Joseph rebels against the world and God, his instincts raging that “There is no God who can kill my son”! Everything we’ve thought about this biblical story is turned on its head. Joseph attempting the impossible.

Produced by Roland Vranik – Joseph Ltd, and Andrea Taschler – Eclipse Film
Screenplay Iván Szabó, Roland Vranik

JOSEPH’S REBELLION

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT

ROLAND VRANIK

JOSEPH’S REBELLION – is a “high concept” feature-length drama exploring those thirty-four years when Mary and Joseph had to endure a burden like no other in history. To raise the Son of God as their own, to love him, to protect him and live with the knowledge that they would have to let him go to suffer a horrible death. JOSEPH’S REBELLION is a father’s film, following the story from Joseph’s perspective.

The prophecies state that the boy will be killed to redeem humanity. For he is the redeemer, the anointed one that will free humanity of their sins – even Mary keeps trying to convince Joseph of this. The child is of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit – she says. With time, Joseph becomes more and more affectionate to Jesus. Like a foster father who cares for his adopted child more than the biological parents, he becomes a protective father to him. . He also begins to doubt. People consider Jesus an illegitimate child, convinced that Mary was raped by a Roman or simply had a premarital affair. He comes to a place where he doesn’t know what to think nor what to believe. He is desperate and chooses denial.

Joseph, while he dreads his beloved adopted son’s fate, he also questions it . He tries to become the creative force in Jesus’ life. He wishes to mould Jesus into his own image and raise him as a respectable carpenter. But as an intelligent and sensitive man, he also understands many of his son’s ideas, and in his heart, Joseph agrees with him. He is secretly amazed by Jesus’ thinking about equality, peace, goodness, justice and love.

The inherent instincts of a father cannot let these ponderings lead to his son’s death. We follow this heavily burdened father-son relationship through thirty-four years in the story.
What would you do, if you were his father? Joseph panics and becomes overprotective like a flesh-and-blood man. He cannot help it, after growing so close with his son. “I am not giving him away. There is no God who will take him from me”, he cries in fear. “You shall not murder him!” He fails to realize that he sometimes becomes an apostate. He gets into ever deeper conflicts with his environment, his faith, himself and especially with Mary. Despite all this, he initially performs his perceived duties diligently. Together with Mary, he nurtures and protects Jesus.

The film echoes the biblical stories, but above all, it is a human story, without miracles. The perspective is primarily of Joseph the father, as we strip the narrative of nearly all mystical elements and preserve the skeleton of its tragedy – but not without humour. The real people are portrayed with real emotions, real choices and mistakes. We will presentthis ancient story in a more contemporary light, in a unique and radical way, that has not yet been attempted in films about Jesus Christ. To bring this story as close as possible. To witness these lives through more modern visuals, music and dialogue in an authentic period setting. The film will avoid the profane, finding a perspective that we haven’t seen before. I am adapting one of the world’s most well-known mystical tragedies from a realist approach.. A human approach. Imagining the father trying to save his son from his destiny throughout the story, as it becomes more and more evident to him that it will be in vain. But there is no giving in.
Joseph was chosen as the protagonist precisely because he has been historically somewhat sidelined. He has never been deemed too important in the story, never fashionable to portray. He is rather grey and has no special role. Almost forgotten, hence he is perfect for a novel interpretation, differing from the usual and predictable forms of presentation.

JOSEPH’S REBELLION will be a naturalistic film. The narrative will be accompanied by restless handheld camera work, a realistic point of view, with visuals and an atmosphere just like how life might have been back then. Confined, dirty, unpredictable and chaotic. I will try to present the way things worked back then, the daily lives, the micro-environments, the human relationships. Among all this, we will focus on family, and Joseph the father’s role in his incomparable mission. From his perspective, we will show a family as a psychological unit.

Son of Saul is an influence, in its unique approach (almost completely without establishing shots), perfectly and grimly portraying the horrible world of concentration camps. Holocaust movies tend to sink deep in sad and tragic sentimentalism, soundtracked by violin solos, but Son of Saul gained maximum effect with the simplest tools. JOSEPH’S REBELLION will try to create another radical approach to bring our well-known story closer to us and make us live through it all.

Most directors tackling such period movies fail to resist monumental wide shots, presenting authentical surroundings as a canvas, longing to portray those ancient times according to their personal vision, with the production designer and the cinematographer sharing the dream. The results are often freshly shaved, clean-haired actors in smoothly ironed costumes, parading through grandiose scenes, accompanied by an orchestra. These wonderful and well-made movies often show a false world. The end result is a sentimental work with lots of pathos —illustrations of the Bible— even though we could hardly find stories with more initial weight. This film will focus on the emotions there, when living through such stories. It would be more simple, more mundane and a lot more painful than we can imagine. It will be a personal story for Joseph. An intimate drama of Joseph, Mary and Jesus, with their human struggle, vulnerability and fallibility, instead of grand wide shots and all the clichés of historical movies.

