This haunting debut feature from Israeli director Yaelle Kayam combines the acute discomfort of a Todd Solondz movie with the gentle pacing of early Sofia Coppola, to explore religious themes of greater scope than anything either American director has yet tackled. The main character, Tsiva is an Orthodox woman who lives with her husband, a yeshiva teacher and their four young children in a house inside the ancient graveyard that blankets Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives. Asked by a visitor if it ever bothers her to live among the tombs, she says no, boasting that she can see the Temple Mount from her kitchen window. Director Kayam wrote the script inspired by this unique location, between the two iconic Jerusalem mountains, one representing death (Mount of Olives), the other salvation (Temple Mount). Tzvia’s husband shows great promise at work but increasingly neglects her in his religious devotions. Though her life appears cozy and domestic, in her isolation she is all but buried alive. As her confinement presses upon her, she looks for companionship in unlikely places—in the graveyard and among the pimps and prostitutes who also use it as a haven. As her search for connection turns deadly, actress Shani Klein (Zero Motivation, SFJFF 2014) imbues Tsiva with a haunting tenderness that makes the movie unforgettable.
—Emily Kaiser Thelin