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Meet the 2012 AFI FEST Filmmakers #4: 'Not In Tel Aviv' Director Nony Geffen

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire October 30, 2012 at 3:50PM

In Israeli director Nony Geffen's film "Not In Tel Aviv," a newly-unemployed high school teacher finds himself spinning perilously out of control. Within days of losing his job, Micah rekindles a spark with an old crush, kidnaps a teenage student, kills his mother, and takes on police, feminists and movie stars alike, all part of a wild, wholesale rejection of his small town's stultifying conventions. "If you look just at him you may not understand but if you look at the bigger picture it’s funny because he doesn’t know what to do with himself," Geffen says. "He acts like he's mentally retarded."
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In Israeli director Nony Geffen's film "Not In Tel Aviv," a newly-unemployed high school teacher finds himself spinning perilously out of control. Within days of losing his job, Micah rekindles a spark with an old crush, kidnaps a teenage student, kills his mother, and takes on police, feminists and movie stars alike, all part of a wild, wholesale rejection of his small town's stultifying conventions. "If you look just at him you may not understand but if you look at the bigger picture it’s funny because he doesn’t know what to do with himself," Geffen says. "He acts like he's mentally retarded."

Where did your creativity take root? "I was Born and raised in a distant, horribly boring village in Israel, with no cable TV and no internet connection, surrounded by a whole lot of nothingness, I had plenty of time to devote to my imagination.A year ago, I shut myself in a room for a week and wrote the screenplay for 'Not In Tel Aviv,' forgoing food or rest."

What were your greatest challenges on this film? "We shot the movie with $50,000 and in 12 days. I think that was the biggest challenge...But it was fun!"

What effect did you aim to produce in audiences? "I want them to laugh! And I want them to think a bit other about the life in Israel. And I hope that go out from the cinema they don't talk about my film, they just do something magical."

Will your next film have such a crazy protagonist? "I wrote a new script who called 'Why Elephant?' It's about an ordinary guy who learns history and then starts a war between Israel and Syria, he goes to the war and he finishes it with shell shock. When he gets out of it he is sure that he is a dead Israeli rockstar from the 80's...He is not pretending. He is sure about that. And than all the concepts of the movie turn up side down. It's funny and sad and all of that."

Indiewire invited AFI FEST competition directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival. Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.

This article is related to: AFI Fest, Meet the 2012 AFI Filmmakers