The brother-and-sister filmmaking team talk about their drama set against the complicated divorce system in Israel.
Israeli brother and sister film-making duo Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz have written, directed and produced Gett: The Trial Of Viviane Amsalem — the third film in their trilogy following To Take A Wife (2004) and Seven Days (2008) — which had its premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival in Directors’ Fortnight.
“To Take A Wife explored a woman’s internal dialogue, in Seven Days she is in the middle of her family and society, and in the new film we put this woman in front of the state and the law,” says Shlomi of the trilogy, which was conceived by the brother and sister in New York in 2004. “It’s a unique point for us, finishing this film and also closing the circle with our heroine, Viviane, who we’ve dealt with for the last 10 years,” adds Shlomi, who also directed 2011’s Testimonies.
Gett centres around the divorce system in Israel, which only allows a woman to divorce if her husband agrees to it. “Every day I was in shock working on this. It’s difficult to understand, in the democratic way we live in Israel, that this is still the law,” says Ronit, who also stars as the lead in all three films.
“I hope it will evoke a serious conversation and of course we will be acting on it when the film is out in Israel. It will put it into people’s awareness,” adds Shlomi.
Funded partly by the Israeli Film Fund, the project was produced through Shlomi’s Israel-based DBG Films, which he set up in 2010. “For me, producing is an adventure; it was really interesting to understand that part of the film and I enjoyed it,” he says.
The brother and sister are no strangers to Jerusalem Film Festival, as Seven Days won the best feature award in 2008. Now the pair are working on a new project that is at the script stage. “It was always our dream to work together. We cast together, we rehearse together; 99% of our choices we see eye to eye,” says Shlomi.