Noa Rotstein, making her feature film debut, stars as “Ellie” in Foreign Letters.
Ellie is an Israeli girl who moves to Connecticut at age 12. Unlike so many films which appear to put kids in the front but are clearly more interested in their parents, Foreign Letters really is about Ellie. We almost never see her parents, and beyond making the initial decision to move to the USA, they have no essential role in the drama.
After a period of loneliness and disorientation, Ellie eventually makes a new friend named “Thuy” (Delena Le) who is a refugee from Vietnam, but their relationship is not an easy one. In addition to explicit language barriers and implicit culture expectations, Ellie and Thuy must also confront the difference in their economic circumstances (something Ellie fails to understand for far too long).
Brava to filmmaker Ela Thier for crafting such a delicately modulated story, and for casting it so beautifully. Although Noa Rotstein’s Ellie is definitely the central character, Delena Le suffuses her supporting role with intense understatement. (I know that sounds like a contradiction but when you see Foreign Letters–and sincerely I hope that you do–I know you will understand what I mean.) This is one of the finest films I have ever seen about tween girls, and trust me, I have already seen more than my share
Click HERE to read more about filmmaker Ela Thier.
NOTE: The title of the film, Foreign Letters, refers to a Chava Alberstein album with this same name, songs from which are prominently featured on the film’s soundtrack. Click HERE to read more about this lovely album, which I have also treasured for many years myself. (FYI, members of the American Press sometimes call Chava Alberstein “the Judy Collins of Israel.”)
Photo Credits: Noa Rotstein (as “Ellie”) with Delena Le (as “Thuy”) in Foreign Letters. Copyright: Ela Thier.