The film “Self Made” was part of the Film for Thought collection at HIFF. It is about an Israeli and Palestinian woman who end up switching lives by accident.
The Israeli woman, Michal, is a well known artist who wakes up one morning with memory loss. She can’t even remember her own name or that she is famous. She slowly draws conclusions about herself based on the people who surround herself. When she finds out that she is an artist, she goes to see the exhibit where her work is housed, only to find that she doesn’t like the type of person she is.
Before leaving she begins to set up a bed frame from a company called Ethaca, a spoof of Ikea. As she is putting together the frame, she realizes a screw is missing. Michal calls Ethaca and complains about the missing screw. The manager vows to make up for it by firing the person in charge of bagging the screws and also surprises Michal with complimentary furniture.
The person in charge of bagging the screws is the Palestinian woman, Nadine. Nadine isn’t very bright and admits to having “no sense of direction.” Because of this, she marks her way to work with loose screws and finds her way home by following the trail. She swears to her manager that she puts the required five screws in every bag, but when she turns out her pockets when he asks to see her work permit, her screws used for coming home fall out of her pocket. The manager concludes she is lying and fires her.
In a weird twist of events, Michal and Nadine end up in a holding cell together. A guard recognizes Michal and tells one of the others to set her free because she is famous. The other guard, unsure of which one Michal is, releases Nadine instead.
The two end up switching lives, without really knowing it because they both aren’t mentally stable.
At this point, the movie took a drastic change from being entertaining to confusing. I didn’t understand how no one in both Michal and Nadine’s lives did not realize that they weren’t the same person, especially because they both look completely different. I’m unsure if there was some type of deeper meaning to it. If this was the case, the message wasn’t relayed clearly and was not easy to decipher at all.
In the introduction for the film, the audience was told to keep in mind the themes of “inside and outside,” the symbolism of the screws and the conflict between Israel and Palestine. I would say that these themes did apply, but I still haven’t quite figured out what the screws represent. I noted it as the connection between their lives, but couldn’t come up with anything deeper than that.
Strangers I met in the elevator were also really confused and said that it actually made the movie horrible. There was a discussion held after, but I couldn’t stay longer for it. I also feel that if a movie requires a discussion to understand it, then something is lacking in the storyline. It really was a film for thought, but maybe too much thought in my opinion. I left with too many questions of what actually happened. I wouldn’t recommend this movie, unless you are into critical analysis for a film.
Below is a video I filmed and put together from the moments leading up to the screening. It includes a short introduction to the film by UH Manoa professor L. Ayu Saraswati.