Shalom Life | May 12, 2014

Director Emmanuel Naccache On Conning the Audience in ‘Kidon’

Shalom Life chats with the director of the hit Israeli movie starring Bar Refaeli and Tomer Sisley

By: Ilan Mester

Published: May 9th, 2014 in Culture » Film » Interviews

It’s safe to say Kidon isn’t your typical Israeli film. For starters, it’s a con movie that stars well-known actors from both French and Israeli cinema. And, unlike a good chunk of movies produced in the Holy Land, director Emmanuel Naccache’s latest flick is a full-blown comedy.

The French-raised, Israel-based filmmaker admits he was a little worried that his film might not find an audience because of the lack of comedies in Israel.

“There used to be [comedies] in the ‘70s, early ‘80s,” he tells Shalom Life ahead of a screening at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. “Some 20, 25 years ago it started getting very political. Most of the movies are very social, very dark, very politically oriented – very involved with the conflict. There are not so many comedies and for sure there are not many that make fun of things like the Mossad or the Arabs or the diplomacy.”

To his relief, the movie (which was released last October in Israel) became a bonafide hit. “People really enjoyed it because I think there’s something refreshing about it.”

Kidon reimagines the now famous Dubai killing of Mahmoud al Mabhouh, which made headlines around the world back in 2010. Naccache remembers he was sitting at a café when he came across the bizarre story in a newspaper and instantly thought it would make a great movie.

The director says he was also stunned by the fact that within hours of the event, people had already accepted that the Mossad was behind the killing. “Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. I’m not from the Mossad so I don’t know,” he says.

He decided to give the story his own spin. “It’s not less or more plausible – just another version based on the same facts,” he says. “And that’s how it all started.”

He adds: “I wanted to make it a comedy partly because I’m an Israeli filmmaker and we don’t have budgets to make Hollywood-type movies, so I didn’t want to make something that looked like an American movie with lots of explosions – I didn’t have a way to do it. And I didn’t want to do something too serious because so many people do serious movies.”

The writer-director took inspiration from Ocean’s 11, but promises his film differs from the American crime comedy. “It’s very different because it’s a different type of subject and it’s French and Israeli. And George and Brad didn’t star in Kidon,” he jokes, adding that in his original draft two of the characters were named after George Clooney and Brad Pitt so that he would stay in that Ocean’s 11 mind frame.

Naccache didn’t get to work with Hollywood legends, but he did score some of the biggest names in France and Israel. In Kidon, supermodel Bar Refaeli and French humorist Tomer Sisley share the screen with veteran actors such as Sasson Gabai and Hippolyte Girardot. And the list of household names goes on and on.

“My first movie was the same thing; mixing French and Israeli actors, and languages,” he explains. “Doing something that is kind of similar to what I am, with both cultures and both nationalities. This time, I really wanted to go a step further with more actors and taking people who would never have any opportunities to act together.”

The filmmaker admits he wasn’t sure what to expect from Refaeli, who didn’t have many acting credits under her belt. In the end, he says the supermodel was a natural. “She ended up being amazing. She’s a very nice, very sweet girl,” he says, revealing that she dedicated herself to the project and was nervous to act opposite Gabai.

“If you have to spend four years working on a movie, why not work with Bar Refaeli?” he jokingly adds.

Naccache says it took him that long because he developed, wrote and directed the flick. “When you’re a one-stop shop, it’s four years or three years where you do all sorts of different things,” he explains. “For a very long time you’re alone in front of your laptop and then you have to deal with the whole raising money issue, which is going to producers and selling it.”

Once that’s been settled, he brings in a cast and crew. “From being alone you end up being the CEO of a small startup of 100 people,” he says. “But you know it’s only for two or three months. You don’t even have time to fight or to have some political issues, so it’s really nice.”

At the end of the day, he’s just happy that the film is completed and turned out the way he imagined.

“I always wanted to do a movie that no one could tell me, ‘Okay I saw it coming from the beginning,’ ” he says. “A con movie, of course you tell the story of a con, but you mostly con the audience. And audiences really love being conned.”

For screening times in Toronto, visit

TJFF Review: ‘Hunting Elephants’ Trending James Franco’s ‘Child of God’ Picked Up for North American Distribution TrendingJames Franco to David Letterman: People Want to See Me Nude James Franco to David Letterman: People Want to See Me Nude Trending

What You Missed in the News: May 4 - 11

May 11, 2014 | By Daniel Koren

Our Top Stories this week include Dave Franco & Conan O'Brien, the Top Places to visit in Israel, the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, Louis C.K., Idan Raichel, Neil Blumenthal, and more

Read More

TJFF Review: ‘Hunting Elephants’

May 10, 2014 | By Ilan Mester
TJFF Review: ‘Hunting Elephants’

Shalom Life reviews the hits Israeli comedy starring Patrick Stewart and Sasson Gabai

Read More

The Top Ten Places To Visit In Israel

May 09, 2014 | By Caitlin Marceau

As summer is quickly approaching, we take a look at all the sights and sounds of the Holy Land

Read More

James Franco’s ‘Child of God’ Picked Up for North American Distribution

May 09, 2014 | By Sarah Bauder

Based on Cormac McCarthy's novel of the same name, the film stars Scott Haze as the depraved Lester Ballard.

Read More

Mila Kunis Reveals Details of Her Pregnancy on Ellen

May 09, 2014 | By Ashley Ramnarain

Kunis is craving Sauerkraut, having the baby this year, and has already chosen a name.

Read More

El Al Now Offers 30% More Flights from North America

May 09, 2014 | By Ynet News

The Israeli airline is offering 22 weekly nonstop flights from NY to TLV and four from Toronto

Read More

James Franco to David Letterman: People Want to See Me Nude

May 09, 2014 | By Ashley Ramnarain

The 'Of Mice and Men' actor explained his fascination with posted nearly naked photos on Instagram

Read More

Gwyneth Paltrow Defends Controversial Working Mom Comments

May 09, 2014 | By Ashley Ramnarain

The recently "consciously uncoupled" actress takes to Goop to explain how her comments were taken out of context

Read More

More Headlines