“False Flag” director Oded Raz is set to direct “Jerusalem 67,” an epic period thriller retelling Israel’s unlikely victory during the Six Day War in 1967. The long-gestating project is getting ready to shoot on location in Jerusalem on Aug. 16 and is being produced by New York-based Joseph Schick, a U.S. lawyer who started developing it over a decade ago.
Yael Grobglas (“Supergirl”) is in advanced negotiations to play the lead role as a civilian haunted by a painful childhood who leaves her family to serve on the frontlines of war. Itzik Cohen, whose acting credits include “Fauda” and “The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem” is in advanced negotiations to join the cast.
The key crew includes cinematographer Daniel Miller, who won the Israel Film Academy’s Ophir Award for “Fig Tree” and production designer Yoram Shayer, who won Israel’s equivalent to the Oscars twice with “Ish HaHashmal” and “Turn Left at the End of the World.”
The ambitious project is one of the first major international productions to proceed under the Israel Tax Rebate Program for film and TV productions which was created last year.
“It’s a challenging project. It’s a war film and it’s a period piece set in Jerusalem, and prior to the new Israeli production incentives program, we were trying to determine if we could recreate Israel in perhaps Cyprus or Greece, or another location in the Mediterranean,” said Schick. “The tax incentive program was significant for us because Israel is not a cheap place to shoot and it allowed us to tell the story in the right place,” he continued.
Israel is currently torn by unprecedented revolts in response to the judicial overhaul plan of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, which is considered as the most right-wing and religiously conservative that the country has ever had. Schick says the ongoing turmoil echoes the backdrop of “Jerusalem 67.”
“In 1967, Israel had social, cultural, economic divisions and it wasn’t a perfect society by any means. And I think what happened then is a reminder of how to handle that situation,” says Schick.
He revealed that one of the film’s characters is a soldier in the Jerusalem Brigade, which is probably the most diverse unit in the world. “In this brigade you would have somebody who’s very religious, fighting next to somebody who’s a Hebrew university atheist professor, and a janitor and a lawyer. They were all equal. They were all the same. They all faced the same threat. So think 1967 is the guide of how do you deal with internal disputes. In 1967 there was unity,” the producer continued.
Raz, whose credits include “False Flag,” which Apple TV+ remade as “Suspicion,” said he also shot his previous film “Maktub” – one of Israel’s biggest B.O. hits of all time which was picked up internationally by Netflix — in Jerusalem. “Jerusalem is a is a very special place to shoot. It’s not an easy city to film every day. Something can happen because of the political situation but this environment and this atmosphere creates a special energy. It’s so beautiful and historic that you cannot find the same elsewhere,” the helmer continued. Although he wasn’t born when the Six Day War happened, Raz says he has “strong memories” of streets of the Old City from his “experience filming or from being a kid that was born in Jerusalem.”
The film will also shoot in other locations and include about a third interior scenes. “We’re on the streets. We’re in the hospital. We’re on the frontlines, in the Old City, at the Western Wall,” says Schick, adding that the plot of “Jerusalem 67” is inspired by a true story and revolves around a “mother who became a hero of the war and centers on the family.”
The movie will be mostly cast with Israeli actors, as well as a “few Western actors and possibly Israeli Americans who who are familiar faces in Hollywood,” the producer said.
Raz also said the boom of Israeli TV series in the last decade has raised the quality of local crew members. “We have high standards because crew members have been working on very big productions abroad and there are also large productions coming to Israel like ‘Hit and Run’ and ‘Tyrant,’ on top of all kinds of American movies that are coming to Israel,” said Raz, who cited “Tehran,” an Israeli-American co-production, “now filming in Greece and 80% of the crew are from Israel.”
“Jerusalem 67” is being financed by Gesher Multicultural Film Fund and the Maimonides Fund, along with some private equity financing from the U.S. Grobglas is repped by Niv Eshet Cohen, who also represents Oded Raz. The film is represented by Tiffany Boyle of Ramo Law.