Because back then, the world was about carcass pits, famine, stillborn children, tyranny, ignorance, slavery, dark and dangerous nights and much chaos, cruelty towards slaves, children and women, violence, superstition and fear. Often, the birth of a girl meant selling her into slavery, or she was put out to the edge of the village as prey for wild beasts. Everyday life was filled with rotten teeth, the blind, the crippled, the destitute, hunger, thirst. While life might have been lived in such circumstances, all was very different in the rich, Roman cities with modern aqueducts and infrastructure; theatres, social gatherings, games and orgies in buildings with hypocaust-heated floors. The cities of the Roman Empire were colourful and diverse with different languages, religions and races together.

JOSEPH’S REBELLION

CHARACTERS

The portrayal of Jesus often lacks any human characteristic that might truly draw a character. Only pathos. We do not know whether he liked to swim, or if he had a good sense of humour. If someone had annoyed young Jesus, he would never smash a glass bottle in anger. He is always depicted as nice, distant, angel-faced and quite lonely. I want to see him as a real boy, then as a real man, with human traits and as a child, does not know what story he has been born into. When we show him, we will show what is human and vulnerable about him.We will not concentrate on the constantly special and miracle-worker Jesus. He may argue with Joseph about the reasons why there are marine fossils on the mountain. Or they might do mathematics together. He may be interested in social issues and societal matters. In such a way, carefully, almost hidden, would the real messages of the Messiah come into view.
There are generally more words spoken about Mary than Joseph, yet her character also often lacks dimension. Despite how very interesting a woman in her place would react to what happens to her, she is portrayed as rather shy, quiet, and not very inquisitive. She might have had the hardest role in this family and in our thoughts she is mainly a body host. She can seem like someone benevolent who attends his son on the road to his death really having no opinion about it ,not opposing it in the slightest. In our film, Mary is a tough person, bearing the burden she is given, but also going nearly mad by what she must endure, as all flesh-and-blood mothers would.
We don’t really know or think about Joseph at all. He disappears in the Bible. A respectable, good man, believing in everything and accepting his tasks. He accepts the messages of the angels, the pregnant Mary, his new family and the fate he is given. No agency at all. Not like our Joseph. In this story, Joseph is not just a kind carpenter, but also a father who goes against the world for his son. He begins to understand his son’s words but cannot accept that it all leads to Jesus’ death. He rebels. His life is conflicts, contradictions and much love, but in the end, he fails.

JOSEPH’S REBELLION

DIRECTOR

ROLAND VRANIK

Roland Vranik
Roland Vranik burst into the film world with his first feature, the satirical “Fekete Kefe” (Black Brush). It was the first time in the history of the Hungarian Film Week that a director took the grand prize with his first feature. The film won for Best Cinematography, Best Director and Best Producer, collecting 7 awards by the end of the national competition. It premiered in the United States, and in nearly every country of Europe, as well as a number of other countries abroad, where it garnered more awards in well-known festivals. His second work, Adás (Transmission) went on to collect more international festival prizes and was nominated for Best European Sci-Fi.

He achieved his most serious acclaim for his third film. “Állampolgár” (Citizen). This work collected 20 awards at nearly 45 international festivals. It won awards in Tokyo, Buenos Aires. Toronto, Chicago and Los Angeles and more. Its US premier took place in the iconic Metrograph cinema in Manhattan, NY.

The Hollywood Reporter

“It’s a deeply moving examination of the current white-hot social issue of immigration, depicting the travails of an African refugee desperately trying to attain Hungarian citizenship.”

Los Angeles Times

“The film, directed by Roland Vranik (script by Vranik and Iván Szabó), turns increasingly tough and unsettling, offering no easy answers as it poignantly, and all-too-credibly explores desperation, bigotry and our need to love and belong.”

The New York Times

“The film, directed by Roland Vranik from a script by Mr. Vranik and Ivan Szabo, is a careful, compassionate and beautifully acted character drama with a social conscience.”

The Village Voice

““The Citizen” Is a Devastatingly Good Drama About Refugees and Immigration.”

JOSEPH’S REBELLION

SYNOPSIS

by Roland Vranik and Iván Szabó

JOSEPH’S REBELLION tells the most prominent story of the Judeo-Christian world from an entirely new perspective. The film will attempt to demystify the ancient tale of the Holy Family, guiding us through the upbringing of Jesus until his tragic death from the point of view of flesh-and-blood characters – especially the always neglected (step)father character, Joseph. This epic feature film will merge with the canonical stories at its focal points, but will mostly deal more closely with all those human questions that might arise when thinking about the tale of Jesus’ life…

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We are happy to share the full information about the production: full sysnopsis, shooting plans, deadlines, details, locations, cast, crew, etc. Also, we are happy to talk about co-production opportunities and sponsoring.

JOSEPH’S REBELLION

PRODUCTION

MOROCCO, HUNGARY

The screenwriting of JOSEPH’S REBELLION started in 2020 with the support of the National Film Institute. 4 versions were produced, and in 2021 we were awarded a pre-production grant of 100 000 USD from the National Film Institute.

The main filming location for the film is Morocco, where ECLIPSE FILMS is coordinating the filming as co-producer and service company, which is scheduled to last 50 days. ORIGO Film Studios, as main sponsor, will provide the interior locations to be shot in Hungary.

Preparation work started in the summer of 2021, which included colour mapping, casting, visuals and moodboards for the Moroccan location. The budget for the film is 4 800 000 USD. The shooting is planned to start at the end of 2023.

Joseph's rebellion - Morocco site