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Walk on water - Lior Ashkenazi, Knut Berger, Carolina Peters, Eytan Fox

Threat advisory: Elevated - Significant risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Eyal (Lior Ashkenazi), an assassin for Mossad is given the mission to track down the very old Alfred Himmelman, an ex-Nazi officer, who might be still alive. Pretending to be a tourist guide he befriends his grandson Axel (Knut Berger), in Israel to visit his sister, Pia (Caroline Peters). He wants to convince her to come back to Germany for their father's birthday party.

The two men set out on an extended tour of the country during which, Axel's frank and open attitude challenges Eyal's rigid, clichéd values. Their friendship grows until he learns of Axel's homosexuality. With this final straw he leaves.

To finish his mission Eyal has to go to Germany. He meets Axel once more and succeeds in being invited to the family party where secrets will be revealed.

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film Germany Israel assassin Mossad spy gay straight drama Nazi

Persons of interest

  • Lior Ashkenazi .... Eyal
  • Knut Berger .... Axel Himmelman
  • Caroline Peters .... Pia Himmelman
  • Gideon Shemer .... Menachem
  • Hanns Zischler .... Father of Axel and Pia
  • Carola Regnier .... Mother of Axel and Pia
  • Gal Uchovsky .... Screenwriter
  • Eytan Fox .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Walk on water is a curious little film that could've been made in Australia if it wasn't for the fact that it wasn't. The characters are all damaged, the landscape is wide open (and just a little peculiar) and the actors are attractively un-pretty. The plot is like watching a bunch of cars approaching the same intersection, knowing that none of them are going to stop before there's an horrendous crash.

Mmmm... car crash.

You don't have to be tri-lingual but it helps.

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Languages: English, German, Hebrew
  • Picture: Widescreen
  • Special features:
    • Documentaries: Making of Walk on water - a special from the première in Berlin with interviews with all cast (40 minutes)
    • Featurettes: Entertainment news special (30 minutes)
    • Music video: Cinderella Rockerfella
    • Trailers: Theatrical
  • Subtitles: English

Security censorship classification

M (Adult themes, low level sex scenes, low level coarse language, nudity)

Surveillance time

104 minutes (1:44 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 5 May 2005
DVD rental: 14 December 2005
VHS rental: 14 December 2005
DVD retail: 29 March 2006

Cinema surveillance images

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Production notes

"It took more than six years to make this movie"

The first thing Eytan Fox and Gal Uchovsky did when they decided to make the movie was to take a road trip throughout Germany. They travelled from Heidelberg to Baden-Baden, then north to Nierenberg, Dresden and Berlin. On the way they even spent a night in Rothenberg ob der Tauber, the city of wooden toys.

The original script had many German cities in it, but for financial reasons, they ended up shooting in Berlin. Axel and Pia's parents' villa stands next to Lake Wannsee.

No German fund or production company invested in this movie, but many German friends helped in the writing and shooting of this movie, among them German filmmaker Andreas Struck and filmmaker and Panorama director, Wieland Speck. Later, actors Knut Berger and Carolina Peters gave their own valuable input to the script.

It was important to the filmmakers that the movie also represent the local German point of view.

The filmmakers believe that the fact that Israelis are still so obsessed with the Holocaust and their status as victims renders them blind to the fact they themselves have become aggressors, imposing pain and suffering on the Palestinians. The filmmakers believe that the first step in helping the Israelis understand how cruel they themselves have become lies in making some kind of peace with their own traumatic past.

The first development money for the script of Walk on water came from the Israeli Film Fund and the European Medea Fund. The Israeli Film Fund, together with Hot, the Israeli cable company, went on to become the primary investors in the movie.

Producer Amir Harel of LAMA Productions became involved at an early stage of production, after director Fox met with several Israeli producers and decided that Harel was the one who understood the script the same way he did.

Fox, Uchovsky and Harel then began the long journey to find financial backing for the movie in a road that took them all over Germany as well as to New York, Los Angeles and Venice. At one point, after having been rejected by the NRW fund in Cologne, they decide to produce something fast, in the meantime. That's how the successful Yossi and Jagger came about.

