"World Cinema: Israel"

My book, "World Cinema: Israel" (originally published in 1996) is available from Amazon on "Kindle", with an in-depth chapter comparing and analyzing internationally acclaimed Israeli films up to 2010.

Want to see some of the best films of recent years? Just scroll down to "best films" to find listings of my recommendations.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Films About the World of Ultra-Orthdodox Judaism

I have written about a number of films dealing with the haredi (ultra-orthodox) world .  Just recently, I wrote about Fill the Void (Rama Burshtein) and God's Neighbors (Meni Yaesh).  Older dramatic films include: Kadosh (Amos Gitai), Ushpizin (Gidi Dar),  Secrets (Avi Nesher), Eyes Wide Open (Haim Tabakman).  A landmark documentary series is  Haredim: The Ultra-Orthodox Community in Israel, a trilogy by Ron Ofer and Yochai Hakak, which includes Religion.com and Haredot: The Rabbi's Daughter and the Midwife. 

Some of the dramatic films look at the haredi community critically, some poking fun, and only Fill the Void looks at the community in a loving and positive light.  The documentary trilogy is more objective in its portrayal, offering an inside glimpse at real people and real dilemmas.  From Ron Ofer, the filmmaker of the documentary trilogy, comes another documentary -- a very personal and very hard-hitting film about  life in the haredi community -- from a totally different perspective and on a totally surprising subject.  

Pursued (Menachem Roth and Ron Ofer, documentary, 2012) offers a compelling story of a man's coming to terms as an adult with the sexual abuse that he experienced as a student in a haredi yeshiva. 

Menachem Roth grew up within the haredi  community, studying in a yeshiva, until he decided to turn his back on it, cut his payes and travel abroad.  Now, 35 years-old, he is obsessed with his past and he returns to Israel from Germany where he had been living, in order to confront the demons of his previous  life as a yeshiva bocher  in the haredi community.  

First stop back in Israel, he visits his loving and charming Bubby. Then he sets out to create a confrontation with the young man who, according to Roth, "ruined his life."  Roth was abused sexually when he was 14 years-old, living in a yeshiva boarding school.  Today, more than 20 years later, the man who abused him  is a respected rabbi, married, father of 15.  This is a film which documents their confrontation.

Pursued is available from Ruth Diskin Films

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