Israeli actress Hadas Yaron on Saturday won the award for best actress at the 69th Venice International Film Festival, for the film Fill the Void, called Lemale Et Ha’Halal in Hebrew.

The film about a young bride torn between love and familial obligations premiered at the festival.



Yaron portrayed Shira, an 18-year-old hassidic woman who is thrilled about her forthcoming arranged marriage with a young man whom she has only briefly seen in a supermarket.

Tragedy strikes when Shira's older sister Esther dies giving birth, leaving the family crushed by grief.

The film, set in the secluded hassidic community living in Tel Aviv, offers a glimpse into the ultra-Orthodox way of life, its rigid customs and traditions, but also deals with the wider themes of relationships and family pressures.

Israeli director Rama Burshtein brought her own ultra- Orthodox community to the big screen in the film.

“People don't know much about this world, so it’s not a question of celebration or criticism, it’s a window into this world,” said the New Yorkborn Burshtein, who grew up in a secular family but became ultra-Orthodox while attending the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Jerusalem, where she graduated in 1994.

“I love this world, I come from it, I chose it, I was not born in it. But I think we hear many voices [in the film], I think it’s open,” she told reporters.

Burshtein has spent more than a decade teaching and making cinema for the ultra- Orthodox community, some of them for women only, as haredi men are barred from viewing women on the big screen.

She is one of 21 female directors at the Venice film festival this year, and one of the four competing for the top Golden Lion prize.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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