When Eytan Fox was an Israeli teenager, he went to Germany as part of a folk dancing troupe. He and his friends were all anxious about visiting the country that looms so ominously over Jewish history.
"We really expected a fight or a confrontation to happen," he says. "But we met these wonderful people -- they were these nice, sweet young people."
Similar discoveries are made in Fox's newest film Walk on Water, a hit thriller in his homeland that's now making the rounds in the U.S., where his previous film, Yossi and Jagger played to acclaim with gay and straight audiences alike.
Walk on Water follows a Mossad agent, Eyal, assigned to befriend the adult German grandchildren, Axel and Pia, of a Nazi war criminal. Eyal's goal is to determine if the grandfather is still alive and, if so, kill him. Axel, who turns out to be gay, plays an enlightening and surprising role in Eyal's mission.
"Axel is there to help Eyal find a new path to...realize you can be a man and still express emotions," Fox says. "There are different ways of being a man. You can be gay and be a very tough man for that matter."
As a gay Israeli, exploring different masculinities is an important topic for the 40-year-old Fox. The country's culture, he says, is built on the post-Holocaust ideal of "a new kind of Jew," who is always protecting and surviving, "people who grew up with war being the only way they know how to live."
"It's really about deciding that change is necessary, that we have to stop this cycle of killing," he says of Eyal's journey. "We have to deal with this fear of each other, this hatred of each other."
Walk on Water opens this Friday, April 1, at Landmark's E Street Cinema, E and 11th Streets NW. Call 202-333-FILM or visit www.landmarktheatres.com.