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Film / Ave Maria

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Ave Maria is a 2015 comedic short film directed by Basil Khalil.

A Jewish family—husband Moshe, wife Rachel, Moshe's cranky mother Esther—is driving down a dusty road in Palestine, on their way to their home in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. The husband somehow loses control of the car, which careens off the road and plows right into the base of a statue of the Virgin Mary, right outside of a convent. The convent is staffed by five nuns, Arab Christians, who have all taken vows of silence. And just to make things a little more complicated, Moshe is Orthodox and it's Friday night, when the Sabbath is about to begin. The Jewish family and the nuns have to find a way to breach a cultural divide.



  • All Jews Are Cheapskates: Moshe finally gets ahold of someone who will give him a ride, but the driver demands 400 shekels. Moshe refuses to pay more than 200. The driver hangs up on him.
  • Blatant Lies: After trying to bargain a driver from 400 to 200 shekels, and getting hung up on, Moshe tells Rachel that the guy on the phone refused an offer of 1,000.
  • Culture Clash: The main source of humor. The young nun is clearly quite irritated by Moshe's claim that he can't operate a phone on the Sabbath. Moshe freaks out when he sees a ham hock on a hook, and tries to take a glass of water away from his mother, saying that the kitchen isn't kosher.
  • Death Glare: The sabbath has started, which means that Moshe can't operate any machinery, so he tells the youngest nun that she has to dial the phone for him. She does. Then he tells her that she actually has to hold the receiver to his ear, since even holding the receiver apparently counts as "operating machinery." After the nun slams the phone down on the desk and stares daggers at him, he caves and picks the receiver up.
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  • Elective Mute: The nuns have taken a vow of silence. A sign reminds them that they have to pray 20 Hail Marys for each time they break the vow. They wind up breaking it several times.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: A couple of hours or so, from the Jewish family crashing outside the nunnery to the family driving off in the nuns' borrowed car.
  • For Inconvenience, Press "1": One of the ride services Moshe manages to call has the standard "For X, Press 1" option menu. The only problem is that Moshe is using the nuns' old rotary telephone. He slams the phone down in frustration.
  • Jewish Mother: Esther, who constantly nags and complains and criticizes Moshe for moving out to a West Bank settlement in the first place.
  • Nuns Are Funny: Five nuns, Elective Mutes, eating dinner at a table that's a little too small for all of them. When the Mother Superior leaves to deal with the car crash outside, the three remaining at table steal her bread. Further comedy ensues as the nuns have to deal with the agitated Jewish family suddenly appearing at their door.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Esther pretty plainly doesn't like her daughter-in-law, making several nasty comments, blaming Rachel for them being in this predicament in the first place since apparently moving to a West Bank settlement was her idea. Finally Rachel snaps.
    Rachel: That's it! I can't take any more of your judgmental comments!
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: Ends with the Jewish family in the nuns' old jalopy, driving off down the road, with a statue of the Virgin Mary tied to the roof of the car so they don't get shot by Israeli guards.
  • Title Drop: Moshe plays a cassette of a choir singing "Ave Maria", as a signal so that they don't get shot at the border checkpoint.
  • Wrench Wench: The young nun turns out to be a whiz with engines. After some fiddling, and after using Esther's pantyhose as a filter much to Esther's fury, the young nun gets the old car in the garage started, allowing the Jewish family to drive away.