Scheming Women Steal the Scene

A number of recent Israeli films have revitalized the local industry by focusing on strong female characters. Following "Aviva, My Love," directed by Shemi Zarhin, and "Three Mothers," directed by Dina Zvi-Riklis, Jacob (Yankol) Goldwasser's "Ein La Elohim" is slated to open in theaters today.

As in "Aviva, My Love," Goldwasser, who also directed "Over the Ocean" and "Big Shots," places ordinary women, who live outside the center of the country and who cope with mind-numbing routine and financial troubles, at the center of his film. While Zarhin's Aviva relied on writing talent to rescue herself and her sister from their banal life in Tiberias, Goldwasser provides his three female leads with an opportunity to prove their resourcefulness and improve their lives through the failed scheme of a pair of highly ineffectual men.

Malka Ohion (Dorit Bar-Or) is a seamstress who leads workers in Mitzpe Ramon in a battle against management and the threat of a lay-off. Meanwhile, her sister (Yael Poliakov), a teller in a local bank, falls in love with a security guard (Yuval Segev), who works for a cash transport company and takes advantage of her innocence to make her an accomplice in a robbery he is planning with his friend Weizman (Eyal Rozales). When Malka learns of the plot, she engages her sister and Weizman's wife (Evelyn Kaplun) in a counter-scheme: Malka and her cohorts try to deceive the would-be robbers, grab the bounty and embark on a new path.

"I'm happy there is a wave of Israeli films that are putting women at the center. I think this is a praiseworthy trend. Women were not adequately addressed in Israeli filmmaking until now," Goldwasser says, referring to his new film and those of Zarhin and Zvi-Riklis. He blames the fact that most Israeli directors are men for the many years in which women failed to lead in local films.

"Most directors' first films are personal. They usually use them to unravel their own biographies," explains Goldwasser. "But there comes a time when they cast off personal material and begin to search for film subjects beyond themselves."

Despite Goldwasser's desire to make what he calls a "fun film," the production of "Ein La Elohim," based on a screenplay by Zohar Laskov and Haim Marin, faced unexpected obstacles. Filming began in September 2003, but a year later, work on the picture froze due to budgetary problems and differences of opinion between Goldwasser and producers David Mandil and Eyal Shiray. Much time passed before the parties concluded that their differences were insurmountable and parted ways. Producer Mark Rosenbaum entered the scene a year ago and made it possible for work on the film to continue. The Israeli Film Fund increased its support, and the Keshet television franchise and Cinema Investments joined the project. The film's final budget totaled about NIS 3.5 million.