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August 25, 2021 2:42 pm
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Filming Begins for Drama About Woman Leaving Orthodox Community Against Backdrop of Sukkot Holiday

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

A Jewish worshipper holds the Four Species, used in rituals on the holiday of Sukkot, as he takes part in the priestly blessing at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest prayer site, amid Israel’s second-wave coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, in Jerusalem’s Old City, Oct. 5, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun.

Filming started in Italy on Monday for a film about a woman seeking to leave an Orthodox Jewish community ahead of the holiday of Sukkot, Variety reported.

The French-Italian co-production “Face à Toi” (“face yourself”) is being led by French actor and now director Stéphane Freiss. It stars French actress Lou de Laâge as 25-year-old Esther, who has lived her entire life in a close-knit Orthodox Jewish community in the south of France, and is looking to break from what she sees as the constraints of her religious lifestyle.

De Laâge won France’s Cesar Award for most promising young actress in 2013 for her role in “Jappeloup.” She also played the lead in the 2016 film “The Innocents” and starred in “White as Snow” in 2019.

Italy’s Riccardo Scamarcio plays a character who left his father’s farm in Southern Italy to attend art school in Rome but then returned home when his father died. He now takes care of the family farm, which attracts rabbis who come every year to pick the citruses known as etrogim used to celebrate the Sukkot holiday, and distribute them to Jewish communities around the world.

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“They are both constricted by family heritage,” said Freiss. He explained that “the passion sparked by their encounter prompts them both to extricate themselves from family ties.”

French documentary director and Kabbalah expert Pierre-Henry Salfati plays Esther’s father, a rabbi. The cast also includes Israel-based Iraqi actor Sasson Gabai; French actor-singer Liv Del Estal, Coraly Zahonero and Anna Sigalevitch.

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