By Janice Convoy-Hellmann
Regardless of whether you were lucky enough to have seen the 2014 Israeli-French drama “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem,” which starred Ronit Elkabetz and was written and directed by her and her brother, Shlomi, the documentary “Once Upon a Time … Gett: The Last Interview of Ronit Elkabetz” is worth seeing.
It explores the impetus for the Elkabetz siblings to make “Gett” and the trilogy it completed (first was “To Take a Wife,” and second was “Seven Days”).
The documentary, which uses excerpts from “Gett” itself, along with interviews with the Elkabetz siblings, the actors from “Gett” and film historians, enlightens the viewer not only about the making of the 2014 film, but also about the clash of tradition and modernity, as well as civil and religious law, in Israel.
The Hebrew word gett means divorce, and this documentary also sheds light on how marriage and divorce, which are governed by the Orthodox rabbinate in Israel, affect Israeli society in general and Israeli women in particular.
Elkabetz is considered to be one of the great luminaries of Israeli film, but sadly she lost her battle with cancer in April. Given that this documentary was completed only weeks before her death, it contains some of the last footage of her discussing her exceptional craft.
At her funeral, Shimon Peres called Elkabetz “an extraordinary cultural ambassador for the state of Israel,” adding that “on the various stages of the world, Ronit represented the citizens of Israel and the state of Israel with great pride, creativity and beauty.”
This documentary, a personal glimpse into Elkabetz’s process during and after the making of “Gett,” is a tribute to an Israeli film icon that should not be missed.