An immigrant mother and daughter butt heads in Noam Argov’s short film, Sulam (The Ladder). Just before leaving for school for her math final, twelve-year-old Alma (Oriah Elgrabli) finds her mother (Mor Cohen) with a bucket catching the water dripping from the apartment ceiling. Mother needs to buy a ladder from the hardware store and needs Alma to accompany her to translate for her as she only speaks Hebrew.
Annoyed and running late for school, Alma reluctantly agrees to help. Although, really, she had no other choice. But, when her mother is not moving fast enough, Alma refuses to help ask the store employee for the location of the ladders and runs away.
“…needs Alma to accompany her to translate for her as she only speaks Hebrew.”
Sulam (The Ladder) explores the co-dependent relationship that exists between parent and child, particularly when you add the immigrant dynamic to the mix and the primary language is not English. While Alma should be at school with her friends, doing class work, she is metaphorically tied at the hip to her mother to accomplish the simplest tasks.
What writer/director Noam Argov does so well is play this mother/daughter dynamic back-and-forth. First, there’s the independence-seeking child, always on call for anything. Her mother burns the candle at both ends and now has to deal with an annoying water leak. Based on their emotional performances, leads Oriah Elgrabli and Mor Cohen understand the exact beats of their characters to make this story feel genuine.
In just ten minutes, covering a span of an hour in time for a mother and daughter, Sulam (The Ladder) says a lot about the lives of immigrants adjusting to life in a new world.
"…says a lot about the lives of immigrants adjusting to life in a new world."