Venice Film Festival Features Work by Hasidic, Female Director
Israeli film director Rama Burshtein with “unidentified guest” (her husband). Reuters.
VENICE, Italy — Israeli director Rama Burshtein provides an intimate look inside the private world of Tel Aviv’s Hasidic community in the film ‘Fill the Void,’ which premiered this weekend in competition at the Venice Film Festival.
A Hasidic Jew herself, Burshtein said she wanted to create a portrait of family life within the community without presenting it in conflict with the secular world.
‘The Orthodox world is so interesting it does not need to cope with the secular,’ Burshtein told a news conference Sunday. ‘It can be very interesting and the drama can be very strong inside.’
The film is about an 18-year-old girl named Shira who struggles with whether she wants to marry her brother-in-law, Yochay, after her sister Esther dies giving birth. The decision is all Shira’s, despite the strict formality within the community, and the movie ultimately is a story about facing a difficult decision and becoming a woman.
‘It’s all about emotions and choices and what leads you to do what you do,’ said actress Hadas Yaron, who played Shira. ‘I’m also young. But Shira is different from me because she is not familiar with all these feelings she experiences for the first time.’
The movie shows intimate rituals of the Hasidic community, from Esther’s funeral to her infant son’s circumcision ceremony immediately after, Sabbath dinner and the workings of the matchmaker, who helps broker marriages as girls reach Shira’s age.