Home > Festivals and Events > Interview about Fear(s) with Ilay Mevorach, director of Open your eyes

Interview about Fear(s) with Ilay Mevorach, director of Open your eyes

Wednesday 18 April 2018, by Clotilde Couturier

"Open your eyes" was in International Competition at Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival 2018 :


Your film is dealing with the question of fear occurring in a daily routine, why were you interested in depicting this feeling?
Fear is a very strong emotion. It is present, it drives to action, all of which makes it very cinematic. We all encounter fear on a day to day basis, in different volumes. Every human experiences it, and presenting it during a daily routine reviles, in my opinion, in a more subtle way a character. In addition a fear that accrues in a daily routine, is usually far more personal, and the more specific and personal it is, the more interesting.

How did you plan your takes and shots to depict that fear? Why? And did you use a lot of close-ups to depict that fear?
Eye checks are conducted in the dark. They are very intimate, and many times the patients feel as if the doctor is looking straight to their soul. My cinematographer, Eyal Elisha, suggested we use red light in order to express Ilana’s growing stress during the check. Using this technique, we tried to express the uncomfortable feeling and enrich the fear that was expressed.
We also used quite a bit of close-ups to express the small, tight, personal and tense situation that Ilana was experiencing. On the other hand, It was important for us to also present both Ilana and Dr. Huri in the same shot and the interpersonal dynamic that slowly evolved.

How did you work on the music ? Did you want to make it sound specifically dramatic?
The music was composed by Habib Shehade Hanna, a known composer in the Israeli film industry. He is a true professional! I didn’t aim for dramatic music in particular; I wanted the music to express acknowledgment, a small awakening. We started the work by thinking of the instruments we thought were best for that objective. After we decided where we thought the music would give the greatest impact, we agreed to level it up at the end of the film.

Why did you take a woman as the main character?
As I said in the La Brasserie du Court’s interview, I got the inspiration for the film from a visit to the eye clinic with my grandma. I wanted to integrate a strong family relationship to the film and decided that a mother-son one was a good fit for the situation. In fact, I didn’t choose a woman, I chose a mother.

How big and how deep would you describe your character’s fear?
A fear from getting hurt is well known to us all, it’s probably the first fear we experience as human beings. Ilana’s fear is the biggest, deepest version of that fear; it is an existential fear, which paralyses logic and conquers behaviour. Ilana is sure she is in a true danger, although she is in a hospital, with her son and other people around.

Your film is showing a situation of fear resulting from a larger conflict between peoples of different ethnic origins and cultures claiming the same territory. Did you write "Open your eyes" with the idea of this conflict as a trivialized situation in the film’s protagonists minds ? Is it actually one in everyday’s Israeli society ?
Ilana the protagonist is afraid of Arabs. When she sees one she’s automatically alerted and aware. Although she knows not all Arabs are terrorist, and although Dr. Khoury (her new physician) is an Israeli citizen just like her, she’s not going to take the risk. She won’t put herself in a room, in a vounrabel situation with a man she is suspicious of, regardless the fact that she never met him - and he is a doctor.

This racist reaction is due to the life she lives, as a Jew in Jerusalem.
This complex city is the home of several ethnic origins, and is sacred to all. It is a crowded city in which religious and non-religious Jews live next to religious and non-religious Arabs.
When she hears about Arabs in the press or just from personal talk, in 90 percent of the time it is in a negative way. So to the best of her knowledge, when she sees one she is alerted.
On top of that, Ilana is also afraid from the fact that her physician was changed, which gives her discomfort regardless of his ethnic origin.
There are quite a few Israeli Jews that feel that way, suspicious of Arabs and far worse. On the other side, I know that there are more than a few Palestinians who see Israelis automatically as soldiers in a checkpoint. Unfortunately that is the reality in Jerusalem, and in more areas of Israel.

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