First-time feature film director Evgeny Ruman merrily ignored an old showbiz adage - "never work with animals or children" - when he made Igor & The Cranes' Journey.
The 2012 family drama, which will be screened here as part of the 21st Israel Film Festival next week, stars first-time child actor Itai Shcherback, 11, and features many shots of cranes in the wild. Ruman, 34, tells Life! over the telephone from his home in Tel Aviv that many people thought he was "crazy" for taking such a risk, especially for a debut feature.
He says with a chuckle: "People were wondering why I would want to do this. They kept asking me, 'Are you sure about this?'" He insisted on making the movie as it was a story that he really connected with emotionally, he adds.
The US$1-million (S$1.2-million) film adaptation of Aki Shavit's children's book of the same name is a migration story that mirrors his own life experience.
The film is about a boy named Igor who moves from Russia to Israel where he faces difficulties as he does not speak the local language. He finds solace in charting the migratory patterns of cranes that fly from Eastern Europe to Africa.
Ruman, born in Belarus, was also part of the migration experience when he moved to Israel at the age of 11.
He says: "I really had a connection with this story and I felt that was really important for a first feature. When I first moved to Israel, I also faced the same problems as the boy Igor. "I didn't speak Hebrew and there will be cultural differences, so I definitely felt like I could relate to this story on a personal level."
Igor & The Cranes' Journey is the opening film of the week-long film festival which will be held at The Cathay Cineplex. Other films include We Are Not Alone (2011), a drama about a lonesome security guard who makes an unlikely friend in a rebellious woman, and Fill The Void (2012), a drama about a young woman on the cusp of marriage who has to choose between living up to family expectations and following her own heart.