The world premiere of Drew Estate cofounder Marvin Samel’s heartwarming, cigar themed film took center stage on opening night of the Miami Jewish Film Festival to a packed house of over 650 film lovers. Samel started inadvertently writing the movie during a difficult time in his life as his mother Fela, played brilliantly by Carol Kane (Taxi, The Princess Bride, Scrooged) had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. “My wife had just given birth to twins, it should have been the happiest time in my life, but I was actually depressed,” said Samel over a phone interview with Cigar Snob. “I started writing these vignettes of my family; like the time that my dad pretended to have a twin brother. I remembered the time I took him to the Apple Store at Aventura Mall to get him an iPhone.” The memories of that time would eventually become the foundation for iMordecai, which he ended up directing. “The plan was not to have me direct, I’d never been on a film set!” Marvin went on to explain why the decision was made, “My producers were experienced filmmakers, they were searching for the right director and in the end they chose me because they felt that if I didn’t direct it, I would have lost control of my family’s story.”
The film stars Judd Hirsch (Taxi, A Beautiful Mind, Independence Day, Ordinary People) as holocaust survivor Mordecai Samel, Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings, The Goonies, Stranger Things) as Mordecai’s son Marvin Samel, and the aforementioned Carol Kane as Fela Samel. In only her second appearance on the bigscreen, Azia Dinea Hale (F9:The Fast Saga) plays the role of Nina, who is hired by Samel to train Mordecai on how to use his new iPhone, which much to his chagrin, “has no buttons.” Cigars and cigar personalities feature heavily in the film, in one particular scene Marvin’s character shows off the blend to a group of his colleagues and competitors made up of the real Marvin Samel, Erik Espinosa (Espinosa Cigars), Abe Dababneh (Smoke Inn), Jeff Borysiewicz (Corona Cigar), Ryan Leeds (Empire Social), and Christian Eiroa (CLE).
The uplifting comedy premiered at the Miami Jewish Film Festival. As of this writing, no additional showings or distribution deals have been announced. Follow the @imordecaimovie Instagram account for updates and future showings.