Eran Riklis' Approach to Filmmaking

Published: September 28th 2010
in Culture » Movies

Mark Ivanir (centre) stars in "The Human Resources Manager"

Israeli director Eran Riklis likes to have both comedic and dramatic elements in his films for one simple reason: that’s just how life is.


“That’s the texture of life for me, always,” he says. “I think we all move from huge tragedies to big comedies whether it’s personally or as a people, a nation or you can look at it globally. I think from day to day, from minute to minute, things happen and we continue living. In a way, I try to put that into my movies because it’s a kind of statement.”


It’s certainly present in his latest movie, The Human Resources Manager, which premiered this month at TIFF. 


“What I like about Toronto is that you have this interesting mix,” says Riklis. “It’s North American and yet it’s very European so I think it’s a nice combination in that sense. It’s especially a good combination for a film like mine, which I think also dances around those two areas.”


The movie, based on the novel A Woman in Jerusalem by A. B. Yehoshua, tells the story of a nameless human resources manager at one of Israel’s largest bakeries who’s going through a rough time. He’s distanced from his daughter, separated from his wife and it’s safe to say he’s not passionate about his job anymore. When a foreign worker employed at the bakery is killed in a suicide bombing, the manager sets off on a mission to bring her body back home.


“The pitch basically is a man who travels with death in order to rediscover his own life,” Riklis, who’s films include The Syrian Bride and Lemon Tree, says of his new movie. 


The film stars Mark Ivanir (Holy Rollers, CSI: Miami) as the human resources manager, but this wasn’t the first time Riklis met Ivanir. The two met in 1991 when Ivanir auditioned for a small part in one of Riklis’ earlier projects. While he didn’t get the part, Ivanir made a lasting impression and seemed to be a perfect fit for the role of the HR manager.


“I think it’s a kind of tricky role,” Riklis admits. “On one hand you want this actor to become the character, which is an anonymous character in a way. He’s not a hero, he’s a human resources manager in a big bakery in Jerusalem.” 


Riklis hopes that audiences will walk away from the movie feeling good and reflect on what’s going on around them in terms of how they treat other people. “I’m really not talking about the Israelis and Palestinians or anything like that,” he says. “I’m talking about everything. It’s Palestinians, it’s Arabs, it’s foreign workers, it’s foreigners in general. But it could also be your wife, your daughter, your mother.”


The filmmaker is currently editing a film he directed called “Playoff,” starring Danny Huston. The movie is inspired by the life of an Israeli basket-ball coach. 

Related articles: (The Human Resources Manager, Eran Riklis, Mark Ivanir, TIFF, Israeli film)
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