In March, A Wider Bridge will be sponsoring a showing on the East Bay, of the most talked about Israeli movie in 2012, ‘Yossi,’ as a part of International Jewish Film Festival. Here’s an interview with director Eytan Fox, which was recently published on FilmJournal.com. His movie, ‘Yossi & Jagger‘ (2002), was one of the most memorable of gay films, a tale of truly star-crossed lovers—soldiers in the Israeli army. It ended heartbreakingly with the death of Jagger, and for anyone who has ever wondered what became of his partner, Fox’s new film Yossi, opening Jan. 11 from Strand Releasing, answers the question. I spoke to Fox by phone in Tel Aviv and, as when I first met him in 2006, found him as honest, forthcoming and proudly out as ever.
Film Journal International: What made you decide to return to this character?
Eytan Fox: It had been ten years since Yossi and Jagger, and I had left the character of Yossi in such a bad place, I kind of felt the need to go back and try to rescue him. I think it’s also a good way to deal with yourself, who I became as a film director as I matured and developed. I was working on a bigger project, finishing editing on it, and had the urge to do something a little smaller and very personal and this was very close to me.
FJI: So you definitely used elements of your own life in writing this?
EF: Yes. I’ve grown older, although I didn’t gain as much weight as Ohad [Knoller, who plays Yossi]. [laughs] I think I was able to help Yossi change because I also worked on myself to overcome different traumas that I went through, stuff that was still bothering me after I went through therapy and had different confrontations. I could go back to this character and say, “OK, let’s deal with this and help make you realize that the world has changed and therefore you can overcome all your difficulties and find a new path for yourself and happiness.
FJI: Knoller may have gained weight, but I think he is still such an attractive, appealing actor.
EF: I was joking! I think he is amazing, a dear friend of mine and a wonderful actor. He’s a very attractive man. He has a tendency to get a little chubby. So when I came to him for The Bubble [Fox’s 2006 feature], I said, “Let’s take two months off and make you look like a 25-year-old Tel Aviv hipster. But for this film, I said, “Go ahead and eat all you want to. Physically, emotionally, psychologically, this was a character who didn’t take care of himself, so that was good.
FJI: How did he feel about reprising this character?
EF: He was rather fearful, more than I was. He said, “Eytan, we were so happy with the original film, which won all these prizes and the ending was so powerful.” It said something about Israel at the time and the army and a lot of stuff we were dealing with then. And he was afraid that we might ruin that by revisiting this character. I told him, “Listen, we’re very close friends and we have faced various difficulties with our careers and questions of what life is about, and if we are authentic and true to ourselves, we will get it right and figure out this character and what we want for him.
FJI: Is he gay himself?
EF: No, he isn’t. Nobody’s perfect.