Sunday , April 18 2021

Make someone's story more personal

Ofir Raul Graizer The Cakemaker

Photo by Thomas Lohnes / Getty Images

This story about "The Cakemaker" first appeared in the foreign language edition of TheWrap's Oscar magazine.

Ofir Raul Graizer was a film student when he first encountered the story that would become "The Cakemaker," a winner of Israel's Ophir Awards about an Israeli bakery owner and the German man who enters his world by hiding a secret about her late husband.

The film is Israel's entry into this year's Oscar race for Best Foreign Film, and this interview is one of a series of conversations that TheWrap had with the directors of foreign competitors.

This story came from a personal experience, is not it?
OFIR RAUL GRAIZER: Yeah. It's not mine, but I met a guy a long time ago – 10, 12 years ago – and he had a double life. He had a wife and three children and a very respected job, he was the manager of a museum in Italy. We were friends and I knew he had a double life and he was with the men.

After I had not been in touch with him for a long time, I received an email from his wife saying that he had died. I do not know exactly what happened, but I'm sure, from the tone of the email, that she found out about double life. I was struck by this story – this woman, her husband is dead and it is a huge loss, and then she finds out that he lied to her and manipulated her, so what does that say about their relationship?

I thought a lot about how I could take this story and make it my first feature. When I finished my studies, I went to Berlin for a project and stayed there for nine years. One day I was riding a bus and I saw this guy riding a bicycle, and then the whole story came to me. All this. I had the synopsis in two days.

I took the basic idea of ​​woman and lover and death and discovery, and put my own life in it. The scenery, Jerusalem and Berlin. I have a love for food and a love for roasting. My father is religious and my mother is secular, so I grew up between these two worlds. I'm gay, I came out of the closet when I was 16 years old. So I took my friend's story and the story of her widow and put my own life on it.

What was the biggest challenge in making the movie?
It was mainly funding. All the challenges came from that. We received a little money, like $ 70,000, from a movie fund, but the terms were that we had to raise another $ 300,000 or $ 400,000 to get $ 70,000. In six years, we could not increase more. We received 19 letters of rejection of film funds in Israel, Germany and France.

And then, in the end, we went back to the first movie and they made a deal with us that gave us $ 70,000, and we're going to shoot that money. We convinced them that we could do it. We raised over $ 15,000, I pawned my house and filmed it in 20 days. A week after we finished filming, I had the first rough cut, and based on that gross cut we were able to raise another $ 90,000 for post production.

It took eight years to make the film, and all this time the script changed and changed and changed. I cut characters, tried to make it more condensed and easier to shoot. But in the end, what I realized when I saw the final cut is that it was so similar to the first synopsis I wrote after catching the bus.

To read more about TheWrap's foreign language editing, click here.

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