‘The day I killed Ezra, I could not stop crying,” confesses Dvora
No, not a murderer but in fact a prolific creator, the
Jerusalem-based author is referring to one of the main characters in her novel
The Pomegranate Pendant. Written in 1995, the book tells the compelling story of
Mazal, a Yemenite Jew who comes to Israel as a young bride in the late 1800s and
makes a life for herself in Jerusalem.
An epic tale that spans several
generations, the book places Mazal at the center of the story, while the
turbulent history of the State of Israel unfolds in the background. Waysman says
she had to kill off Mazal’s husband early in the plot so that the narrative
could revolve around the formidable struggles of an Orthodox single mother in
Originally published by Feldheim, which was later taken
over by Mazo Publishers, the book has been translated into Hebrew and
What the 79-year-old Australian-born author of 11 books never
anticipated when she wrote and researched The Pomegranate Pendant
was that it
would be made into a movie. But Robert Bleiweiss, a film producer and
publisher of The Jewish Spectator
a Los Angeles-based magazine that ran many of
Waysman’s articles, thought it was “a hell of a story” and wanted to see
“The history of Israel has been told many times, but never through
the eyes of a single mother from Yemen living in the Old City,” he
Taking the project in hand, Bleiweiss wrote the script and produced
The Golden Pomegranate
premiered last week at the Jerusalem Film Festival
to a packed theater that had people sitting in the aisles.
by the film.
Although he tried to remain as faithful to the book as
possible, Bleiweiss had to add several elements to give the story more
tension. “There are no villains in the book,” he says. “In a film, you
villain.” Throughout the process, he kept Waysman apprised of all script
Shot exclusively in Israel, the movie was directed by Israeli
actor and director Dan Turgeman, who co-wrote the screenplay with
entire cast was Yemenite or North African, says Bleiweiss, explaining
was done in English because doing it in Hebrew would have greatly
audience potential. And, he elaborates, “People don’t like to read
and nobody dubs films anymore.”
He chuckles when he thinks of the many
times he had to take an actor or an extra aside to do a little speech
But the authenticity of the local accents adds to the film’s charm, not
mention the 600 stunning costumes fashioned under the deft supervision
costume designer Rona Doron.
And “stunning” is certainly the word to
describe the scenery. Shot in such locations as Jerusalem, Jaffa,
Jamal (near Beit Shemesh) and Rosh Ha’ayin, some of the scenes are so
breathtaking, that you sit in your seat thinking to yourself, “Where is
The work of the director of photography, Ofer Inov, is like
paintings, says Bleiweiss “I’d like to have some of those stills hanging
wall as art,” he confides.
As for the dramatic artists, three actresses –
Hadar Ozeri, Galit Giat and Timna Brauer – play the role of Mazal, each
portraying the heroine at an advancing stage of her life, while Ofir
plays the part of the ill-fated Ezra. Mazal’s father is played by Mati
Singer Ahinoam Nini has a small but pivotal role in the film, and those
eagle eye can spot Waysman in a fleeting cameo appearance.
“For me, this
film is a dream come true,” says Waysman, who has been living in Israel
years. “I never thought it would really happen,” she marvels.
At the end
of the screening, Turgeman made a short speech and then called to the
cast and crew who were in attendance.
When Waysman took to the stage, the
audience gave a rousing cheer for the diminutive greatgrandmother who
stirred their hearts and fired their imaginations.
For Israeli audiences,
the film strikes many resonant chords.
Whether it will have universal
appeal remains to be seen. Bleiweiss is taking the film to a number of
festivals around the world in the hopes that it will be purchased and
in wide distribution. Until that time, we can only watch and wait.
there’s some real-life suspense for you.