‘Shtisel’ creator helms first film

Yehonatan Indursky’s debut, ‘Before Memory’, to be set among ultra-Orthodox in Bnei Brak.

‘Shtisel’ TV show (photo credit: TAMAR LAM)
‘Shtisel’ TV show
(photo credit: TAMAR LAM)
Yehonatan Indursky, one of Israel’s young, up-and-coming filmmakers recently started shooting his first feature film,  Before Memory, set among the haredim (ultra-Orthodox) in Bnei Brak.
Indursky, who grew up haredi and then went to the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in Jerusalem, is best known for creating (with Ori Elon) the acclaimed television series Shtisel, about a young haredi man with artistic aspirations and his extended family. The program, which won 11 television awards from the Israeli Academy of Film and Television, has been shown at film festivals all over the world.
Indursky also directed the documentary Ponevezh Time, about the Ponevezh Yeshiva in B’nei Brak, where he was a student for three years.
His short film The Cantor and the Sea was shown at the Jerusalem Film Festival last summer, and Indursky won the Van Leer Award for Best Director of a short feature. It tells the story of a never-married cantor who vacations with his mother at the beach and finds himself drawn to a young woman. His graduation film, Driver, won the best film and best acting awards of the Sam Spiegel School in 2011 and was also shown at the Jerusalem Film Festival.
Before Memory was developed at the Jerusalem International Film Lab, which is run by the Sam Spiegel School. It tells the story of Nahman Ruzumni, who lives on the fringes of the ultra-Orthodox community.
He drives beggars to wealthy people’s homes and helps them find the right way to tell their story to inspire these well-to-do people to give them charitable donations. For his services, the beggars give him a cut of the money, and he writes their stories in his notebook. He spends the rest of his nights in the nocturnal universe of makeshift casinos and cafes in the religious community.
When his wife leaves him suddenly, Ruzumni is left alone with his 12-year-old daughter. Terrified of this new responsibility, he tries to find someone to take her off his hands. But somewhere along the way, he and his daughter bond. Ruzumni comes to realize that although he has written dozens of other people’s stories in his battered notebook, he still has time to write his own.
Moshe Folkenflick, who has appeared in Shtisel as well as the films Awakening, Summer Story and Beitar Provence, will play the title role. Manuel Elkaslassy Vardi will portray his daughter. Some of Israel’s best-known actors will appear in the supporting cast, among them Doval’e Glickman (who plays the father in Shtisel), Rivka Michaeli, Yael Abecassis, Dov Navon, Yehezkel Lazarov and many others.