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Tribeca Women Directors: Meet Talya Lavie (Zero Motivation)

Women and Hollywood By Melissa Silverstein | Women and Hollywood April 15, 2014 at 11:00AM

"An administration office could be the most boring place on earth, but a staple-gun in the first act is sure to go off in the third."
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Still from "Zero Motivation"
Still from "Zero Motivation"

Talya Lavie is a director, screenwriter, and comics artist. She studied animation at the Bezalel Art Academy and graduated with merit from the Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem. She has also authored screenplays for various television dramas. 

Her short film "Sliding Flora" screened at New York City's MoMA and in over 40 film festivals worldwide. Her thesis film "The Substitute" received several international awards, notably the Audience Award in the Berlinale, the first-place prize in the Munich International Short Film Festival, and the first-place prize in the Melbourne International Film Festival. Zero Motivation, her first feature film, participated in the Sundance Directors and Screenwriters Lab. (Press materials)

Zero Motivation will debut at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 17.

Please give us your description of the film playing.

Through the story of three young women soldiers serving as secretaries, Zero Motivation provides a comitragic glimpse into Israeli military society. An administration office in the desert could be the most boring place on earth, but a staple gun in the first act is sure to go off in the third.

What drew you to this story?

During my mandatory military service as a secretary, I dreamed of making an army movie with the pathos and epic proportions of classic war films, but about the gray, mundane service that my friends and I had, hardly ever getting up from our office chairs. I was inspired and amused by the idea of using envelopes, coffee cups, office intrigues, staple guns, and solitaire in order to create a female response to the Israeli male-dominated army-film genre.

But above all that, the military service, which is a very local aspect of Israeli culture, is used in this film as a platform to tell a universal coming-of-age story about friendship and young persons' dreams and fears and need for self-determination.

What was the biggest challenge in making your film?

An interesting challenge was creating a low-budget army film without any actual help from the army, nor any possibility of using any of the real Israeli army bases for filming. Assembling all the details and locations to [create] a desert base was a complex effort that required all the crew's creativity.

Also, since the story takes place in 2004, we were surprised to discover how many things had changed over the last decade, but most were gadget-related, or had to do with antique computers, etc. The human feelings and personal stories didn't seem to change at all.

What advice do you have for other female directors?

Focus on what interests you, do everything to excel, and don't let any irrelevancies stand in your way. (I could probably say the same thing to a man. But what the hell.) 

Name your favorite women directed film and why.

Me and You and Everyone We Know by Miranda July. It's beautiful, free-spirited and filled with imagination.  

This article is related to: Interviews, Women Directors, Talya Lavie, Zero Motivation, Tribeca Film Festival


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