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The House on Chelouche Street

The House on Chelouche Street is a 1973 semi-autobiographical film by Israeli director Moshé Mizrahi, filmed in Hebrew, Egyptian Arabic, and Judeo-Spanish (a.k.a. Ladino, a Jewish language mostly derived from Old Castilian). The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Plot

The film tells the story of a Sephardi family of Egyptian Jewish immigrants from Alexandria that settle in 1947 Tel Aviv. The family consists of a 33-year-old widowed wife, Clara, (played by Gila Almagor, one of the most prominent actresses in Israel for the last three decades) and her four children. They live in a working-class neighborhood surrounded by their extended family, including Clara's mother Mazal, Clara's uncle Rafael, and Sultana, his wife. The plot centers on the firstborn, Sami, his transition from a shy 15-year-old to a working man and an activist in the "Irgun" (a resistance movement that acted mainly against the military forces of the British), and the romantic attachment he develops with a 25-year-old Russian immigrant librarian (Michal Bat-Adam, now a director). In addition to this, Clara struggles between social pressure to take a husband and her own complex feelings surrounding this, complicated by another Sephardi Egyptian, played by Yosef Shiloach, who has strong feelings for her.