"Big Bad Wolves" Directors Postpone Palestine Film

Navot Papushado and Ahron Keshales

After their second film, Big Bad Wolves, was named the best movie of 2013 by Quentin Tarantino, Israeli directors Navot Papushado and Aharon Keshales planned to make their epic western Once Upon a Time in Palestine. Now they have decided to wait, because they are afraid their film would be manipulated by politicians on both sides.

“It’s not we are afraid of what the reaction would be,” Papushado said. “It’s just that it will get the wrong attention. It won’t get the right attention. Not for the right reasons. People will try to make it their own and use it for their own agenda.”

Keshales added, “It becomes propaganda instead of being a feature film.”

The two writer/directors were at Fantastic Fest discussing their short for the anthology horror film The ABCs of Death 2. Their first film, Rabies, was Israel’s first slasher movie. They envision a spaghetti western set during the period of British rule over the region.

“We don’t make the kind of movies Israeli cinema usually does because we have our tongue in cheek kind of voice,” Keshales said. “We like to insert some really dark comedy bits in it. We’re doing a film about the British Mandate so it’s a historical film, but it’s going to get the spaghetti western treatment. Nobody’s done something like that in Israel, so we want to make sure we can have fun with that period of time because, let’s face it, this period was all about terrorism. Jewish terrorism, Arab terrorism and British people getting killed and massacred. We figured if you’re going to tackle that idea and say those things about those moments in history, you better make sure people won’t use it the wrong way. We want it to be the kind of film that you understand and not judge by the times in history we’re living in right now.”

Papushado and Keshales want to provoke thought and questions, but they want them to be the right questions. “We don’t want to be pawns in a political debate,” Papushado said. “Of course, when you make a film like that, obviously you want the attention. You want people to talk about it because you have something to say, and definitely we have something very complex to say about living in Israel and how living in Israel is now compared to back then, and maybe it’s not that different. But for right now, we feel like everyone would take it and use this movie as a pawn in political wars that we have nothing to do with. We don’t want this movie and us to be taken advantage of by our government.”

Right now, Keshales and Papushado and are writing another script and taking meetings in Los Angeles. You can see their short in The ABCs of Death 2 on VOD now.

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