GETT, the Hebrew word for a bill of divorce, is the third film in a trilogy made by brother-and-sister filmmakers Shlomi and Ronit Elkabetz. The theme, as Shlomi explained to me on October 6, 2014, is freedom, specifically women’s freedom in the modern world. Inspired by their mother’s life, it’s a contemplation on the nature of freedom itself, as well as a consideration of what it’s like to be an Arab Jew in Israel.
We went on to talk about the nuance of interpreting religious law, the reforms the film is inspiring, why character names changed from the last two films, the perils of casting family members, the advantage of having all the action take place in the courthouse, and how the right close-up can reveal the entire life of a character and of an actress.
GETT explores what happens when ancient law clashes with modern sensibilities when an marriage ends. The trial in question is that of divorce for the title character, who, as the film begins, has been living apart from her husband, Elisha, for three years. She desperately wants her freedom from a man who has made her miserable, but this being Israel, she cannot obtain it without his consent, which he refuses to give. The trial drags on for years, as Elisha flouts the court’s authority, the three judges involved parse everything except Viviane’s feelings, and the parade of witnesses range from the tragic to the absurd. The film stars Ronit Elkabetz, Simon Abkarian, Menashe Noy, and Sasson Gabai. Shlomi co-directed from a script he co-wrote with his sister, Ronit. Their previous work includes TO TAKE A WIFE and SHIVA, and on his own, TESTIMONY. He is the Artistic Director of Studio South, the Production Lab of the Cinema South Film Festival, and he has taught cinema for over a decade at Sapil College and The Minshar Academy.