'Tatami,' a film inspired by Iran's Israeli athlete boycott, is making movie history


September 22, 2023

John Phillips/Getty Images

The cast and crew of "Tatami" at the 80th Venice International Film Festival, Sep. 2, 2023. From left: Sharon Harel, Ash Goldeh, Elham Erfani, Guy Nattiv, Zar Amir Ebrahimi, Mandy Tagger Brockey, Jaime Ray Newman, Adi Ezroni and Maya Amsellem.

(JTA) - A film being billed as the first co-production by Israeli and Iranian filmmakers debuted at the Venice International Film Festival after a secretive production process that included a trip to Israel by the Iranian co-director.

"Tatami," which received a standing ovation at the prestigious film competition, tells the story of a female Iranian judoka champion who is ordered to fake an injury to avoid facing an Israeli opponent at a judo championship.

The story is loosely based on the 2019 incident in which Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei was ordered to throw matches at the World Judo Champi...

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