In one of their fund-raising excursions they met with a woman from KirchMedia, after having been warned that these people were particularly commercial. After reading the script, the woman indeed complained: "Why does the brother need to be gay?" and "Why should they talk about the past?" A few months later, the company succumbed to financial difficulties.

The filmmakers see their movie as a study on masculinity. They believe that the voyage Eyal, the Mossad agent, must take in order to connect with his own feelings is a road that many men have yet to travel. Many of their own closest family members and best friends are "Eyals". Even more so, they believe some of Israel's best sons are still growing up into men like Eyal, who need a good shake.

Eytan Fox chose Lior Ashkenazi to play the lead role at a very early stage. There were no auditions, although he met with some other Israeli actors that had heard about the movie and wanted to talk about it. Fox and Ashkenazi have become close friends during last couple of years.

For Israeli audiences, actor Gideon Shemer, who plays Menachem, the aging Mossad agent, has a special meaning - for many years Shemer played Anne Frank's father in a play produced by The Israeli Theatre for Young People, a play seen by every Israeli school child from the 70s through the mid-90s.

All the German actors were chosen in auditions held by Fox in Berlin. Hans Zichler was the only actor Fox was formerly familiar with, from his work with Wim Wenders.

Knut Berger and Carolina Peters spent a long time preparing and shooting the film in Israel, where they easily became part of the family and part of the Tel Aviv night-life. Everyone who met them in Israel fell in love with them. They are both very eager to go back in March for promotion and the Israeli première. The movie will open in Israel on 18 March 2004.

Music plays a lead role in all of Eytan Fox's movies. In this movie two things were decided at a very early stage: first is that Axel will listen only to female singers while Eyal is a Bruce Springsteen fan. The second is that the music of Esther Ofarim will be a main part of the movie.

Fox and Uchovsky are both big fans of Esther Ofarim. They believe she is one the worlds best performers. Uchovsky, a music critic, has even tried to convince her to record a new CD.

Fox and Uchovsky saw her perform live at an early stage of their relationship, and regard that performance as one of the best they have ever seen. They went to the show with a German friend of theirs named Axel who was a big Ofarim fan. Axel later died of AIDS. The character in the movie is named after him.

In 1975 scriptwriter Gal Uchovsky spent two weeks in Berlin as part of a student exchange program. His host was a sweet German girl named Pia Tanderski. The character Pia, played by Carolina Peters, is named after her.

Israeli pop star Ivri Lider was the natural choice for composer since he is talented, out, and a very dear friend of both Fox and Uchovsky, who had already worked successfully with him in Yossi and Jagger. The theme song of that film, Your soul, a remake of a classic by Israeli diva Rita, topped the local charts for two months straight.

For Walk on water, it was only natural that Lider and Rita would do a remake of Cinderella Rockefella. Rita also sang the theme song for Fox's first feature film Song of the siren. Rita has sung in all of Fox's features so far.

Walk on water was shot in Israel in late 2002. It was a very cold winter. The hardest day was shooting at the Dead Sea, where the actors almost froze while taking a shower and swimming in the cold water.

The shot in Berlin started in January 2003. It was stopped for a month due to Fox's mother sudden death, and resumed in February. During the 2003 Berlinale, Fox presented Yossi and Jagger and shot Walk on water simultaneously.

The budget for the movie was 1.4 million dollars. It was shot in 30 days. In addition to the money from the Israel Film Fund and Hot Israeli cable TV, the filmmakers were joined by Israeli distributors and film buffs, United King. Moshe and Leon Edri and their partners, Miki Rabinovitch and Dudi Zilber, have not only bought the distribution rights in Israel but also invested in the film itself, and have become its executive producers.

The movie was then bought by the French-based sales agents Celluloid Dreams, run by Hengameh Panahi. The company was involved in the movie from a very early stage. International sales director Pierre Menachem read the very first draft of the script, and gave the filmmakers a letter of interest that helped them to get their first funding. When the movie was finished, Celluloid watched it and immediately decided to represent it.

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