Ben Zaken

The Ben Zaken family lives in the small Israeli city of Ashkelon on a rundown housing estate. The family is made up of single father Shlomi with his eleven-year-old daughter Ruhi, his brother Leon and the mother of the two brothers. Their living situation is somewhat precarious. The austere apartment is cramped and everyone’s nerves are pretty frayed. Social services has its eye on the motherless Ruhi, who is bullied in school and is not an easy child.
Efrat Corem’s remarkable debut film is a sensitive portrait of an environment marked by stagnation and a lack of economic and emotional resources. The film tells its story in calm scenes that are empathetic while still retaining a degree of distance. They often consist of single shots, which are less about putting bleakness on display than posing the question of what family is. Is a shared name and a shared roof over your head enough to define a family, or is it more about having feelings of altruistic responsibility for each other? Over the course of the film, Ruhi’s father is forced to find a very concrete answer to this general question and to find what his role as a father is supposed to be.
by Efrat Corem
with Eliraz Sade, Rom Shoshan, Mekikes (Ronen) Amar, Chani Elemlch, Batel Mashian, Robby Elmaliah, David Ben Hamo
Israel 2014 90’

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