If you look hard enough you can find a lighter side to almost anything. Yes, even to the Iranian bomb (and I’m not talking light or heavy water here).
In a case of art imitating life – or rather, as the Times of Israel puts it, “life imitating art imitating life“, just as the P5+1 negotiations with Iran were reaching a crescendo, an Israeli film crew almost caused an international incident whilst filming an exceedingly silly advert for an Israeli phone company in Kiev, an advert whose theme, funnily enough, was “Stop the Bomb!” (h/t cba).
Here’s the story (which has been doing the rounds for a couple of weeks now). Try to keep up. . And note the name of the production company.
A new commercial for the Bezeq phone company in which actor Gidi Gov flies to “Tehran” and faces off against the ayatollahs, which premiered on Israeli TV two weeks ago, just as world powers were finalizing their nuclear accord with Iran, appeared to be a case of art imitating life. Turns out it was actually a case of life imitating art imitating life.
While filming the ad, in and around a sports stadium in Kiev, the crew was confronted by three Iranians who said they were from the embassy, wanting to know why the stadium was decorated with huge posters of ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei and other Iranian signs. The Israelis responded by claiming they were working on a Polish, rather than, heaven forbid, a production for the state commonly described by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as the “Zionist entity”.
Bezeq approached Tel Aviv company Mullah Productions, [ 🙂 ] which hired veteran Rani Carmeli to direct the 90-second ad. They settled on locations in Kiev that could be set up to resemble Tehran’s international airport, an Iranian street market and a nuclear facility.
Actor-singer Gov was cast as an asthmatic salesman flying into the airport, tensely clearing passport control, grabbing a taxi and stopping for a bite to eat, before arriving at an Iranian nuclear control center just as the ayatollahs are about to detonate a device.
The ad was filmed on a one-day shoot, with more than 80 extras playing customs officials, flight attendants for Iran Air, military officers, and ayatollahs. The production designers transformed Kiev’s Olympiyskiy National Sports Complex into the Imam Khomeini International Airport, complete with the leaders’ photos, Iranian flags and Farsi signage.
All was going smoothly until mid-afternoon, when the crew was close to finishing its filming at the stadium. That’s when the three men who identified themselves as staffers from the Iranian embassy approached one of the producers and asked why the bustling location was so extensively festooned with Iranian regalia.
The Iranian trio were pretty intimidating, Gil Boraks, a producer for Mullah Productions who was at the shoot, told The Times of Israel.
“They wanted to know, What’s going on? Who is filming? And what is this about?” added Aviram Cohen, a spokesperson for PR 360, which represents Bezeq. (Cohen wasn’t in Kiev, but was filled in on what had happened when the crew returned.)
The team thought it might not be prudent to acknowledge that they were Israeli nationals filming an ad satirizing Iran’s nuclear program.
“I suddenly felt like the film and reality were being mixed,” ad director Carmeli told Ynet. “Suddenly the local producer comes over, sweating and anxious, and whispers that policemen and people from the Iranian embassy have arrived. The Iranians asked for details about what we were doing there, and for everyone’s names.”
A Ukrainian co-producer was sent to defuse the potential conflict. He was instructed to tell the Iranians that they were working on a Polish production, and gave the trio the name and number of a Polish producer with whom Mullah had worked in the past.
This Polish colleague was then quickly contacted, and warned to expect a call.
The rest of the crew were told to finish up at the stadium pronto, and move on to their next location, a few hundred yards away.
Watch the (really very silly) ad here:
Unfortunately the Hebrew and pidgin-English are hard to translate accurately, but you get the picture. The final scene has actor Gidi Gov saying “Plan B: 2 Persians walk into a restaurant….”. The rest is left to our imagination. 🙂
The ToI article concludes with life catching up with the art that is imitating life:
The ad has been broadcast frequently on TV in the past two weeks, including during Channel 2 and Channel 10 nightly news broadcasts — intermittent companion to Khamenei’s “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” rhetoric, and the efforts of officials from the P5+1 powers to assure Israelis that their nuclear deal will make Israel safer.
Sometimes life is truly stranger than art, even the crazy surreal art produced by cheesy Israeli adverts.