect of our films.
The Knockturnal: Do you have any advice for young filmmakers who also want to tell stories like this?
Paz Brothers: First advice is – don’t want for anyone. Take a camera and start shooting. Being a filmmaker is being your own engine – you need to be your own fire-starter or you won’t make it in this tough world of filmmaking. Our first film was a small micro-budget movie called PHOBIDILIA which we shot with a couple of friends and a small amount of money. It turned out to be a really cool movie that opened in TIFF and Berlinale. It was mind-blowing experience to see how our small indie got so far. All of this wouldn’t have happened if we had just sat and waited for funds to come.
The Knockturnal: Do you have any upcoming projects that audiences can keep their eyes out for?
Paz Brothers: Our next project is called PLAN A and we hope to shoot it next year. It’s a post WWII revenge story similar to Inglorious Bastards, but based on a true story. It’s a historical thriller that we’re really excited about.