One of our members, Rod, wrote this nice review of Fill the Void:
Yesterday at Ragtag Cinema I saw a beautiful film depicting the tensions of living within one’s culture fully and completely to the extreme point of self-sacrifice mixed perhaps with a bit of love. The film is Fill the Void (Lemale et Ha’halal), an Israeli contribution from last year. The storyline is tenderly and respectfully presented, the cinematography is exceptional, the movement of the plot subtly captures the interest and draws one deeper and deeper into the emotional and intellectual aspects of the drama at hand. It is a journey into a devout society, one that focuses on one’s responsibility to the collective unit and not to the individual desires of the one; the theme is simple, how is marriage contracted in a tight-knit society when tragedy has struck.
The story centers on a young girl of eighteen, Jewish, and more, Hasidic, whose older sister, Esther, has died in childbirth, leaving the brother-in-law and newborn baby, Mordechay, alone. You might need to take a quick look at the Torah to remember what is expected of the family in a situation like this. The setting is the modern-day; the depth and expression of the Faith of Israel is established in history, a history that is ever present and ever respected and honored in the keeping of the expectations of that Faith even in the modern moment; no truer than in the Hasidic community.
I encourage you to find the times, pick one and see this wonderful glimpse of life. Oh. It is in Yiddish, English subtitles, as are the credits, fore and aft; I encourage you to stay through to the very end as the song is sung. The song is a Psalm (137.5): “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill; If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth….” The religious scenes are authentic, men and women separated in the moment, in the synagogue or in a home; the men sing and dance together joyously, feverishly; all daub as they pray (a gentle rocking of the body as one focuses one’s attention on the words, the prayers, the Almighty). I only include the latter to lend insight into what is taking place if you are unfamiliar with these practices, not to insult. I encourage you to take in Fill the Void.