See “SULAM” (“The Ladder”) at 2:30 PM PST on 6/24, reserve your spot! Filmmaker Noam Argov will be in attendance!
Rebecca Martin Fagerholm, Managing Editor, spoke with Cinema Femme Short Film Fest 2023 Breaking Down Walls Mentor Recipient Noam Argov about her short “SULAM” (“The Ladder”). The film is heartbreaking and meaningful in showing a morning spent between an immigrant woman, played by Mor Cohen, and her twelve-year-old daughter, played by Oriah Elgrabli. Both actresses give riveting performances. We were fortunate to screen her film for our in-person and online festival (4/28 – 5/4). Before her film premieres at Palm Springs Shortfest next week we wanted to elevate Noam and her work! We are so excited about Noam as a filmmaker and how her voice as a filmmaker grows. She is a savant in what she does. Rebecca joked that we will soon have to have a Noam Argov retrospective. Stay tuned!
Twelve year-old Alma and her mother are recent immigrants to the outskirts of Central Florida. On a tense morning before school, they wake up to find part of the ceiling in their apartment leaking and journey to buy a ladder at a local hardware store. What starts out as a simple shopping trip, however, quickly escalates. As Alma refuses to help translate and aggressively removes herself from the situation, boiling tensions test their relationship and co-dependence.
This film is my most personal work by far. For years I’ve shied away from creating art that is so directly based in my own experience because, as an immigrant, I struggle with my identity. While immigrating to the United States was a positive move for my family in so many ways, it was also fraught with so many challenges for assimilation. With this project I wanted to take a personal, creative
risk, to do something that scared me. I wanted to tell an immigration story rooted in relationships, disconnection and even shame. Especially within the family unit. I guess that just means it’s rooted in
the parts of myself I am often afraid to examine. But that’s also what makes this film beautiful and human.
And so I made SULAM, which means “ladder” in Hebrew. The film is based on a conglomeration of memories from my childhood immigrating to the United States. It deals with the feelings I then
experienced around my mother and her inability to properly communicate in a new country. Today this work is an artistic expression and evaluation of the shame I feel retroactively for not understanding how hard it was for her to feel helpless and alone. I wanted to create space for that distinct moment in which many of us immigrants come of age and grapple with our conflicting identities. I wanted to make a film in which other immigrants can feel at home, even in the complexities of the experience. I learned that making such personal work can often be the most painful, but I hope that in something so personal others can see themselves. – Noam Argov
Noam Argov is an Israeli-American filmmaker and MFA Directing Student at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Growing up as an immigrant in Central Florida, Noam spent much of her childhood walking around barefoot and dreaming up elaborate stories. Noam got her start doing outdoor adventure filmmaking, and then transitioned to directing and producing independent documentaries all over the world. She worked as a National Geographic Explorer and a filmmaker with brands like The North Face, Merrell, and Yeti. Her award-winning independent documentaries screened at festivals
worldwide, and were distributed by outlets like RedBullTV, National Geographic, The United Nations, US Department of State, Outside and MailChimp Presents. Recently her film “My Dear Kyrgyzstan” was featured by Roger Deakins on the Team Deakins podcast.
In 2020, Noam started the MFA Graduate Film Program in Writing/Directing at NYU Tisch, to transition into writing and directing original narrative film and television. At Tisch, Noam is a Film Futures Scholar and BAFTA US Scholarship Program nominee. Her narrative short “Let Me Assist You” was acquired for streaming by Omeleto in 2022, and she produced two films going to SXSW in 2023. She is currently working on her thesis film, with plans to graduate in 2024.
What It’s All About —
Overall, Noam’s films tend to center on unlikely and faulty heroes who defy stereotypes, examining struggles with identity relationships. No matter the project, Noam is driven by unassuming people doing the unique and incredible, whether they’re a composer, actor or a character in a story. From presenting with Women in Media in LA to teaching film workshops for Oakland teen girls with Reel Stories, Noam is active in organizations that elevate women in film.