Tova doesn’t believe in love, but that hasn’t stopped her from making over 550 matches. The film Do You Believe in Love shadows Israeli matchmaker Tova and her clients, capturing their stories and her no-nonsense approach to dating. But there’s a twist in this fairytale: Tova’s speciality is matchmaking persons with disabilities.
The documentary exposes the audience to relationships of all kinds, with the quest for companionship and compromise being the common denominator. Tova’s blunt personality, and witty humor, reveal her clients to be no better or worse off than anyone else trying to date.
Tova herself has muscular dystrophy, a hereditary condition marked by progressive weakening and wasting of the muscles. While the film shows her physical paralysis, which extends from the neck down, it also highlights that while she may need additional assistance with certain tasks, she still holds her capacity for empathy and compassion. With pragmatic insight, and a sharp tongue, Tova manages to both set expectations, and boost her clients’ confidence.
In tandem with the burgeoning love of Tova’s clients, director Dan Wasserman also shows Tova’s 43 year marriage to able-bodied Gabi Shamison. Gabi’s tender devotion to his wife suggests that love is more than fairytale endings. There is a point in the movie where both Tova and Gabi separately admit that they cannot live without each other. “There is no life without him.”
Ultimately the movie has a stunningly simple message: everyone has something to offer, and everyone is worthy of love. (In addition to the obvious that dating is hard, and you should find yourself a good wing-person!)
Alexander Freeman, Disability Advocate, Founder and President of OUTCAST PRODUCTIONS, a company dedicated to distributing thought-provoking films on disability, sexuality, identity, race and abuse for the web and on DVD, led a discussion after the film at the Boston Reel Abilities film festival with his girlfriend.
Alex agreed that the film is both hilarious and touching in its portrait of the feisty Israeli matchmaker and her broad range of clientele. However, he felt that Tova, while optimistic and an excellent example of the impact wheelchair users can have on others, let’s her muscular dystrophy define her.
Tova and her husband of 43 years, Gabi
Decide for yourself, you can watch the movie here: Do You Believe in Love, directed by Dan Wasserman.
Other movies to see, The Last Taboo, directed by Alexander Freeman. Which explores disabled relationships through the lens of gender and sexuality.
Scarlett O’Sullivan (none or she/her/herself) is another UConn Alum with a dual degree in Political Science and Communications. At UConn, Scarlett worked with Austin and Geena to pilot “Residence Assistants for Social Justice Education,” a program designed to facilitate action through dialogue, and bring campus-wide change to the socio-cultural issues specific to the UConn community. Scarlett currently works as a Senior Marketing Associate for a tech agency in Boston, MA. Connect with her here: Linkedin, Twitter.