Israeli filmmaker Tomer Heymann gesticulates wildly talking about Ohad Naharin, a much-awarded choreographer, the artistic director of the Tel Aviv based Batsheva Dance Company. In town in early January with his exceptional, evocative documentary, Mr. Gaga: A True Story of Love and Dance, a highlight of this year’s Jewish Film Festival, Heymann exudes, “Ohad is an amazing character, perfect for a movie. I met him 25 years ago when I was a waiter; here was a sexy man with a beautiful Japanese woman, his wife, dancer Mari Kajiwara, a very unusual couple. They gave me a big tip.”
“I knew a “hora;” said the filmmaker who made Mr. Gaga with his producer and brother, Barak, “that’s what I knew of dance. When I was offered a free ticket to “Kyr,” a Batsheva Dance Company performance, it changed my life forever.” Eight years in the making, Mr. Gaga will premiere this week at Film Forum and the Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in tandem with Ohad Naharin’s Batsheva Dance Company’s premiere of “Last Work” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Just prior to these openings, I had a chance to speak to Ohad Naharin, indeed handsome, with a quick and ironic wit, about the film, the birth of Gaga, Natalie Portman, and the vagaries of politics and art.