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Rama Burshtein, 2013

Artificial Eye

Winsome young women in old-fashioned dress whispering and giggling, matchmaking, bashful glances – the initial impression is of a Hassidic Jane Austen. And, sure enough, tragedy arrives, visited on a devout Jerusalem family and bringing emotional turmoil to the rigorously ordered structure of ultra-orthodox Jewish daily life.

The central dilemma falls on Shira, the teenage daughter torn between girlish dreams and womanly duty. With patient, sensitive handling and frequent use of close-ups, writer/director Rama Burshtein (herself orthodox) enables an intimate insight into a rarely glimpsed world and brings out the human heart that beats beneath centuries of religious ritual.

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