Matthew Kalman had fun making Brit movie — and hopes he can cut it in Britain

From The Jewish Chronicle
Candice Krieger
March 26, 2009

‘Circumcise Me’. That’s the name of the debut movie by Jerusalem-based news reporter and film director Matthew Kalman.

Mr Kalman, 48, teamed up with photographer David Blumenfeld to co-direct the hit comedy. Circumcise Me: The Comedy of Yisrael Campbell traces the life of Catholic boy-turned-Jewish comedian Yisrael Campbell, whose story turns out to be one of wild self-discovery.

Mr Campbell — formerly known as Chris Campbell — undergoes three conversions: from Catholicism to Reform Judaism, to Conservative Judaism and then to Orthodox Judaism.

The film, which has been generating a lot of interest at film festivals across Canada and the US, has now arrived in the UK.

Mr Kalman, who made aliyah ten years ago, tells People: “During the intifada, I spent a lot of time reporting on and filming people getting blown up. People were generally interested in blood and guts and it was all very depressing. David and I decided we wanted to do something more fun. I went to see Yisrael perform and knew we had our subject.”

They started working on the film in 2005. It took three years to complete. “It was a really long process,” says Mr Kalman, who reports for Channel 4 in the UK, among other media. “I am a news reporter but have always been interested in comedy. I thought making a film would be easy. I was wrong.”

Nonetheless, Mr Kalman is pleased with the outcome. “There is a Life of Brian-type feel to the film,” he says. “It is a really funny, feelgood creation. It’s about the intifada but it’s also about how life is lived in Israel. As journalists here, we often have to cover deaths — but we wanted to capture that absurdist humour.”

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