Ronit Elkabetz

Ronit Elkabetz

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Ronit Elkabetz
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Elkabetz in Jaffa, 2009
Born (1964-11-27)27 November 1964
Beersheba, Israel
Died 19 April 2016(2016-04-19) (aged 51)
Tel Aviv, Israel[1]
Nationality Israeli
Occupation Actress, film director
Years active 1990–2016
Spouse(s) Avner Yashar (2010–16; her death)

Ronit Elkabetz (Hebrew: רונית אלקבץ‬‎; 27 November 1964 – 19 April 2016) was an Israeli actress, writer and filmmaker. She worked in both Israeli and French cinema. She won three Ophir Awards and received a total of seven nominations.


Elkabetz was born in Beersheba in 1964 to a religious Moroccan Jewish family, originally from Essaouira. She grew up in Kiryat Yam. Her mother spoke French and Arabic, but her father insisted on speaking only Hebrew.[2] Elkabetz was the oldest of four children, with three younger siblings who were all brothers. Her younger brother Shlomi also became a director, and they worked together on the trilogy Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem .[3]

She never studied acting and started her career as a model. She divided her time between her homes in Paris and Tel Aviv.[4] She married architect Avner Yashar, the son of prominent architect Yitzhak Yashar, on 25 June 2010.[5] In 2012, they had a twin son and daughter. During her final years, she was honorary president of the Mizrahi Feminist movement “Achoti – For Women in Israel”, and volunteered in the organization’s activities, such as the fair trade store and clothing drives.[6] In 2015 she was selected to be the President of the Jury for the International Critics’ Week section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.[7]


Elkabetz died of cancer on 19 April 2016 after a long struggle with the disease.[8]

Acting and directing career[edit]

Elkabetz’s first film appearance was in The Appointed (1990), where she played in the starring role opposite Shuli Rand.[9] They both starred in Gidi Dar‘s Eddie King in 1992. In 1994 she starred in Sh’Chur, for which she won the Israeli Film Academy (Ophir) Award. In 1995 she wrote with her partner, Haim Buzaglo, the script for Scar, in which she also starred, and for which she learned French. In 1996 she starred in Amos Gitai‘s Metamorphosis of a Melody. In 1997 she moved to Paris to study in Ariane Mnouchkine‘s Théâtre du Soleil. During that period, she supported herself as a waitress. She did a one-woman show on the life of the choreographer Martha Graham at the Avignon Festival.

In 2001 she starred in the French film Origine contrôlée, and won her second Ophir Award for Late Marriage. In 2003 she teamed again with Gitai on Alila. In 2004 she was nominated for an Ophir Award for Or (My Treasure), and starred in the Israeli legal drama series Franco and Spector.

In 2004 she wrote, directed (with her brother, Shlomi Elkabetz) and starred in the semi-autobiographic film To Take a Wife, for which she was again nominated for an Ophir Award.[10]

In 2006 she also starred in the Israeli drama series Parashat HaShavua. In 2007 she starred in Eran Kolirin‘s The Band’s Visit, for which she won her third Ophir Award.[11][12]

In 2008 she and Shlomi finished their second film, Shiva (“Seven Days”), which won the Wolgin Award for Best Feature Film at the 2008 Jerusalem Film Festival.[13][14]

In 2009 she starred alongside Catherine Deneuve in André Téchiné‘s La Fille du Rer. Her other recent French projects have included Ashes and Blood, Turk’s Head, and Les mains libres. In 2010 she received an Ophir Award nomination for Best Actress for her work in Mabul.[15] She was recently the subject of Nir Bergman’s documentary A Stranger in Paris.[16]

Her 2014 film Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem was selected to be screened as part of the Directors’ Fortnight section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.[17] This was the final film Elkabetz directed prior to her death.

Critical acclaim[edit]

Israeli film critic Uri Klein wrote: “Moviegoers can admire Ronit Elkabetz or recoil from her, or admire and recoil at the same time. Ignoring her is not an option. The mystery and the exoticism, the threat and the danger have ultimately gathered into a potent presence and cogent control.”

In May 2010, Elkabetz received the France Culture award at the Cannes Film Festival, a prize awarded to filmmakers for quality work and social involvement. The judges described her as a “woman teeming with passion and erotica, who can even play the queen of Egypt.”[18][19]

Pascal Elbé director of Turk’s Head cited his enthusiasm for casting Elkabetz. “I chose an actress who reminds me of those great Italian stars of the postwar period, like Anna Magnani.”[20]

In 2010, Elkabetz received a lifetime achievement award from the Israeli Film Academy for her contribution to Israeli cinema.[21]

Film and television credits[edit]

List of film and television credits
Year Title Role Notes
1990 The Appointed Oshra Original title: Hameyu’ad
1992 Eddie King
1994 Sh’Chur Pnina Ophir Award :Film
1994 official Israeli submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
Ophir Award for Best Supporting Actress
1995 Tzalaket
1996 Metamorphosis of a Melody Amos Gitai film
1997 Ben Gurion Short film
2000 Florentine Nicole TV series. 2 episodes
2001 Origine contrôlée Sonia US title: Made in France
2001 Late Marriage Judith Ophir Award for Best Actress
Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema Award for Best Actress
International Thessaloniki Film Festival Award for Best Actress
2003 Alila Ronit
2003–2004 Franco Ve’Spector Dafna Spector TV series, 8 episodes
2004 Or (My Treasure) Ruthie International Film Festival Bratislava Grand Prix
Mexico City International Contemporary Film Festival Special Distinction Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Ophir Award for Best Supporting Actress
2004 To Take a Wife Viviane Hamburg Film Festival Critics Award
Mons International Festival of Love Films Award for Best Actress
Venice Film Festival Audience Award and Isvema Award
Nominated—Ophir Award for Best Actress
2006–2009 Parashat Ha-Shavua Elia Ben-David 25 episodes
2007 The Band’s Visit Dina Ophir Award for Best Actress
Ghent International Film Festival Special Mention Award
Jerusalem Film Festival Award for Best Actress
2008 7 days Vivianne Jerusalem Film Festival Wolgin Award for Best Israeli Feature
Nominated—Ophir Award for Best Director
Nominated—Ophir Award for Best Screenplay
Nominated—Ophir Award for Best Actress
2008 L’endroit idéal Barbara Short film
2009 Zion and His Brother Mother
2009 The Girl on the Train Judith André Téchiné film
2009 Jaffa Osnat ‘Ossi’ Wolf
2009 Ashes and Blood Judith Cendres et sang
2010 Turk’s Head Sibel, la mère de Bora Tête de turc
2010 Les mains libres Barbara
2010 Mabul Miri Roshko Nominated—Ophir Award for Best Actress
2011 Invisible Lily[22]
2012 Zarafa Bouboulina (voice)
2014 Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem Director; role of Viviane Amsalem Nominated—Ophir Award for Best Director
Nominated—Ophir Award for Best Screenplay
Nominated—Ophir Award for Best Actress
2016 Trepalium Nadia Passeron French TV series

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