Renowned Israeli director Eytan Fox is back at the Tribeca Film Festival, debuting his new film "Yossi," a sequel to his 2002 award-winning film, "Yossi and Jagger," the story of two homosexual Israeli soldiers. The new film will be shown four times throughout the festival, starting on opening day this Thursday.
Actor Ohad Knoller returns to the screen as Yossi, a role for which he won the 2003 Best Actor Award at the Tribeca festival. In "Yossi," 10 years have passed since the title character lost his secret lover, Jagger, in battle, and Yossi has moved on with his life, pursuing a career as a cardiologist, living a solitary and sad life in Tel Aviv. A chance encounter with a woman from his past sparks Yossi to take a break from the city and journey into the desert in southern Israel, where he picks up a group of soldiers and sets off on a path of awakening.
In an interview on the Tribeca Film Festival website, Fox says that his students over the years inspired him to make the film. Fox, who teaches film at NYU-Tel Aviv, said he shows "Yossi and Jagger" to students every year, and they constantly ask him what happened to Yossi after Jagger's tragic death. Fox is friends with Knoller and the two began discussing what they think happened to Yossi. The film "Yossi" was born out of these brainstorming sessions.
Fox told the festival interviewer: "Ultimately, the film is about Yossi eventually processing the horrible things that have happened to him, things he has long repressed, and finding ways to escape the very difficult places that he has been in for years. He finally discovers a new way to define himself and create a new life."
"Yossi and Jagger" rocked Israeli society when it came out. At the time, the concept of a homosexual soldier was unheard of and most Israeli gay men remained in the closet, at least until after their army service, if not longer. The film brought the issue to the surface and was instrumental in mainstreaming the concept of homosexuality. In many of his films and television shows, Fox deals with themes of homosexuality in a macho army-based society, as well as themes of falling in love in a tiny tension-filled country.
"Israel has changed,” Fox said in his interview. “The Israel that I grew up in was a very macho-military state. Going into the army was a part of everyone’s life; you were expected to become a tough Israeli solider ... You had to be tough, you had to be strong, and you had to be straight. The possibility of being gay was not even considered."