Director Ori Sivan
Abraham is the conductor of the Jerusalem Philharmonic and his wife Sarah, the symphony’s gifted harpist is unable to have children. When Hagar, an Arabic horn player offers to bear Sarah’s child, a story of music’s ability to unite humanity unfolds. This film depicts the bond of a family against the backdrop of two cultures at opposition, while exploring music as a source of faith. See go2films.com.
Why retell this specific story from the Book of Genesis?
From a social point of view, it was amazing for me to discover how actual and up to date the story written thousands of years ago is. I felt it was meaningful to look back at our sources of moral issues and see that humanistic questions did not really change from biblical days to the advanced world we live in today. In Harmonia, Sarah, before her decision to let Hagar be a surrogate mother for her, tells Abraham “things like that were also done in the old days”. By this I indicate that times haven’t really changed on the most important moral and humanistic issues.
From the political aspect of the film, I wanted to remind Israelis and people from all over the world, that Isaac, the metaphoric father of Jews and Ismail, the metaphoric father of Arabs where actually brothers. I think it is important to remember this and show the love between Isaac and Ismail, and by that allow people to look at the Israeli–Palestinian conflict from a mythological aspect and maybe understand it must be solved in peaceful manner, as between brothers.
Can you describe the process of selecting the music featured in this film?
Finding the right classical pieces for the film was a long process. I was listening to many different composers from the most famous to ones I’ve never heard of before. I had many musical aides and I’ve gotten a lot of smart advice, but my choices were finally taken from my deepest intuition.
Did you experience challenges during the making of this film?
The biggest challenge for me as the screenwriter for the biblical adaptation was to decide upon a world to set the story. My decision to place the plot in the world of a classical orchestra was not strait forward. I was inspired from my grandmother (Klara Sarvash) who was the first harpist of the Israeli Philharmonic, and her dynamics with different conductors. It helped me find the relationship triangle that reflected in an interesting and reviling way–the relations I imagined between Abraham, Sarah and Hagar. I saw their trio relationship not as romantic, but dramatic. I found the relationship between Sarah and Hagar as the key for the creation of new life (being the actual players) while Abraham is responsible for the setting (being the conductor who does not actually play).
The setting of an orchestra created a directing challenge. Alon Aboutboul (Abraham) had to learn the basic movements and gestures a conductor uses to lead his orchestra. Tali Sahron (Sarah), and Yana Yosefh (Hagar) had to learn to play the harp and the horn and I had to direct their playing parallel to their acting. Performing the second act of Francois Boieldiue’s Concerto for Orchestra and Harp “cost” Tali Sharon the presence of harp in her living room and four month of intensive training.
What is this film trying to convey about music’s role in society?
Music has the power to unify people, especially classical musical music. It’s created by an ensemble of musicians in the form of an orchestra, with different instrumental sections that have to cooperate in order to create music and perform it harmoniously. The orchestra is used as a metaphor in my film to reflect the need of human beings to cooperate in order to achieve their goals. Music is also a way of communication between people. It appears in a verity of ways in the film.
Music is universal. It has many styles and types with cultural origins, yet it does not segregate or discriminate between people and its pure goal is the strive for Harmony.