The feature film debut from Israeli director Ofir Raul Graizer should come with a warning. “Do not enter this theater when hungry.” While many films thematically can provide food for thought, Graizer’s love ode literally utilizes food as a conduit for its storytelling.
The movie begins In a German bakery, whose delectable enticements initiate a romance between the baker Thomas (Tim Kalkhof) and a married business traveler from Israel, Oren (Roy Miller). When Oren dies suddenly in a car crash back in Israel, Thomas travels to Jerusalem seeking answers; which leads him to his lover’s widowed wife Anat (Sarah Adler), who happens to run a local café. Seeking a way to find out more about who Oren was, Thomas takes a job at the café. As his baking skills become apparent they bring not only a surge of economic life to the small restaurant but an opportunity for him to get closer to Anat and her son. But that relationship is a ticking clock, as the pressures of both their cultural clash and the unraveling of the truth begin to lead toward a confrontation that neither expected.
What lends this film an air of authenticity is the fact that it is based on an incident ten years ago of a friend of Grazier’s who led a double life; married yet secretly dating men. It wasn’t until his death that his wife found out which provided the filmmaker with a provoking question; “How can you grieve for someone who lied to you?” Grazier, who studied film, trained in kitchens as a chef and will soon publish a Middle Eastern cookbook, took the intimate setting of the café to then tackle that question and use it to explore love, family, religion and of course, food.
On a more personal note, the film also resonated to the openly gay creator as he used aspects of the movie to explore the concept of masculinity in his home country. Noting how the religion-based society in Israel, as with many countries around the world, is rooted in macho, militant and patriarchal inclinations, The Cakemaker provided him an opportunity to examine the personal exploration of people. It is his hope that the film will show that even the intolerant, through personal and emotional connection, can sometimes see beyond strict boundaries and definitions.