In a world of film adaptations of popular books, multiple Spider-Man franchises, and enough prequels and sequels to keep audiences satisfied for years, it isn’t often film-goers come across a truly unique and fearless piece of work.
Enter “Atomic Falafel.” The satire is written and directed by Dror Shaul, an Israeli filmmaker known for his 1999 cult-classic comedy “Mivtza Savta” (“Operation Grandma”) and his 2006 autobiographical film “Adama Meshuga’at” (“Sweet Mud”) which took home the Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema–drama at the Sundance Film Festival.
Called an “exuberant, delightfully absurd comedy” by Variety, the production of “Atomic Falafel” had huge aspirations–Shaul’s intention was for the film to be the first Israeli-Iranian co-production in history. After a five and a half year struggle to finance the film, and Iranian producers dropping out a mere two months before shooting began, it’s incredible the movie was still able to get made.
Pushing a generally pro-peace message, the wacky satire is being regarded as Shaul’s own “Dr. Strangelove.” “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” a 1964 political satire black comedy film by Stanley Kubrick that critic Roger Ebert described as “arguably the best political satire of the century.”
“Atomic Falafel” tells the story of two teenage girls living in towns housing nuclear reactors, one in Iran, the other in Israel, connecting and forming a relationship over the internet. Shaul was fascinated with the idea that while the adults in the world of “Atomic Falafel” (as well as the real world) are producing weapons of mass destruction while the younger generations are doing the exact opposite over the internet. Bonding over mutual interests in music, fashion, and ideas, Shaul told the Jerusalem Post “They [teens] all want to be popular, they all have slang, their attitude is the same.”
And while the director certainly pokes fun at the current tensions between Iran and Israel, his intentions were to simply make light of a very serious situation, but not to provoke anger. He told the Jerusalem Post he hoped his film would inspire viewers to “…look at the serious side, to look at army issues, and the pathos and the heroism we were brought up with and say, does it still work?”