‘7 Blessings’ wins big at Ophir Awards; ceremony features protest of Arab crime wave

Film about Moroccan family in 1990s Jerusalem wins 10 awards, will represent Israel at Oscars; actress wears gown depicting bullet hole and blood in solidarity with violence victims

A scene from '7 Blessings,' this year's big winner at the 2023 Ophir Awards, including Best Picture (Courtesy PR)
A scene from '7 Blessings,' this year's big winner at the 2023 Ophir Awards, including Best Picture (Courtesy PR)

Ayelet Menahemi’s “7 Blessings” was the big winner in the 2023 Ophir Awards on Sunday night, winning ten awards out of 12 nominations for her first film in 16 years, and it will represent Israel at next years’ Oscars.

“7 Blessings,” about a close-knit Moroccan family with its share of secrets in Jerusalem in the early 1990s, won best film, best directing, best script, best actress and best supporting actress, as well as best makeup, casting and soundtrack.

Reymond Amsalem won her third Ophir and first best actor award for her role in “7 Blessings,” while Tiki Dayan won her first for her supporting actress role in the same film.

“Home,” a true story about a young Haredi man’s struggles to open a computer store in his neighborhood, won best actor and best supporting actor for Roy Nik and Dror Keren, respectively.

Meanwhile, “The Other Widow,” about a mistress attending a shiva after her lover’s passing, won for best set design and costume.

“The Vanishing Soldier,” about a soldier who goes AWOL to be with his girlfriend in Tel Aviv, won best cinematography.

But stealing the focus at the event was a protest against rampant violent crime in the Arab community, which has claimed 173 lives this year so far, more than double the rate of last year’s equivalent time period.

Actress Samar Qupty, who was nominated for best supporting actress for her role in “The Future” — but didn’t end up winning — arrived at the ceremony wearing a white gown, designed by Mervat Hakroush, featuring a bullet hole in her chest and “blood” dripping down the front.

Actress Samar Qupty, left, and bereaved mother Watfa Jabali protest against violence in the Arab community during the Ophir Awards ceremony on September 10, 2023. (Isaac Biran)

Qupty was accompanied by her guest Watfa Jabali, a bereaved mother and one of the founders of the “Mothers for Life” movement which decries the crime epidemic.

“I am nominated for a film called ‘The Future,’ but tonight I am here representing the present, because if we don’t deal with the violence of the present, there will be no future,” Qupty said.

Other nominees joined the protest by wearing black bracelets in solidarity with the grief experienced by more and more Israeli Arab families.

In her acceptance speech, Amsalem asked Jabali to stand as she voiced her solidarity, saying: “Arab society is not separate from us, it is us, and it is our responsibility to share in the pain and seek justice.”

Israeli film will be celebrated nationwide on September 13, with subsidized tickets for all Israeli movies currently playing in theaters around the country.

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