Shoshana: On the red carpet with Michael Winterbottom, Aury Alby, Gina Bramhill and Oliver Chris at London Film Festival 2023
15 years in the making, Shoshana from director Michael Winterbottom is a film that captures a complex and violent moment during the 1930s when British authorities tried to ease surging tensions between Arabs and Jews in Tel Aviv. Based on true events from that period with documentary footage that adds its own gravitas to the feature, the story deals with radical Zionist military groups that caused a surge of uprisings within the political landscape of the country and an escalation of violent outbreaks.
Using Italy as a backdrop for the beautiful city of Tel Aviv, the narrative follows two British officers – Thomas Wilkin (Douglas Booth) and Geoffrey Morton (Harry Melling) – as they begin the hunt for Zionist freedom fighter Avraham Stern (Aury Alby). The story not only shows brutal acts of violence between the groups as explosions, torture and executions play out on screen, but Winterbottom also underpins this political tale with an unearthed love story between Wilkin and a notable political activist called Shoshana (Irina Starshenbaum).
The Upcoming had the pleasure of speaking to the cast and the director on the red carpet at the London Film Festival 2023 about the making of this film, what drew the cast to their roles and how Winterbottom chose his central leads to help unravel this narrative on screen.
We spoke to Alby about his role as a Zionist freedom fighter Avraham Stern for the Paramilitary organisation Irgun, how he prepared for that using the mass of historical documents that were intact and available to him, and how he also connected with the living son of Sternfor to deliver an authentic portrayal of his character.
Gina Bramhill spoke to us about her role as Alice Morton, an outsider to this political undercurrent, how she prepared to take on this role and what it was like to work with such a brilliant and visionary director who brought this story to screen.
We chatted to Oliver Chris about his part in the film’s narrative, working with a brilliant ensemble cast and director and filming out in Italy. He also spoke about the timely release of the feature and some of the key themes that viewers could take away.
Winterbottom spoke about bringing the film to screen over the course of 15 years, the research behind the piece and the resources made available to tether the fictional drama with the factual events of that era. He also chatted about the casting process for his two leads and what it meant to have them on board.
Shoshana does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2023 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Shoshana here: