Posted by: jbwuk | March 9, 2011

Guest Blogger: Lana Citron on Tel Aviv Stories

In reality it was midday, on a bitter cold Sunday in London. However, as an attendee of Jewish Book, 2011, I was transported to Tel Aviv to bask in the sunshine of Tel Aviv stories.
Israeli director, author and playwright, Shira Geffen was in conversation with Linda Grant and began the session by sharing with us the inspiration for her first film Jellyfish, which she wrote and co-directed with her husband Etgar Keret.
Jellyfish won the Camera d’Or at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. Described as a poignant, witty, dreamscape, it tells the story of three very different Tel Aviv women. A ‘non- political’ Israeli movie, it found success in the US and across Europe. Sadly, it was not on public release here in the UK though is available on DVD. I haven’t yet had the pleasure of watching it but many of the audience gathered had.
The kernel of the film grew from a memory of Geffen’s own childhood when as a little girl of four she was on a day out with her parents at Tel Aviv beach.
In the sea with a flotation ring circling her middle, Geffen recalled how she bobbed and drifted whilst watching her parents argue on the shoreline. For the first time ever, she became conscious of feeling alone and separate from her parents. These themes of being emotionally adrift, ‘at sea’ flow through her film underpinning the narrative action played out on screen;  that of life’s  seemingly random and coincidental connections between people.
Despite the tenuous nature of personal connections and feelings of ‘being worlds apart’ Geffen believes we are all of us connected, citing Tel Aviv beach as an example; the same sand and water that mere miles further along the coast is shared by the people of Gaza.
The little girl in the rubber ring appears in the film and this life saving ring is even used as a motif in the book of the script, which has just been published. Geffen admits that the film’s characters were loosely drawn from her own family. She and her husband have small cameo’s roles and her father-in-law who was in real life an ice-cream man plays one.
As to the significance of the title Jellyfish… Geffen noted how this transparent creature lurking unseen beneath the water, devoid of heart, brain, muscles  and bone, nevertheless has the capacity to sting, much like life’s unforeseen hurts.

Lana Citron is the author of five novels, Sucker, Spilt Milk, Transit, The Honey Trap, The Brodsky Touch and the non-fiction book,  A Compendium of Kisses: described  by The  Economist as ‘an intellectual and indulgent treat; a wonderful and comprehensive book on all things osculatory.’ See more at


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