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Shiva for Film Force Ronit Elkabetz

Ronit Elkabetz, Israeli film star, writer and director in her last film, “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem.”

Ronit Elkabetz, Israeli film star, writer and director in her last film, “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem.”

Ronit Elkabetz is gone.

The Israeli film star, writer and director is dead at 51, from cancer that she concealed till the end. Following her death on April 19, her body lay in state at the Tel Aviv Cinamatheque, showcase for independent and controversial film. 

In what turned out to be her final film, just last year Americans saw Elkabetz as the long-suffering wife in “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem.” The grinding depiction of a woman’s years’ long struggle against her unyielding husband and an Israeli religious court to grant her a gett, a writ of divorce, was the final film in the trilogy starring Elkabetz as Viviane Amsalem. Loosely based on the unhappy marriage of her Moroccan-born parents, Elkabetz co-wrote and co-directed the trilogy with her brother Shlomi, starting with “To Take a Wife” in 2004, then “Shiva” in 2008. The sister-brother collaboration was intense. As she described writing “Gett,” they’d hole up in a hotel room, cut off from the world, and create the film. On the set, they were in total sync. 

“Gett,” Israel’s 2015 Oscar entry for best foreign-language film, ignited major protests in Israel, where civil marriage and divorce do not exist.

As Elkabetz told the Israeli newspaper Maariv back in 2010, “I am not here to get pleasure from acting. As much as it may sound bombastic, I would like to make a change.”