About the Project

The Book of Maria

Maria is a young woman living in hip Tel Aviv. Looking at her, one would never guess that she grew up with 11 brothers and sisters in a strict, ultra-Orthodox community in Israel and went by the name of Miriam. Since then, she has been a religious settler, written for a marijuana legalization magazine, spent almost a year under house arrest, studied acting, tried hundreds of different jobs, and also read thousands of books…
But lately, Maria is busy writing her own book and she hasn’t been able to stop. She writes about burning curtains, her grandpa’s jokes, a pregnant ballerina, her mama’s kidney, broken plates a sudden arrest, discarded jeans, her father’s slippers, and other such things.
Then the wind blows and scatters her pages everywhere!  

The Book

The Creators

Yulia Mestechkin

Yulia lives in Jerusalem. She created this project together with Evgeni.

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Yulia has worked as a researcher, field producer, director’s assistant, and interpreter with many Israeli and international film directors. She was also involved in the production of several Dutch and Israeli TV shows. Yulia’s photography has been featured in group and solo exhibits as well as having been published in newspapers and magazines in Israel and Europe.

Together with Evgeni in 2015, Yulia produced her first Israeli-German theater project Out of Mea Shearim with the participation of eight, young former ultra-Orthodox Israelis.

Evgeni Mestetschkin

Evgeni lives in Hamburg. He helped Yulia to make the project via Zoom and telephone.

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Evgeni is a theater director, he has produced numerous theatrical productions with professional actors as well as documentary theater projects with “non-actors” in various cities in Germany, in Israel, and in Russia. His projects are regularly featured in various international festivals. He is also the artistic director of iact – the school for film and theater in Hamburg.

In 2015, together with Yulia, he produced an Israeli-German theater project Out of Mea Shearim with the participation of eight, young former ultra-Orthodox Israelis.

Maria Estraicher

The project is based on her stories and she narates some of them.

Zelda Shusha

She is a good listener.

Johnatan Zlobin

Born in Dushanbe, Tadjikistan, Johnatan lives in Israel. He filmed the project.

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Johnatan is a cameraman and a director. He has worked in numerous independent, commercial and TV productions. Upon graduation from HaMidrasha – the Faculty of the Arts at Beit Berl College, Johnatan won an award for his camera work at Cine Forte Festival. In 2015, Johnatan won a cinematography award at Docaviv International Film Festival in Tel Aviv, as well as a cinematography award from the Israeli Documentary Filmmakers Forum for his full-length documentary Credit for Murder.

Vladimir Dzyackevich

Born in Moscow, Vladimir lives in Israel. He edited the project.

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Vladimir is a screenwriter, a director and an editor. After getting a degree in biology he quit his job in Pharmatech to study the MFA program at the Tel Aviv University Film School to become a filmmaker. His short film The Lock made in 48 hours, won the Israeli competition (best film, best actress, and best director) and was screened in the international competition in Paris. His short film Abadai is now making its festival tour and has been accepted to many film festivals around the world.

Daniel Slabosky

Born in Israel, Daniel is based in Tel Aviv. He created original music and the soundtrack for the project.

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Daniel is a musician, a music producer, and a sound artist. His works range from electronic dance music to Indie-pop to experimental ambient, and audio installations. They’ve been adapted for stage, album productions and audio engineering in the studio, music for film or theatre, and audio configurations for museums and galleries. Daniel performed and took part in countless events and collaborations with different artists in the music and arts fields.

Daniel studied at the KonCon Sonology Department (the Hague), Musrara School of Contemporary Music and Digital Media (Jerusalem), BPM music school (Tel Aviv), and the School Of Visual Theater (Jerusalem).


-How are you?

-I’m well. Waiting for Messiah.

This is the world from which Maria came. Inhabited by ultra-Orthodox Jews, it’s almost completely closed off from the outside world – a parallel universe. Life here follows its own complex system of rules based on religion and tradition that defines the way people dress, what they eat and who they marry. Life here is mysterious but at times it’s also fun.

Photos by Yulia Mestechkin

The Book of Maria is the second joint project of Yulia and Evgeni. A trailer for their previous project Out of Mea Shearim can be viewd here.