MM: Speaking of which, you really have an eye for good-looking men.

RB: Everyone told me to change the title to “All the Gorgeous Men Are By Me.”

MM: Are any of the actors in the film Michal meets actually Hasidic?

RB: Not of them are Hasidim men. They’re all actors…. Oz Zehavi and Amos Tamam are both stars in Israel.

MM: How do you navigate the secular world of filmmaking, given you have strict religious rules, like women cannot be alone in a room with a man and you can’t work on the Sabbath?

RB: It’s very complicated. It is. Shabbat is not such a problem because everyone wants to take off. Everyone really respects that. And in terms of men and women, it’s very, very complicated. But I find that it’s complicated when you’re secular too. It’s just that you don’t thinking about it. Men and women working together in such an intimate environment like making a film… complicated. You have to set up a lot of boundaries there. I for example have a personal assistant that sits with me from day one on every meeting that I have with a man. If I have a meeting or sit with a man, I never sit with him alone. Always, my assistant is with me. And people that work with me get used to it, the fact that there’s someone in the room with us and that’s the way it works and we get used to it.

MM: This probably also prevents sexual harassment.

RB: True. Sexual harassment or falling in love; the situation when there’s not another woman in the room can go either way.

Amos Tamam and Koler in The Wedding Plan

MM: How did you learn to make films?

RB: I went to the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Israel, which is considered a very, very fine school. I was not religious when I graduated in 1995. I became religious right after finishing school, so I really studied the craft of making films at a very known place.

MM: What filmmakers inspire you? Unlike, say Quentin Tarantino, I can’t see any obvious influences in your work.

RB: It’s crazy that you say that because he’s one of the people whose films really interest me. Tarantino: What do I take from him? For me, he is like the king of hope. Because he takes something that seems like it won’t work—the bad guy fights the good guy, the underdog, and the good wins. He goes on a very violent road to get there, which I wouldn’t do, but in the end, the good guy wins in all of his films… In Django Unchained you can see this. I truly adore him. And I like Ang Lee very much… and I like, of course, Scorsese, all the big ones, and I like David Lynch. They are all on my radar. I love Andrea Arnold. I love Jane Campion. I see it all.

MM: Will there ever be sex or nudity in your films?

RB: No, there won’t, but there’s always the desire, and it’s stronger than sex.

MM: How does your religion affect your hiring decisions when it comes to cast and crew?

RB: I come from a spiritual, religious world. I don’t expect my crew or my cast to be religious, but I do feel that we have to have a certain kind of conversation so that I will be able to feel at home. So I probably would not cast a non-believer—not a religious non-believer, that is, but a person that is not open to all the options. Someone who feels that everything ends in a very narrow place will not be someone I will choose to work with. Any people who have wide-ranging thoughts and hearts are believers. What’s the spiritual way to think, to look at a thing? So that’s something that I look for in my actors when they come to audition.

MM: People think Israeli films will be political. Your films are romances. Do you purposely stay away from political themes?

RB: Not purposely. You just tell your tale. If I had a political tale to get out I would tell it. I care about men and women. That’s what I care about. I care about that enigma, that feeling that moves the world and brings life. I try to understand that, so I probably will always do a theme around that.

MM: What do you want viewers to take away with from this film?

RB: This film for me it’s about never giving up. I said, she’s going to marry. I’m not going to bring you all the way to the altar and just pull the rug underneath your feet and say, “No ,I’m not going to give it to you.” And that’s why I have the last scene about faith… It’s a dialogue. At some point you just see though that wall. You’re in a different place, and I wanted that challenge, and I truly, truly hope I managed to do that

MM: What’s the origin of the story for this film? I read that with Fill the Void someone told you a story that inspired the film. After that, did you get bombarded with people who wanted to tell you stories?

RB: They all get to me and they all think their story is the best story. And I respect that and I try to answer all the emails… And I hope God will give me the power to answer all the emails, because I really appreciate their courage to come out with their stories. But this story was invented. I dreamed up this story. It’s divine intervention [laughs]! MM

The Wedding Plan opened in theaters May 12, 2017, courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

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