A very powerful film in a most spiritual way graced the screen at this year’s 27th Annual Israel Film Festival for its Los Angeles audiences- “Fill the Void,” written and directed by Rama Burshtein. In its 27th year and going strong, filled with films of ‘love, life, and laughter,” the Israel Film Fest presented this beautiful piece, both cinematically and spiritually powerful, about eighteen year old Shira (Hadas Yaron), the youngest daughter of the family, about to be married off to a promising young man of the same age and background; yet circumstances change upon the sudden death of her older sister Esther, and an offer is proposed to match her with Yochay (Yiftach Klein), her late sister’s husband. Shira must choose between her heart’s wish and her family duty.
Director Rama Burshtein studied at the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in Israel, a “major player” in the entertainment scene in Israel, and was inspired to make this movie, filled with beauty, passion, and soul. She told her rabbi that she was passionate about making a film about the religious community; and it is quite fascinating how many films coming out of Israel delve into the world of Hasidism, This film is sure to generate a lot of dialogue, love, and appreciation for this close knit community. One unique aspect of this film is its minimalist style, with many intense close up shots, going way back to the silent film era.
The film can be likened to an “Orthodox Godfather,” of sorts, with the bris scene, using a high shot a la Coppola’s famous church scene.
Perhaps, since it is the product of a woman director and writer, the film is entirely shown from the women’s point of view and perspective, a fresh look at the Orthodox community and culture, primarily male-oriented typically. At a q&a following the film, it was stated, “The gender dimension is a huge factor in the telling of this story and the success of this film overall.”
The beauty of Judaism shines through in this sensitive film, with two of the most important rituals covered, that of ‘to marry and to bury.’ covered, in a poetic, beautiful manner. The acting was impeccable, with the main actor showing a wide range of emotion; prior to this role, Yiftach Klein played a raging murderer. The directing was amazing, with the unspoken tension between the couple developing and unfolding, as the story unfolds onscreen. States Burshtein,”Relationships intrigue me… Passion is usually reserved for only the things you lack- wanting something you don’t have… wanting and restraining…”The film is a journey of Shira’s heart. What attracted Hadas Yaron most to this role was “the beautiful script and story so subtle.” With characters so rich and indelible, it is no miracle that this film will resonate with audiences who are drawn to the cinema- both religious and secular.
Fill The Void will soon be shown in major cities in the states, including Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago