Reaching for the ‘Moon in the 12th House’

Local filmmaker Dorit Hakim’s directorial debut mirrors her own emotional journey.

YUVAL SCHARF (left) and Yaara Pelzig star in ‘Moon in the 12th House.’ (photo credit: RAN MENDELSON)
YUVAL SCHARF (left) and Yaara Pelzig star in ‘Moon in the 12th House.’
(photo credit: RAN MENDELSON)
"First films are always very personal. The movie uses some material from my life, but it’s not autobiography,” said Dorit Hakim, the director of the recently released movie, Moon in the 12th House, which had its Israeli premiere at the Jerusalem Film Festival.
The movie tells the story of two estranged sisters – one who stayed at their childhood home to care for their ill father, the other who left for a new life in the Tel Aviv club scene – who come to terms with their childhood traumas when they are reunited.
The movie will be shown this month at the Warsaw Film Festival and the Chicago International Film Festival.
“I kept going back to the idea of a movie about two sisters, I had to tell the story. It was very important. I feel very close to the sisters in the movie. I identify with both of them,” says Hakim.
In spite of her insistence that the movie is not about her family, it’s easy to see a certain similarity between Hakim’s life and the story told in the movie, which stars two of Israel’s top young actresses, Yaara Pelzig (Policeman, Zaguri) and Yuval Scharf (The Wonders, Footnote).
Hakim’s mother died shortly after she was born. She had a difficult relationship with her stepmother and left home very young, living with her older sister and in a boarding school.
“I had a troubled youth. I didn’t go to the army,” she said. Like Mira, the older sister in Moon in the 12th House, she got involved in the Tel Aviv nightlife scene.
“There is real fun there, and Mira finds who she is there. It’s not just dirt and not just drugs.”
For Hakim, nightlife also turned into a career. She became a journalist and eventually wrote a newspaper column about the scene, called Hakim by Night, for the newspaper Ha Ir, and also wrote short stories. After writing for several other publications, she studied film at the Sam Spiegel School for Film & Television in Jerusalem.
Her 1998 short film Small Change won the Silver Lion award at the Venice Film Festival and several other prizes around the world. She wrote and directed several other short films, then took off for Silicon Valley, where her husband had a business, and raised her children. But she still wanted to make a feature film.
“I always wanted to tell stories,” she said.
After her father’s death four years ago, Hakim spent a week in her childhood home during the shiva, which brought up many buried emotions for her, and she realized two things: she wanted to move back to Israel, and she needed to make her movie.
Her lead actresses were an inspiration to her, and all three women delved deeply into the story in a period of rehearsals and improvisations.
In spite of some difficulties and distractions – the movie was filmed partly during the war in the summer of 2014 – Hakim loved it.
“I like the hard work of film, being on set and working with actors.”
Having the film accepted to so many festivals has been gratifying, but perhaps the most satisfying part of making Moon in the 12th House was her sister’s reaction.
“When she saw the movie, she was very moved and touched, very proud of me,” she said. “It was a nice closure.”