I was saddened to learn today that actress and film director, Ronit Elkabetz, has passed away. She was an amazingly iconic figure in the Israeli world of cinema. As both an actress and director, she has been a major force, making award-winning films, garnering international acclaim.
Born in 1964 in Beersheba, she worked as an actress of stage and screen, both in Israel and in France. Her most impressive roles as an actress in Israeli films include the demonic Lilith character in The Appointed, the mentally-challenged sister in Sc'chur, the mistress in Late Marriage and her tour-de-force performance as the owner of a cafe in small town Israel in The Band's Visit.
During the last decade, together with her brother, Shlomi Elkabetz, she put her hand to film directing. Together they made a trilogy of films which are critical of the traditional Moroccan Jewish community and its restrictive nature vis-a-vis women. The most recent film of this trilogy is Gett, which is also critical of the rabbinical establishment and how it treats women seeking a divorce.
So often you hear of actors talking about how they had to study in order to prepare themselves for a special role. In the case of Ronit Elkabetz, I remember, years ago, her talking about how each and every role that she played became part of her and helped to form her being. This is a thought that has stayed with me as I think of the importance of the role of the actor in filmmaking, and also the importance of the roles that each actor plays.
Ronit Elkabetz was a strong and dominant woman with an extraordinary personality -- a personality that was formed by so many of the diverse and hard-hitting roles that she played throughout her career. May her memory be a blessing.