Sara Mishara Shines a Light on Felix & Meira

The unconventional romance from Oscilloscope Laboratories about a Hasidic Jew and secular loner opens Friday in LA, exquisitely shot by Sara Mishara.

Félix & Meira, last year’s Best Canadian Feature winner at TIFF, written and directed by Maxime Giroux, brings together Meira (Hadas Yaron), a Hasidic Jewish wife and mother, and Félix (Martin Dubreuil), who mourns the recent death of his estranged father. They meet unexpectedly meet in a local bakery in Montreal’s Mile End district. What starts as an innocent friendship becomes more serious as the two wayward strangers find comfort in one another. As Félix introduces Meira to a world outside of her tight-knit Orthodox community, her desire for change becomes harder to ignore, ultimately forcing her to make a difficult choice: Giroux’s film is poignantly set against the backdrops of Montreal, Brooklyn, and Venice, Italy.

Cinematographer Mishara, who’s known Giroux since college, brings the characters from darkness into light using the Alexa. However, she told me that they didn’t want to overdo it by making the Hasidic community seem too remote. “We wanted to portray its own beauty as a way of life and we also didn’t want this to come off as a documentary about leaving the faith,” Mishara explains.

Montreal Hasidic community is even more closed than Brooklyn’s and there was no chance of getting access, so they did the best they could to approximate the look. In fact, for a Jewish wedding scene they needed lots of extras and the director approached men off the street with beards. “It could’ve looked fake but it came off well,” Mishara adds.

One of the standouts is a beautiful Times Square Hotel scene. They couldn’t afford a hotel room so they rented a space with the view they needed for a romantic interlude. Although the filmmakers weren’t sure what they were going to get, they lucked out because the view was perfect. Two floors lower and it would’ve been ruined by the inclusion of billboard whose license fee would’ve been cost prohibitive.

The ferry ride to New York is another highlight. Mishara only had three trips to get it right and there were long takes and 360-degree turns and a ferry full of people they had to contend with. But it’s the perfect kind of real-life moment for a cinematographer to capture.

They also lucked out with the Venice finale. Even though it was winter and they were expecting fog and rain (written into the scrip), they got sunlight for a bittersweet gondola ride.

 

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Cinematography, Movies, Tech, Trailers

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