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Guy Nattiv, director of Golda

Bleecker Street releases Golda nationwide on August 25th, 2023.

NYC MOVIE GURU: You did a great job of humanizing Golda Meir. How challenging was it to capture her heart, mind and soul?

Guy Nattiv: Golda was a pariah. She took the blame and all the bullets from all the misogynistic men that blame her for the debacle of the war. It was easy to blame an older Jewish lady who came from Milwaukee. She wasn't even a Sabra, but we know that 10 years ago, all of the declassified documents came out and showed us that the truth is actually a little different. It wasn't only her---it was Moshe Dayan, Dado, and especially the Intelligence division that fucked it up. She said, "You know what?" It's on me, and she resigned. She died in a dire situation. It was almost a requiem for a leader. So, when I read the script, what I liked about it was that it's clearing her name. It does justice to this pioneer woman. She was the wrong person at the wrong time at the wrong place. She took the blame for a lot of people who used her as a scapegoat for the war. By the way, I don't remember a lot of schools in Israel that had her name on it. Not a lot of parks like they did with Menachem Begin or Ben Gurion. I've always asked my mother, "Why can't I see her name on anything?" There was a big shame with her name. She was connected to the Yom Kippur War which is the biggest stain in Israeli history. So, I really wanted to change this narrative and know that everything is out there---all the truth is out there, we all know what happened, and now let's fix it a little bit. That's why, for me, it was something, as a Yom Kippur child who was born into this war---my dad fought and my mom went to the shelter with me---I wanted to do her good.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How introspective do you think Golda Meir is? How did you manage to capture Golda's introspection?

GN: When I spoke to Helen Mirren in my house for 2 1/2 hours in the middle of the pandemic, we knew that we wanted to penetrate Golda's psyche, mind and soul. I knew that Golda was very isolated. She was very lonely. She was the only woman in the room and not part of the Sabra misogynistic men--she wasn't part of the "chevre." I thought that it was interesting to show her isolated and alone within the corridors. I felt that if Golda spoke about her nightmares about picking up the phone and another phone and her terrible nightmares. I felt like we had to do something that's film noirish. I grew up on films from the 70s like The Conversation, Blow Out and The Parallax View---all those paranoia films from the 70s. I thought that Golda would be an homage to these films.

NYC MOVIE GURU: In the editing room, how did you find the right balance between entertaining the audience and provoking them emotionally as well as intellectually? 

GN: I didn't want to make your typical biopic from birth to death. It's not The Crown. I love The Crown, but Golda is not that movie. I wanted to make something more like Jackie or biopics that are more than just biopics. Biopics that are like a sliver of insight into someone's soul. I was focusing on that more and trying to get the ticking clock working because it's part of the engine that keeps us running. So, that's what I tried to do.

NYC MOVIE GURU: What was the process like to decide when and how to add comic relief? How important is comic relief to you?

GN: It's important, but I think that it's important to do it in a very delicate way. I didn't want to make a comedy out of it. It's not Being There and not a satire, but I do think that there are little bits and pieces of comedy when they stand. Gentiles say goodbye and leave; Jews don't know how to say goodbye. They say goodbye and they don't leave. The fact that the Israelis want to stay with the grandmother and she's like, "No. Get out of the room!" and they're like, "No. We want to stay with you. We want to be with the American uncle." and she says, "Get out!" Regarding that scene with the borscht, my mother used to watch me eat and I hated it. I told Helen, "Just make him [Kissinger] feel uncomfortable." He's getting a taste of the soup and those two ladies are looking at him. I just feel like that it's just little bits and pieces of absurdity.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How challenging was it to decide what to omit from Golda Meir's life to keep the running time under 2 hours?

GN: It was very difficult. There are many scenes that didn't get in. There were more scenes with Golda and Lou Kaddar, her assistant. They had this terrific bond of relationship between these two women that I wanted to show, but I couldn't make a three-hour or four-hour movie. So, obviously there was some stuff cut out, but maybe you'll see it in the director's cut.

NYC MOVIE GURU: If Golda Meir were still alive today, what questions would you ask her?

GN: "What do you think about what's going on today in Israel today with Benjamin Netanyahu and what he's doing to the judicial system?"

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