Archives / 2013 Sundance Film Festival

Fill the Void

Film Still

Director: Rama Burshtein

Screenwriters: Rama Burshtein

Description

Developed at the Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab, Fill the Void captivated audiences at last year’s Jerusalem, Venice, and New York film festivals. And it’s no wonder why. An exquisite debut from director Rama Burshtein, it transports the viewer inside a restrained, yet heightened, hermetically sealed world few would otherwise enter.

Watching Fill the Void is like stepping into a Charlotte Brontë novel set in Tel Aviv’s ultra-Orthodox community. Strict social codes, rabbinical decrees, and subtle signifiers govern the way all members interact—especially men and women.

This is the universe of taciturn, 18-year-old Shira, whose cloistered life takes a dramatic turn when her sister dies suddenly, leaving behind a newborn and a bereaved husband. As the camera gently infiltrates Shira’s family’s hushed quarters, so, too, does it keenly observe her private evolution from innocence to self-awareness as she decides whether to take her sister’s husband as her own. The tension between Shira and her brother-in-law is palpable as their vulnerabilities stir under the surface of an emotional chess game neither is prepared for. Burshtein’s universal story of tortured love—told with enormous specificity, nuance, and depth—is transfixing.

— C. L.

Screening Details

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