“I’ve got so many female characters in me. Two thousand women. I just have to meet them. They must be real, that’s all.” This is how Anna Magnani (1908-1973), the greatest actress of Italian neorealism, once described her versatility. She was an international star long before Sophia Loren’s and Gina Lollobrigida’s perfectly arched eyebrows captured the world’s attention. Anna Magnani’s powerful potrayals of Italian women and especially mothers were breathtaking. She was often imitated but never equalled. There’s only one actress in the world whose acting was as powerful and impressive as the one of Anna Magnani: Ronit Elkabetz.
I discovered this magnificent Israeli actress when I was preparing an interview with a French actor. Given the fact that I’m a perfectionist, I watched most of his movies I could find in the Internet. One day, I watched Les mains libres by Brigitte Sy and I was simply blown away by the appearance and the performance of Ronit Elkabetz.
MOROCCO – ISRAEL – FRANCE
Ronit was born in 1964 in Be’er Sheva in the south of Israel. Her parents were Moroccan immigrants. She started her career as a model. In 1990, she starred in the film Hameyu’ad by Daniel Wachsmann. She was awarded an Ophir, Israel’s most important film prize, for her outstanding performances in Sh’Chur (1994) –a drama about Jews who immigrated from Morocco –, Late Marriage by Dover Koshashvili (2001) and The Band’s Visit by Eran Kolirin(2007).
She was already a star in Israel when she decided in 1997 to open a new chapter in her life. She went to Paris, started to learn French and to study at the Ariane Mnouchkine Theatre. She appeared in various French films like Cendres et sang (2009) by Fanny Ardant, La fille du RER (2009) by André Téchiné, Tête de Turc (2009) by Pascal Elbé, Les Mains libres (2010) by Brigitte Sy.
RONIT ELKABETZ, A MODERN ANNA MAGNANI
(Above) The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (2014) by Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz featuring Ronit Elkabetz, Simon Abkarian, Menashe Noy and Sasson Gabai.
(Above) The Band’s Visit (2007) featuring Ronit Elkabetz, Sasson Gabai and Saleh Bakri. The film received more than 20 awards.
(Above) Ronit Elkabetz in The Band’s Visit (2007), which was Israel’s original foreign language film submission for the 80th Academy Awards. It was rejected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences because it contained over 50% English dialogue.
(Above) Les mains libres by Brigitte Sy featuring Ronit Elkabetz, Carlo Brandt, Noémie Lvovsky and Abdelhafid Metalsi.
(Above) A forbidden love between an Israeli woman and an Arab: Jaffa (2009) by Keren Yedaya starring Ronit Elkabetz, Dana Ivgy, Moni Moshonov, Mahmoud Shalaby and Roy Assaf.
(Above) Tête de turc by Pascal Elbé (2010) featuring Roschdy Zem, Pascal Elbé, Ronit Elkabetz, Samir Makhlouf and Simon Abkarian.
(Above) A tribute to one of the greatest actresses of all time. Ronit Elkabetz, a modern Anna Magnani, does not only refer to the outstanding acting and the powerful portrayal of women, but also to their physical resemblance.
ANNA MAGNANI, MAMMA ROMA (1908 – 1973)
(Above) Anna Magnani and Ettore Garofolo in Mamma Roma by Pier Paolo Pasolini (1962). She plays a Roman prostitute who wants to change her life. Her son Ettore who grew up in the small town of Guidonia doesn’t know anything of her mother’s job.
(Above) Anna Magnani in Correva l’anno di grazia 1870 (1972)
Vogue US published an article on Anna Magnani and her retrospective at the Lincoln Center.
Ronit Elkabetz, a modern Anna Magnani is the first of two online articles on Israel’s best actress.