"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.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Divorce and the Haredi Community

Family Matters, directed by Noa Roth, is an intimate and fascinating documentary film that tells the story of the filmmaker's growing up, her family, how the family was ripped apart when her mother chose to take her children and leave her husband and haredi (ultra-orthodox) community behind.  Her mother, Yehudit Rotem, was a haredi woman, the mother of seven children, who today is a distinguished author.  

The mother is adamant not to appear together in the film with her ex-husband because of the difficult times that she endured at his hands.  For example, as a young mother she wanted to study and he literally burned her books.  She talks about her emotional and spiritual crisis.  She picked herself up, took her six daughters and moved to a smaller apartment, removing them from that world.  

Noa, on the other hand, although she has no intention of becoming haredi, says her mother ripped her children away from their father and their community.  Today, via the making of this film, Noa is trying to heal a deep wound that she feels still exists within her family.  Her mother and father have not spoken since the divorce, and her oldest sister, Tami, who was a teenager at the time of the divorce, doesn't speak to her father.  

This film provides an intimate glimpse into the tragedy of one family and also into the haredi world that the mother left behind.  It includes fragments from the mother's exquisite writings, using them as a mirror of that world. 

Family Matters (documentary, 66 minutes), won the Audience Award at DocAviv 2015, and is available from Go2Films.

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