Filmmaker Spotlight:
‘Let Me Hear Thy Voice’ filmmakers Mili Ben Hayl & Tamar Shippony

Leading up to the 28th Washington Jewish Film Festival, we asked our filmmakers a few questions about their featured films.
In this edition, Directors Mili Ben Hayl & Tamar Shippony discusses Let Me Hear Thy Voice.

What inspired you to tell the story of your subject or the story depicted in your film?

The film actually was an idea that came up from the website called “Invitation to Piyut” (it is an amazing database that archives and preserves Psalms and traditional Jewish prayers that come from all over the world, ancient and more modern).

They asked us to create a 5-minute film while documenting three women who deal with Jewish liturgy. We chose three female musicians and started filming.

During the editing process, we realized that the subject is so important that it cannot only be a 5-minute film. So, together with the Invitation to Piyut website, we produced and expanded the film (adding an additional female musician). After creating this film we realized how much potential there is in this subject and it might expand to a series documenting many female musicians who deal with Jewish liturgy.


Dir. Tamar Shippony

What was a particular obstacle you faced while making this film? 

As with many films, the budget was an obstacle. We created this film on a shoestring budget (lots of volunteer work) and so the film is quite basic in it’s visual display as well as sound recording that was not perfect. But we are happy with the way it came out, the spirit and insight it gives to people is priceless!


What do you want audiences to walk away with after screening your film?

First of all, inspiration. That they be inspired from the conversation and from what it brings up. The quote that ends the film by Rabbi Kook says it all for us “The old shall be renewed, and the new sanctified; together they will become torches that illuminate Zion“. And the subtext that comes up in the film is that the Halacha (Jewish law) is a flexible thing, and that it can be suited to modern times in order to be relevant to what is important nowadays – in many Orthodox groups women are not allowed to sing in public in front of men as to not arouse them, the women in the film challenge this idea and talk about it throughout the film.

We hope the film will open people’s mind to new ways of thinking and inspire them, especially Jewish religous people.


Why do you think Washington, DC is a valuable location to screen your film?

It’s a great place, and has quite a large Jewish community that would be interested and inspired from the film.


Director Mili Ben Hayl

What films or filmmakers have been the most influential to you?

Films – Nights of Caberia, Hiroshima Mon Amour, The Color of Paradise, Babel, Cast Away, Nine Lives, Amelie, Life is Beautiful, Eternal Sunshine and the Spotless Mind, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Eternity and a Day.

Filmmakers – the Dardenne Brothers, Federico Fellini, Alain Resnais, Michel Gondry, Krzysztof Kieślowski, Pier Paolo Pasolini


Why are Jewish-interest films important today?

Because it’s important to always ask questions, and films do this, as we always need to be considering new point of views and new ideas that will open our minds. Judaism is an amazing and spiritual religion, it has a lot to give the world, and we hope people who are not Jewish will be open to watching these films and get a broader idea of how important this religion is.

Watch Let Me Hear Thy Voice during the 28th Washington Jewish Film Festival.

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