Ronit Bezalel

London , London, England
Lives in
Chicago , IL
United States
Illinois US

Documentarist. Based in Montreal in the early 1990s, McGill-trained social activist Bezalel is best known for When Shirley Met Florence (1994, 27), her affecting, deceptively simple film about friendship between two elderly Jewish Montrealers, a married heterosexual woman Shirley and her pal Florence. “Music was one of the glues” they say, and it’s clear from this documentary, how singing and playing together sustained their friendship for twenty-five years, throughout each’s attachment to life partners and conformist pressures. Originally an independent project, Shirley was taken under the NFB’s wing, made part of its lesbian/gay package and became a favorite of both the queer and Jewish festival circuits. Bezalel’s earlier work had included a reflection on lesbian stereotyping (Tearing the Veil, 1990), as well as the raw You Can’t Beat It Out of Us (co-dir. Chris Martin, 1991), about the Montreal police’s brutal crackdown on queers during the “Sex Garage” affair. Bezalel relocated to Chicago where her housing activism led to Newsweek naming her one of the top fifteen women of the 21st century!