Fill the Void

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Lemale et ha’chalal

“An aching portrayal of longing and interdependence that transcends the boundaries of a family's small world.”  — Diana Clarke, Village Voice

Director: Rama Burshtein
Year: 2012
Country: Israel
Running time: 90 mins
Censor Rating: M

Screenplay: Rama Burshtein
Producer: Assaf Amir
Photography: Asaf Sudry
Editor: Sharon Elovic
Production designer: Ori Aminov
Costume designer: Chani Gurewitz
Sound: Aviv Aldema, Moti Hefetz
Music: Yitzhak Azulay
In Hebrew with English subtitles

With: Hadas Yaron (Shira), Yiftach Klein (Yochay), Irit Sheleg (Rivka), Chaim Sharir (Aharon), Razia Israeli (Aunt Hanna), Hila Feldman (Frieda), Renana Raz (Esther), Yael Tal (Shifi), Michael David Weigl (Shtreicher), Ido Samuel (Yossi), Neta Moran (Bilha), Melech Thal (Rabbi) 

Festivals: Venice, Toronto, New York, London 2012; Sundance, San Francisco 2013
Best Actress (Hadas Yaron), Venice Film Festival 2012

Set in Tel Aviv in an Orthodox Hassidic family, this film follows 18-year-old Shira’s search for a husband after her older sister dies in childbirth. Marriage is a central focus in this community and here the concept of ‘a good match’ is especially complicated, with a grief-stricken mother who has more than Shira’s happiness in mind. Watching Shira negotiate the labyrinth of familial pressure, religious precedent, and her own burgeoning sentiment is both painful and beautiful – there are no easy choices to be made and the viewer travels back and forth with Shira as she struggles to take ‘the best path’.

Writer-director Rama Burshtein investigates the complexities of her own community without judgement: instead we must evaluate for ourselves the strengths and challenges of this closed group and its religious and cultural practices. Ultimately we can only sympathise with characters who are caught, as we all are, between their wishes and desires and the very particular world they find themselves in. What does ‘doing what you want’ look like when you are bound tightly in a loving familial context, upon which your happiness depends? — Jo Randerson

“Director Rama Burshtein’s debut is nothing less than astonishing. She’s a card-carrying member of Israel’s Hared community and, with that experience, has crafted a work of moral complexity and visual artistry… A major component of the film’s triumph comes courtesy of Hadas Yaron as the 18-year-old Shira. With minimal means – furtive glances, pursed lips, and all other manner of momentary hesitations – her performance speaks volumes.” — Chris Chang, Film Comment