January 23, 2012 · Success Stories

Exclusive Interview with Yoav Shamir of 10% & Modern Day Heroes


Yoav Shamir

An award-winning director and producer known for tackling taboo political and social issues, Yoav Shamir is currently raising money for "10%", his latest documentary exploring contemporary notions of what a hero really is. Past films including Defamation, Checkpoint, 5 Days and Flipping Out, all won recognition and awards at the Sundance Film Festival, Berlin, IDFA, Hot Docs and Tribeca, positioning him as a credible and respected storyteller.  Because of this reputation, he recently attracted the interest of legendary filmmaker Michael Moore, who is willing to provide matching funds; "I was thrilled to hear about Shamir's new film and will do everything I can to see that he gets it made. This is an urgent film, someone needed to make it, and I can't think of anyone better than Yoav Shamir. Yoav Shamir is that rare documentary filmmaker who is fearless and willing to show us the uncomfortable truths about the world we live in".  His film takes him as far afield as the Congo, Slovenia, from San Francisco to New York, South Africa, Israel and Palestine and we're confident, all the way to the next slew of film festivals. 

We talked to Yoav to find out more about 10% and his experiences towards reaching his goal:

Yoav Film
Q1. Why were you compelled to write a documentary about contemporary heros?

 I come from Israel, a country going through a rough time – there is intolerance, racism and many new laws which discriminate Palestinians. We dont care about the "Other", they have no face – they are our enemy. I see the Israeli public cooperating with what is going on. Most people care more about what is happening in "the Voice", or "Big Brother" than in their back yard, slipping into a comfortable place. But some people stand up and fight for what is just. Instead of hating the "Other", they are reaching out for him or her. They are willing to risk their life, freedom and social status in order to do it. These type of people are Heroes – someone who is willing to pay a personal toll in order to help the "Enemy".

My grandfather was saved in the Holocaust because there were good people who were willing to pay a personal toll in order to see this 15 year old Jewish boy live.
In this documentary I want to explore these kinds of heroes to see if there are common patterns, even a psychological blueprint which these heroes share.

DefamationQ2. Michael Moore recently joined your production as Executive Producer. How did this relationship come about and what does it mean for the film?

Michael Moore really liked my previous film "Defamation", and gave it an award in Traverse City Film Festival. As part of our IndieGoGo campaign I reached out to every one I was in contact with in the last couple of years. Michael was very responsive and wrote back that he would like to help. We started talking and he decided to join as an Executive Producer, generously offering to match every dollar contributed till we reach our goal. I hope that once the film is made his involvement will help to boost the film, helping us to reach a wider audience.

Q3. What has been your biggest surprise about crowdfunding?

People are actually willing to help someone they do not personally know! I am deeply move when I read the comments people write and their willingness to help me make this film.

Q4. From your perspective how has this fundraising experience contributed to your role as a filmmaker? 

It is a humbling experience – asking people for money is not easy. But one thing I learned from making "10%" is that in order to get help, you need to ask for it.  This sounds very trivial, but many people in need do not express their distress. Being humble is important for everyone and even more so for film makers. Campaigning has also started a dialogue which enriches the way I grasp the film. It is a painful experience but with pain comes growth…

Q5. Who has been a hero to you during your time as a filmmaker and story teller?

There are so many people who I am influenced by; filmmakers, writers, artists, and especially people I have filmed. We documentarians rely on real people and I have filmed some incredible storytellers along the way.  Some did not say a word – I am just channeling these stories to the screen.  But if I have to state one influential figure, it will have to be Michael Moore who broadened my scope and ambitions as a film maker.  I remember the first time I saw "Roger and Me", thinking to my self, this is unlike anything I have seen before! There is a poetic beauty in that the film maker who inspired me as young man is the one who is helping me make this film.  Want to see a sneak peak of the film?

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