EXCLUSIVE: Deadline can reveal the first teaser for Guy Nattiv’s biopic Golda starring Helen Mirren as Israel’s iconic Prime Minister Golda Meir ahead of its world premiere at the Berlinale next week (Feb 20).
“As someone who grew up with Golda as a heroic myth, almost beyond human, and as the only female prime minister in the history of the Middle East, I want people to see how Helen adds a brilliant layer of soul, wisdom, humor and courage to the character of Golda,” Israeli Oscar-winning director Nattiv told Deadline.
“She turns her into a flesh and blood human, capturing the impossible situation Golda faced, all while secretly undergoing cancer treatments,” he continued.
“Golda was the wrong person at the wrong time in the wrong place, leading a country on the verge of destruction. It is still today considered a huge trauma for Israelis. Our film is a deep dive into this tragedy.”
Based on a screenplay by Nicholas Martin (Florence Foster Jenkins), the picture focuses on the events of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
The conflict between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by President Anwar Sadat of Egypt ratcheted up Cold War tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
The clip shows a tense telephone exchange between Meir and U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, played by Liev Schreiber, over the fate of 30,000 trapped soldiers belonging to Egypt’s so-called Third Army.
Kissinger had positioned himself as a key peace negotiator in the conflict in a move aimed at leveraging U.S. influence and advancing its interests in the Middle East.
“We’ll send them water when they send our prisoners back and Sadat agrees to direct talks with Israel, not the Zionist entity, Israel,” a tough-talking Meir tells Kissinger. “If he doesn’t, I will order my planes to attack and all those men will die, all of them.”
When Kissinger warns that the destruction of the Third Army would lead to the toppling of Sadat and the installation of a Soviet-backed leader in neighboring Egypt, Meir defiantly recalls her childhood in Kyiv.
“Let me tell you about the Russians, Henry. When I was a child in Ukraine, at Christmas time my father would board up the windows of our house to protect us from Cossacks who would get drunk and attack Jews,” she says.
“My father would hide us in the cellar… my father’s face, Henry, I will never forget that look. All he wanted to do was protect his children. I am not that little girl hiding in the cellar.”
Nattiv said the scene captures a key moment in Meir’s handling of the conflict and Mirren’s performance.
“This clip shows Golda, emotional and fierce in the most difficult days of her life,” said Nattiv. “Golda keeps her calm, acting with great courage, and does not fold in the face of skepticism and pressure from a major leader. She takes responsibility under extremely difficult conditions. Unfortunately, she never got any credit for that,” he adds.
“I remember shooting this scene and when we went in for Helen’s close up I had goosebumps as she played Golda recalling her haunted childhood so perfectly. Helen became Golda on a spiritual and cellular level, and this moment was electrifying to watch,” he added.
Oscar-winner Nattiv has a two-decade-long relationship with the Berlinale and was last at the festival with the white supremacist drama Skin in Panorama in 2019.
“This is my fourth film at Berlinale, and the festival has a huge place in my heart and career,” he said.
“I was in my 20s when I first came to Berlin with my short film from graduate school, The Flood, and participated in my first-ever Talent Campus. That winter in 2002 changed my life forever. I’d never imagine that 21 years later I will screen my film with the legendary Helen Mirren in the beautiful Berlinale Palast. It’s a full-circle moment for me.
The biopic is produced by BAFTA-winner Michael Kuhn (Florence Foster Jenkins). Embankment handles international sales. Bleecker Street and ShivHans Pictures pre-acquired U.S. rights in 2021 in a deal negotiated by ICM Partners and CAA Media Finance.
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