“Wedding Doll” is the story of young beauty, Hagit (Moran Rosenblatt), who lives with her divorced mother Sara (Assi Levy). Hagit is filled with creative talent and the drive to make something of herself. She works happily for a toilet paper manufacturer where she’s allowed to use scraps to make wedding dolls.
Written and directed by Nitzan Gilady, “Wedding Doll” is the documentarian’s first feature film. The idea for story came to him after seeing a photo of a wedding dress made of toilet paper rolls—just like the one you see in the film.
Hagit’s dream is to get married and her eye is on the boss’ son Omri (Roy Assaf). Tragically, her diminished mental capacity—combined with Omri’s cowardice—makes theirs a doomed love. Omri has deep feelings for Hagit but he’s too weak to stand up to the harsh judgments of his father and friends.
Sara, the long suffering mother, has given up freedom in order to look after Hagit who cannot safely be left unsupervised. Childlike impulses and absence of judgment make Hagit a danger to herself and others. Sara sacrifices a normal life and a budding romance because she loves Hagit too much to send her away to a facility.
The characters in Hagit’s close circle are all relatable and sympathetic. The only cruelty we see is in a neighbor’s child who follows Hagit around and taunts her with screams of, “Weirdo!” We also find out about vicious classmates in Hagit’s past.
Anyone familiar with disappointment, obstacles and pain will need tissues—lots of them. But despite its sadness, the movie is a must-see for the sophisticated writing, wonderful cinematography, powerful directing and stellar acting.
“Wedding Doll” won a multitude of awards which include Jerusalem Film Festival’s Best Actress, Best First Film and Best Israeli film. It also cleaned up at the Ophir Awards (the Israeli Oscars) where it won for Best Actress and Best Costume Design and received nine nominations which included Best Film and Best Director.
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Dorri Olds: How did you two meet?
Moran Rosenblatt: Nitzan called me [to say] he’s making a movie about a disabled girl. He wanted us to meet for a coffee. He saw me in two movies before. We met and he told me about the movie and asked me to come the week after with something from the character. I worked on it and came for the meeting. We had a really long meeting and then we started our partnership.
DO: You were so believable in this role. Did you create a backstory for the character or was it all in the script?
MR: Yes, of course, always I create back stories but mostly it was a search for her smile. It was the key I think. In the script and when we worked since the beginning when Nitzan told me she smiles all the time, I resisted at first. I didn’t understand where the smile comes from. The moment I let go and did what [Gilady] asked me to, I said, “Okay, I’ll smile.”
I realized [Hagit] smiles to protect herself from the environment. She smiles to make her mother happy. She smiles because she imagines a better future and really believes it. It’s a lot of different smiles and that was the key for the character.
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DO: The story is filled with sadness. Were you inspired by something personal?
Nitzan Gilady: Yes, 10 years ago we discovered that my brother suffers from post trauma disorder [sic]. It was a shock for everyone. We didn’t know how to deal with it, especially my father who was very protective. It was a difficult process of learning…. I heard many times from my brother that he wanted to get married but each time he would go on dates with girls, he would be really worried. Whenever he told them [about PTSD] they would disappear.
DO: Did he have PTSD from war?
NG: From military service, not during the war. When they had practice they ran into a group of terrorists who started shooting them. Unfortunately, in Israel there’s a lot of people that suffers from post trauma disorder. We forget that there are more casualties—not just dead people.
DO: You mean also those that experience PTSD and the families that love them?
NG: Yeah, that’s why I wish the situation were different. Peace is the only way for us to live in this world.
Click here to watch a video excerpt with Rosenblatt
Click here to watch a video excerpt with Gilady
Don’t miss this brilliant gem of a film. “Wedding Doll” opens in New York City on Fri., April 15 at Village East Cinema. Not rated. 82 min.