19th Titanic Filmfestival

Festival Films Programs Press News

Sex therapy

During the Q&A yesterday, Tali Shalom Ezer, director of the Israeli film Surrogate talked about, among others, the true origins of the sexual therapy in the film and its controversial methods.



Surrogate was originally the director’s diploma work, but with some support it became a one-hour long feature film for theatrical distribution, and was screened for several months in the Israeli art movies. The film focuses on a method elaborated in the 70’s-80’s in the States but is also popular in Israel. In the course of the treatment the qualified therapists, the “surrogates”, help their patients go through a spiritual and sexual healing process. According to the director the method is also used by the Israeli army: today it is a common procedure, although its social judgment is rather ambivalent: many think that it is morally inacceptable.

As an answer to the spectators’ question, whether the sexual tension seen on the screen existed between the two actors, Amir Wolf and Lana Ettinger, in real life too, Tali replied: “During the first shooting I specified that the two main characters cannot have a sexual relationship outside the shooting. I wanted to see everything that happens between them!” However, the shooting had to be postponed three months later for financial reasons, and when the two actors arrived after the break their first sentence was “Tali, we are a couple now”. So during the job, they were in a love relationship which curiously ended as soon as the shooting was over.

Tali made a thorough research work in the development phase; the story was based on the experiences of the qualified therapists and supervisors of a clinic. The process starts out much like a blind date, and implies about 15 occasions spent together.  The therapy is successful in most cases, “but of course this also depends on what we consider as success”, added the director. She also said that according to the therapists’ experiences, in the majority of the cases there develop strong feelings between the patient and the therapist, but they must break all contact after the treatment. So the procedure itself is quite ambiguous: while real, deep feelings come to life between two people, the patient is still a buyer paying for the emotional surrogate, getting service for his money. According to Tali, most therapists are still quite committed to the method and strongly believe in it.

The director is at present preparing her second feature of standard length this time, the shooting is due to be finished by the end of the year.


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