The Israeli film community mourns Ronit Elkabetz' passing at 51
This morning, Minister of Culture and Sports Miri Regev eulogized the esteemed actress Ronit Elkabetz, who passed away at the age of 51 after battling cancer: "Ronit Elkabetz' passing struck us all with shock and grief. She was a revolutionary young woman and an inspiration to the cultural world and to women everywhere. Creating art was her calling; she set an example and a moral compass for the most painful and sensitive issues of Israeli and Jewish Society. Her image and essence shall always remain a part of Israeli culture and society."
The Ofir award-winning actress was born in Be'er Sheva in 1964 and spent most of her adolescent years in Bat Yam. Her first role on the big screen was in the 1990 drama "Hameyuad" (The Chosen), a role which she received despite her lack of acting education. In 1994 she appeared in the film "Sh'chur" (Curse), which landed her her first Ophir award, the Israeli "Oscar".
Elkabetz wrote and acted in numerous films and television productions in Israel. In 2001 she appeared in the French film "Origine Controlee", which received the "Best Movie" accolade at the New York Film Festival. For her role in Dover Kosashvili's "Chatuna Meucheret" (Late Wedding), she received a second Ophir award along with other accolades from film festivals in Greece and Argentina.
Elkabetz was nominated for the Ophir award yet again, in 2004, for her role in "Or:" (Or My Treasure). In the same year she won awards at film festivals in Jerusalem, Slovakia, Mexico and other countries. In 2005 she won the critic's award at a German movie festival, as well as others in Belgium, Turkey and Venice, for the film "VeLakachta Lecha Isha" (To Take a Wife) which she wrote, directed and co-stared in with her brother Shlomi Elkabetz. In 2007 she won her third Ophir award for the film "Bikur Hatizmoret" (The Band's Visit), thus becoming the record holder for Ophir awards in that category.
The three films she created with her brother, "To Take a Wife", "Shiva" and "Gett" were chosen to represent Israel in film festivals worldwide where they won many distinguished prizes. The latter film was submitted to the best foreign film category at the Oscars.
On top of her many performances on screen she also starred in numerous stage productions.
Elkabetz was president of the "Achoti – For Women in Israel" organization, which promotes issues of social, economic and cultural justice and empowerment of solidarity between women of lower socio-economic classes.
Many directors and actors eulogized Elkabetz this morning after her passing was announced. Actor Sasson Gabay, who starred alongside Elkabetz in the movie "Gett", among others, addressed her passing and said: "Ronit Elkabetz was truly a star in our galaxy. This is a woman who built herself, as an actress and an artist, from the ground up, using her own ten fingers and nails. She reached marvelous horizons, it was impossible to ignore her presence. Whenever Ronit arrived somewhere, everything that happened prior to her arrival was simply moot. In "Gett" I witnessed her in her full glory as a profound and intelligent actress. Everything she did always had some sort of agenda, be it racial, social or gender related.
Director Guy Nativ, who directed Elkabetz in his 2010 film "Mabul" (Deluge) added: "My heart is shattered and the tears are running. I'm shocked and hurt by the death of one of the rarest and most talented women that effected my life".