Israel/Germany (2017) 1hr 53mins minutes.
Directors/writers: Ofir Raul Graizer
Cast: Tim Kalkhof (Thomas), Sarah Adler (Anat), Roy Miller (Oren), Zohar Strauss (Moti)
Screening 8 September 2021 at Swindon Arts Centre
Thomas, a young German baker, is having an affair with Oren, an Israeli married man who has frequent business visits in Berlin. When Oren dies in a car crash in Israel, Thomas travels to Jerusalem seeking answers about his death. Whilst keeping his secret for himself, he starts working for Anat, his lover's widow, who owns a small café. His delicious cakes soon turn her place into a city attraction.
The Cakemaker is Ofir Raul Graizer’s debut feature, and the film must somehow reflect the parabola of the Israeli-born director's life. It’s set between Berlin and Jerusalem, the two cities apparently closest to him, and one of its main subjects – alongside weightier themes such as grief and loss – is food, especially the rich experience of cooking. (Graizer’s biography records how he studied film, as well as – a phrase you don't expect to find in such contexts – “trained in kitchens as a cook and will soon publish his own Middle Eastern cookbook”.)
The result is independent cinema at its economical best, something that brings together, just as a recipe does, simple ingredients into a piece of lasting – and commendably understated – emotional power.
The Arts Desk
Drool-worthy confectionery expresses unspoken emotions in The Cakemaker, the first feature from the writer and director Ofir Raul Graizer and a master class in exquisite restraint.
Beginning as one thing and ending as quite another, this softly lighted melodrama follows Thomas, a reserved German pastry chef with a cozy cafe in Berlin and a handsome Israeli lover, Oren. Once a month or so, Oren arrives in Berlin for business — and a generous slice of Black Forest gâteau — leaving a wife, Anat, and young son back in Jerusalem.
When Oren dies suddenly between visits, Thomas, obeying some primal instinct and with no clear purpose, immediately travels to Jerusalem. Concealing his identity, he takes a part-time job in the small cafe run by Oren’s weary young widow, so impressing her and her customers with his piping skills that he soon becomes a fixture.
Sad and sweet, and with a rare lyricism, at heart it’s just a tender love triangle with a ghost in the middle. And a mouthwatering abundance of crème fraîche.
The New York Times
- The film received the 2018 Ophir Award for best picture, and was selected as the Israeli entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards.
- The film has been noted for its exploration of the topic of sexual fluidity.
- Financing of The Cakemaker took 6 years.