Canneseries Competitor Sad City Girls Captures the Lives of Twentysomethings in Tel Aviv

Bringing a slick slice of Tel Aviv into the Canneseries TV festival on the French Riviera this week, the writer-director duo of Shir Reuven (“The Electrifiers”) and Talya Lavie (“Zero Motivation”) drew on their own coming-of-age experiences to create the TV series “Sad City Girls.”

It began with a script by Reuven who spent her twenties in Tel Aviv. Her directing partner Lavie spent hers in Jerusalem, but could relate to the experience when she read the script. Soon a creative team was born for the series. The first season will debut later this month on cable channel HOT, which financed the production.

“It was the first time I lived in a big city. It was mind blowing,” recalls Reuven of moving to Tel Aviv. “I had read a lot of stuff on the news that I had never seen before, like homeless people eating from the garbage.”

Lavie says: “She took a lot of inspiration from her own world. Her experience was similar to mine with a good roommate. It is so great and so terrible at the same time.”

“I feel like it doesn’t matter what city you spend your twenties in,” adds Lavie.

Reuven reached out to Lavie on a prayer when she applied for funding and was asked who she would like to direct.

“She said I’m so busy but send it to me. It’s definitely the best thing that happened to the series and one of the best things that happened to me. She ended up co-creating,” said Reuven.

So what is it that makes one’s twenties so complex?

“Life is knocking on your door, and saying: ‘Let’s go,’ but I think, and it’s the same for men too, that you are still a teenager inside but you are all grown up outside. You can pay taxes but your soul is still 16. You can do whatever you want. Live alone. Shoplift. Stay up all night. Do crazy things. Make mistakes. You are drunk from independence,” says Reuven.

“Sad City Girls” revolves around two Tel Aviv roommates with different lifestyles. Living together is not just about differences but also togetherness in the series.

“They are trying to build a home together,” Lavie says. “One has left her parent’s home, or she has left it technically but not emotionally. She is very symbiotic with her parents. The other one, her parents have been separated for many years. She spent time on the streets. She is a survivor and in a way she’s looking for a home.”

Our grandmothers did not have the freedom seen in the show but, also, “I think a lot of women are not free yet in their twenties,” Lavie says. “Israel is very diverse. The women in the series are very authentic, secular, young women.”

How did they work together? “It was like two children playing. I said I could bring this and she said I can add this. It’s like we had a lot of paints on the canvas to create a season. The whole season tells a story, even though each episode has a different vibe. It tells something of our time. It’s an authentic glimpse into our lives,” Lavie says.

Working as female filmmakers in Israel, Lavie says, is similar to elsewhere: “No where in the world has equal opportunities for women. In Israel, film is funded in the same way as in Europe. They are obligated to create diversity so more women get a chance. We do our work. We practice our art without feeling it each day but look at the numbers. It tells the story. Only 4% of directors are female.”

“Sad City Girls” was produced by Yoav Gross Productions. Thanks to Gross, they got through the pandemic. “It was tough on one hand. We were in pre-production right before lockdown. But our producer kept the production going. Our friends were stuck at home. We really appreciated doing our jobs. It saved my mental health,” Reuven says.

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