Sexual harassment in the workplace is addressed in this absorbing film directed and co-written by Israeli feminist documentary filmmaker Michal Aviad, who began working on the film in 2012 – well before the Me Too era.
The narrative is realistic and unsettling, supported by outstanding actor performances which are completely convincing.
Orna (Liron Ben-Shlush) lives in a Tel Aviv apartment with her husband Ofer (Oshri Cohen) and three young children. They are financially strapped.
Ofer has opened a restaurant and is having trouble attracting customers when Orna is offered a full time and well-paid job as assistant to real estate magnate Benny (Menesh Noy). He had been her commanding officer in the army.
The job starts well. She has no experience but quickly develops confidence. Her ideas are listened to and her negotiating skills in selling apartments are recognized with promotion to a higher salary.
Her employer, a seemingly charming older man, suggests that she should let her hair loose instead of tied in a bun and wear skirts to work, supposedly to attract clients.
He has a habit of leaning towards her when they are talking and in the evening of a long working day he kisses her. Shocked, she points out that they are both married and leaves immediately.
She does not tell her husband because she values the job and the money – and does not want to see herself as a victim.
Benny apologies profusely and promises that it will never happen again but all sorts of harassment follow with unrelenting pressure. She is terrified to go to work, blames herself for what is happening and is unable to talk about her problems with her husband or mother.
A business trip to Paris results in a difficult to watch sexual assault in the passageway of the hotel. Through no fault of her own Orna is trapped in a situation of helplessness with a man using his power and physical strength in an effort to get a sexual response in non-consensual acts.
The handheld camera by cinema photographer Daniel Millert focuses on the intensity of the actor’s emotions at times making it almost unbearable to watch. The film wants you to feel anger. The theme is relevant and insightful in a story too familiar.
Hebrew language with English subtitles.
Showing at Luna Leederville, Luna SX Fremantle, Windsor Nedlands, Luna Outdoor, Leederville, Camelot Outdoor Mosman Park from Thursday 10 October.
Watch the trailer…