Michal Aviad’s documentary shows spirit of Dimona settlers

Growing up in Jerusalem in the 1980s, I remember talk about Ashkenazi and Sefaradi origins, but mostly in terms of prayer styles and separate synagogues. My family was very liberal and my mother chose a school with the same agenda for me.

Only later in life was I exposed to the deep tear in Jewish culture in Israel, regarding a person’s origin. I was too innocent, thinking it really didn’t matter.

Dimona Twist is partly about that cultural issue, but mostly, it’s about women. Strong, wise, heartwarming women. Winner of the Van Leer award for Best Israeli Documentary Film – Jerusalem Interantional Film Festival, Israel, Director Michal Aviad dares to take “the cultural genie” out of the bottle. In this miraculous film, she interviews amazing women who were sent to live in Dimona with their families in the early 1960s.

A tiny settlement in the middle of the southern desert, Dimona was a big nothing. Sending people there was horribly wrong as most didn’t know Hebrew, but rather spoke French, Arabic or Polish. They lived in tiny tin sheds, starting over in the worst way.

However, the women being interviewed are not crying over the wrongs of the past. They paint a beautiful picture of success despite all obstacles. Their spirits were not broken and they have all built great lives for themselves.

Parts of the stories are too hard to hear and I found myself wiping my tears more than once. Others make you laugh so hard and at some point the people in the audience had even clapped their hands. Either way, you fall in love with each character and want to get to know them better.

The film’s 70 minutes is not nearly enough. I was very emotional when I left the theatre. What a magnificent world those women had created for themselves! What an amazing spirit they all possess and how exciting it is to watch each one tell her own story, accompanied by the wonderful footage and films from the old times.

Michal’s interviews were conducted with great sensitivity and she managed to shed a light on each woman, show her unique characteristics, bravery and strength.

Highly recommended, never a dull moment in the film. I give it a 5.5 in my scale of 5.

© Eti Or (9/7/17) FF2 Media

Photos: Stills from Dimona Twist

Photography: Sharon (Shark) De Mayo, Itay Maron

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