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Sisters On Screen

Israeli families have more children than other Jewish families, which means that there’s a greater likelihood of same-sex siblings. Maybe this explains the preponderance of sisters in the 22nd Israel Film Festival that showed to often sold-out audiences in Los Angeles, Miami and New York this year. Or maybe it’s that there are a lot of gifted female filmmakers on the scene. In any case, the closeness of sisters, and all the things they say and cannot say to each other, make for great drama, and humor too:

In “Noodle,” directed by Ayelet Menahemi, actress Mili Avital plays a 37-year-old stewardess, twice widowed by soldier husbands, who suddenly finds herself caring for a young Chinese boy, the son of her migrant-worker house-cleaner who has been deported. Along with her mission to do her best for this boy, she tries to push her determined-to-get-divorced sister and brother-in-law to get counseling to keep their frail marriage together.

“Aviva My Love,” directed by (male director) Shemi Zarhin, focuses on a mother with a talent for writing, surrounded by a demanding family: a mentally ill mother, unemployed husband, challenging children. The writer’s sister struggles with infertility and whether to stay with her husband, while freely dispensing advice and interventions of all kinds, including sending her ambitious sister’s writing off to a professor without her permission.

“Three Mothers” tells a saga of 60 years, the lifetime of triplets born in Egypt: how they moved to Israeli, grew up, and shared love, heartbreak, hostility—and children too. This first feature film written and directed by Iraqi-born Dina Tzvi Riklis was, she said, inspired by the relationships between her mother and her aunts. The casting of multi-generations of the triplets posed special challenges. Israeli superstar actress Gila Almagor played the diva sister in older age.