For the Screamfest premiere of THE GOLEM, I had the chance to speak with directors Doron and Yoav Paz about their latest film where I received more insight into the complex depth and significance of their film. During our chat we discussed everything from grief and loss, feminism, developing tolerance, and showing respect for others. Read on to learn more.
Nightmarish Conjurings: What was it like for you both growing up hearing about the story of the Golem?
Doron & Yoav Paz: The Golem stories are well known in Israel and we think every kid knows about it in some way or another. It’s like a Jewish Frankenstein or a Jewish superhero. We didn’t grow up in an orthodox house, but this story, about a giant monster who saves the Jews from their enemies - it blew our minds.
Nightmarish Conjurings: How did your film expand on the story of the Golem in Jewish folklore?
Doron & Yoav Paz: In the beginning, when we just started on the idea for the movie, we tried to tell the story as it is. That is with the real giant creature made of mud and clay, but then we realized that this is not the story we want to tell. We like character-driven horror so dealing with just a giant monster wasn’t that appealing for us. That’s how we came up with the idea of dealing with a golem KID. This is much more compelling and deals with dark dramatic conflicts which we love.
Nightmarish Conjurings: There are a lot of elements of grief and loss in the film, what inspired you to bridge horror with grief and loss?
Doron & Yoaz Paz: As we said before, we think that a good horror movie has another layer to it. It can never be just about killings and blood splashes. We loved the idea of creating life, playing god. It’s hubris and there are always consequences. The idea of creating life not just to protect the collective, but also to satisfy personal desires like the couple in the movie (Hanna and Benji). While dealing with the memories of a dead child, you can confront your protagonist and other characters with their darkest fears and deepest pain, and as filmmakers - this is always good stuff to deal with.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Having a strong female protagonist who is struggling against the patriarchal structure of her village sends a strong feminist message. When you were making the film, was there an intention to empower women audience-goers?
Doron & Yoaz Paz: We didn’t have a political intention, but more of a storytelling intention. We love dealing with female characters. It’s much more complicated for us and challenging to tell the story through the eyes of a woman and if it’s a woman running away from being a mother - well, that’s drama. We started working on the movie before the #MeToo movement so it wasn’t really in our heads, but we loved the idea of a woman fighting for her right to study Kaballah and to be treated like one of the men.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Given the complex and deeply layered narrative, what would you like the audience to take away from seeing your film?
Doron & Yoaz Paz: Though THE GOLEM takes place a few hundreds of years ago, we see this movie as contemporary as it deals with real up-to-date events. It’s about hating the different/not accepting those who are not like you and about the blind hatred that is spreading all over the world these days. If there is one thing we hope people will take from the movie (other than a good story and a good scare here and there) is to have tolerance and to respect other human beings.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Are there any projects that you are both working on that we should be keeping our eyes out for in the future?
Doron & Yoaz Paz: We are currently getting ready to shoot a historical thriller called PLAN A. It’s a revenge story based on real events and it’s a gripping true story. Other than that, we have another TV project and 2 more scripts in the pipeline, so this is a very exciting time for us.
THE GOLEM will be released in February 2019.