A near-capacity crowd filled the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus Nov. 5 for the screening of “The Other Story” and post-screening discussion with Dr. Noam Shpancer as part of the Columbus Jewish Film Festival.
Shpancer, an Israeli native and writer, has written three novels in Hebrew and has called Columbus home since 1999. He is a professor of psychology at Otterbein University in Westerville and co-wrote the screenplay for “The Other Story” with Israeli film director Avi Nesher. It was the most successful Israeli film in 2018.
In 2009, Shpancer’s novel, “The Good Psychologist,” was published and became a bestseller in Israel, and Nesher read it the following year.
The Columbus Jewish News spoke to Shpancer about how his partnership with Nesher came to be.
“He liked (my book),” Shpancer said. “(Nesher) wanted to make a movie about a psychologist in Jerusalem, so we started with that idea.”
The pair began writing in earnest in 2012 and continued, off and on, until the manuscript was completed in 2018. Shpancer said there was a lot of “going back and forth in writing scenes.”
Shpancer said working with Nesher, one of Israel’s most popular and successful directors, was “super fun. Avi is a brilliant guy and a great director.”
While two of the movie’s main characters, a father and son, work in the mental health profession, Shpancer said the film and his novel, “The Good Psychologist,” are unrelated, other than psychologists playing a role. He did concede that when penning the screenplay, he and Nesher “drew from our own lives,” he said.
Shpancer said he “feels great” that his film was chosen for a screening at the film festival in Columbus.
“For a movie to make it into theaters and find an international audience is rare. And for your movie to play in your town in front of ‘your people’ – that’s quite the stuff of fantasy,” he said. “I’m old enough to appreciate fully how unique and unlikely this whole thing is. So, I savor it. Writing this movie was one of those rare life experiences that have no downside. Everything about it was interesting, surprising and fun.”
Longtime Bexley residents Susan and Jerry Winer have watched countless movies at the CJFF over the years.
Susan Winer said she came to the screening of “The Other Story” to support the festival.
“It’s a great way to socialize and educate ourselves about issues of import to Israeli life,” she said.
Jerry Winer said he was looking forward to the Q&A session with Shpancer after the film.
“The movie deals with contemporary, significant social issues, so we decided to see it for ourselves,” he said.
The Columbus Jewish Film Festival runs through Nov. 17. For more information, visit www.cjfilmfest.org.
Tami Kamin Meyer writes for the Columbus Jewish News from Bexley.