Friday , June 18 2021

Making Personal Story Someone Else

Ofir Raul Graizer The Cakemaker

Photo: Thomas Lohnes / Getty Images

This story about "Cakemaker" appeared for the first time in Oscar TheWrap, The Foreigns.

Ofir Raul Graizer was a film student when he first encountered a story that would turn into "The Cakemaker", the winner of the Israeli Ophir Awards for the bakery owner and from Germany, who enters her world, hiding the secret of his deceased husband.

The film is Israel's entry into this year's Oscar race for the best foreign language film, and this interview is one of TheWrap's series of interviews with foreign directors.

This story comes from personal experience, does not it?
OFIR RAUL GRAIZER: Yes. It's not mine, but I knew a guy a long time ago – 10, 12 years ago – and he had a double life. He had a wife, three children and a very respectable job, he was the manager of a museum in Italy. We were friends and I knew that he had a double life and was with men.

After I had no contact with him for a long time, I received an email from his wife who told me he was dead. I do not know exactly what happened, but I was sure with the tone of the news that she had learned about the double life. This story struck me – this woman, her husband is dead, and this is a huge loss, and then he learns that he lied to her and manipulated her, so what does it mean about their relationship?

I've been thinking a lot about how I can take this story and make it my first full-length movie. When I graduated, I went to Berlin for a project and found myself there for nine years. One day I was going by bus and I saw this guy riding a bike, and then the whole story came to me right away. Everything. I had a summary in two days.

I took the basic idea of ​​a woman and a lover, death and discovery, and put my own life into it. Surroundings, Jerusalem and Berlin. I love food and love for baking. My father is religious and my mother is secular, so I grew up between these two worlds. I'm gay, I left the wardrobe when I was 16 years old. So I took the story of my friend and the story of his widow and put my own life into it.

What was the biggest challenge in creating a movie?
It was mainly financing. All challenges resulted from this. We got some money from one film fund, like $ 70,000, but the conditions were that we had to raise another $ 300,000 or $ 400,000 to get $ 70,000. In six years we have not been able to collect more. We had 19 refusals from film funds in Israel, Germany and France.

And then we finally came back to the first film fund and they made a deal with us that they would give us $ 70,000, and we'll shoot that money. We convinced them that we could do it. We built another $ 15,000, pledged my house and shot it in 20 days. A week after we finished filming, I had the first rough cut, and on the basis of this rough cut, we managed to raise another $ 90,000 for postproduction.

It took eight years to make the film and throughout the whole time the script changed, changed and changed. I cut characters, tried to condense them and make it easier to shoot. But in the end, when I realized the final cut, I realized that it was so similar to the first summary that I wrote after taking this bus.

To read more about the TheWrap foreign language problem, click here.

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