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‘What Anguish’: Israeli Actress Ronit Elkabetz Dies at 51

Ronit Elkabetz, a leading Israeli actress, director and scriptwriter, died April 19 at age 51 after a battle with cancer.

Over the course of her career, Elkabetz won three Ophir awards – the Israeli equivalent of the Oscar – for best actress, for her performances in the films “Sh’Chur,” “Late Marriage” and “The Band’s Visit”, and pushed Sephardi women to the forefront of Israeli cinema with Viviane Amsalem trilogy.

She is survived by her husband, architect Avner Yashar, 4-year-old twin sons, her parents and three brothers.

Her coffin will lie in state at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque from 11 A.M. to 1 P.M. on Wednesday for members of the public who want to pay their last respects. The funeral will begin at 12 P.M., and she will be buried at the Kiryat Shaul cemetery at 3 P.M.

Elkabetz was born in Be’er Sheva in 1964, the eldest of four children, one of whom is director and screenwriter Shlomi Elkabetz. She studied acting at the Hadar Theater.

Her first film appearance, which launched her acting career, was in the starring role of Daniel Wachsmann’s “The Appointed,” playing opposite Shuli Rand. She was 26 at the time.

Two years later, she appeared in Gidi Dar’s “Eddie King” (1992). That was followed by “Sh’Chur” (1994), directed by Shmuel Hasfari and Hanna Azoulay Hasfari, for which she won her first Ophir.

In recent years, Elkabetz also appeared in a number of French productions, including the TV series Trepalium, André Téchiné’s “The Girl on the Train” and Fanny Ardant’s “Ashes and Blood.”

Keren Yedaya, who cast Elkabetz in the leading role in two of her films, “Or” (My Treasure) and “Jaffa,” said on Tuesday, “Ronit and I fell in love more than 10 years ago at some Parisian café. They organized a meeting for us, and we stayed there together all night until dawn; we couldn’t bring ourselves to part. Since then, she has been my best friend, my beloved, my sister, the wisest, funniest, most beautiful, most talented woman in the world, to whom people come for advice about love and art and life and film. We’ve gone through so much together.

“She’s the greatest actress and director in the world. Totally. It was a great privilege to have known her and to be her friend, to be with her. What anguish, what a waste. How many projects were still there, how much love she still had to give.”

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