British actress Helen Miren meets with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat at City Hall, June 22, 2016. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90.
By Lee J. Green
“Golda” director Guy Nattiv said the movie that digs deeper about Israel’s first and only female prime minister, Golda Meir, is very relevant to what his native country is facing today.
Nattiv won the 2019 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short with “Skin,” which came out in 2018 and was proceeded by a feature-length film of the same name. “Golda” premiered at the Jerusalem Film Festival on July 14.
For the last seven months, there have been weekly demonstrations against the current government in Israel. “I went and demonstrated with my father recently,” said Nattiv. “I miss leaders such as Golda who take responsibility; are humble and take care of the people versus taking care of themselves. As it was during the Yom Kippur War, this is a pivotal time for our country. In a way, we are fighting for the future of our country.”
“Golda,” which stars Helen Mirren as Golda Meir and Liev Schreiber as Henry Kissinger, releases on Aug. 25. It will screen at a few theaters in the region.
Nattiv said he wanted to show a side of Meir that many likely not have seen before. Centering on events surrounding the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the film portrays Meir being unprepared for aggression from neighboring Arab countries, then overseeing a military response that transformed from fumbling to triumphant. It eventually led to Israeli-Egyptian peace in 1979, five years after Meir left office.
“There is so much we don’t know about what she went through during the war and the significant hurdles she faced,” he said. “We want people to come into this movie not thinking they are watching a classic bio-pic or a ‘propaganda’ piece. ‘Golda’ paints a real picture of the war and how difficult it was for her.”
Nattiv said Mirren “is one of the best actresses of our time and really reminded me of Golda. She plays Golda with much depth, strength and humility.”
Mirren is not Jewish, but during a press conference before the screening at the Jerusalem Film Festival, researchers with MyHeritage presented Mirren with evidence linking her to Meir.
The connection is distant, stretching back through Mirren’s paternal Russian ancestry. The genealogy also links Mirren with two Israeli presidents — Chaim and Ezer Weizman.
She told JTA that the connection is “miraculous. It just goes to show that we are all one family, actually. In times of divisiveness and strife as I know Israel is in right now… it would be a very good thing to remember that fact.”
Mirren’s connection to Israel dates back to 1967, when she traveled with a Jewish boyfriend to work for a month on a kibbutz in the north part of the country.
Nattiv said he and “Golda” screenwriter Nicholas Martin did much research to get a full picture of Meir. They spoke with her bodyguard, press secretary and her family about the prime minister who served Israel from 1969 to 74.
“We learned a lot about Golda as a leader, but much more so, as a person,” he said. “That’s what the heart of this movie is all about.”
Nattiv lives in Los Angeles with his wife and producing partner, Jaime Ray Newman, and their two daughters. He and Newman run New Native Pictures, which is focused on developing risk-taking, original and socially relevant content for the screen.
Fathom Events is coordinating preview screenings of “Golda” on Aug. 23, with an exclusive question and answer session with Mirren and Nattiv. The screenings begin at 4 and 7 p.m., with doors opening half an hour beforehand, and the program starting at 3:45 and 6:45 p.m.
In Birmingham and New Orleans, there are organized events for the 7 p.m. screening.
The New Orleans event will be at the Elmwood Palace 20 in Harahan. Tickets are $5, free for students, and are available on the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans website. The event is co-sponsored by the Federation, Anshe Sfard, Gates of Prayer, Touro Synagogue and the National Council of Jewish Women New Orleans Section.
The Birmingham screening is at the AMC Summit 16, and is almost sold out. The screening is co-sponsored by the Sisterhoods of Temple Emanu-El, Temple Beth-El and Knesseth Israel, and Hadassah Birmingham.
The preview is also at the AMC Dine-In Vestavia 10, the AMC Patton Creek 15 in Hoover, AMC Valley Bend 18 in Huntsville, AMC Mobile 16, the AMC Classic Wharf 15 in Orange Beach, the Malco Grandview Cinema in Madison, Miss., and AMC Tallahassee 20.