Bold, comedic, and packed full of cultural references, Kiss Me Before It Blows Up (also known as Kiss Me Kosher), is writer-director Shirel Peleg’s debut feature-length film. Well received by audiences around the world, including tickets being sold out at BFI Flare 2021, this film has undoubtedly succeeded in appealing to viewers across generations, cultural divides, and languages. With such a rich and eclectic myriad of characters and clashing opinions on show, the entertainment value and writing prowess is there for all to see.
Shirel Peleg was born in 1985 in Venezuela and raised in Israel. She graduated in 2010 with a BFA in film and television from the Sapir College and immigrated with her partner to Germany in 2012 where she enrolled at the screenwriting program at renowned Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. Now having produced, written, and directed a variety of short films, her first feature film, Kiss Me Before It Blows Up is just the tip of the iceberg and a sure-fire sign that more great things are to come from this talented filmmaker.
Q & A with Writer-Director Shirel Peleg
Q: How long did it take for you to write this script and get the film made?
About 5 years from the time I met the wonderful Christine Günther who actually got the project produced and about 5 years of carrying the idea with me and writing it and keeping it in the drawer.
Q: How much of the story is based on true events?
The setting and the characters are inspired by true events and people I love dearly.
Q: What were the most challenging scenes to shoot?
Everything we shot in the streets of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a special city one cannot explain in just a few words. The air flows differently in this city. It’s the most beautiful city and at the same time there’s this kind of tension in the air I personally have a hard time dealing with. The family scenes were also extremely challenging due to the number of speaking characters and the length of the scenes. But I guess the most complex of them all was the wedding/brawl at the end of the film. The entire cast was there, lots of extras, two cameras and everything had to happen in one day.
Q: With the benefit of hindsight, is there anything you might do differently if you could?
During the process of prepping and shooting the film I remember finishing every day with the feeling of having learned so much. It’s a continuous process of bettering one’s skills. What I mainly learned is that this process is one that if you’re lucky, will never come to an end. So yet, there are many things I would have done differently. At the same time, I’m also extremely proud of the way we had this film made and the finished product and love it just the way it is!
Q: This film taught me so much about Israeli Jewish history and culture, how much of that was intentionally incorporated into the script and the film?
I’m happy to hear you could take some new information from the film. I actually didn’t set to “teach” anyone anything. I wanted to be as authentic and as true to my own perspective as a lesbian, Israeli and Jew and hoped that by doing so I’d create a world one could understand and relate to, even if they have nothing in common with this specific setting.
Q: Would you describe your wife as the “Holy Trinity: lesbian, gentile, German”?
I don’t have to. My parents did it for me 😊
Q: For someone who has said that “lesbian is their religion” how difficult was it to write that “Lesbian sounds like a disease”?
I am fortunate to be surrounded by people who don’t see me or consider my condition (wink, wink) as a disease. I try to use my very privileged position to shed light on the fact that these kinds of prejudice unfortunately still resides amongst us.
Q: A lot of fans of lesbian film have noticed that there seems to be a trend of films featuring lesbian couples on beaches and your film also shot 2 scenes of the couple on the beach; did you have this common theme in mind or was this a coincidence?
Q: Food seems to take an important role in this film; where eating more Schnitzel and bringing cookies can be a sign of love and respect. Does this happen in your real life?
Oh yes. The way to my heart is definitely through my stomach.
Q: What is “Friday Foreplay”?
Friday Foreplay is the term I found to describe the ritual of bickering around the shabbat dinner table.
Q: What would you like audiences to take away from the film?
I tried to use screwball comedy as a way to bring up to the surface topics usually considered taboo. The magic of comedy is that it allows us to come closer to sensitive topics we usually tend to approach with great sensitivity, and at times, keep away from as means of caution or even respect. If there’s one thing I wish my audiences to take from this film is that as long as we listen and talk to one another, even the greatest opposites can find a way to cohabit.
Q: Are there other “taboo” topics you would like to highlight in your future stories?
You bet! Taboos are dangerous to our society. Everything should be debatable.
Q: Do you have a favourite genre of film to make; is comedy your favourite?
I can’t resist a good comedy but I’m also very keen to try my luck with different genres.
Q: What are you working on now and how can people get involved and support your work?
I’m currently in prep for my next film which is a 90-minute episode of the iconic German show Tatort (German for crime scene). I’m also developing another series and feature film. You can support me by watching the film as part of BFI Flare and sharing it with as many friends as possible across the UK.
KISS ME BEFORE IT BLOWS UP is screening as part of BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival, available UK-wide until 28 March 2021 www.bfi.org.uk/flare
This article was written by:
Writer, Reviewer, Social
Ping believes in the power of love and kindness, and that "love is love" no matter what shape or form it comes in. She would like to see positive representation for all walks of life in film and media.