שלום דין אויף סאושעל מידיע:
This film, Menashe, will soon premiere at Sundance, and hopefully will be shown more broadly soon after
It is a poignant tale set within the Hasidic world, with scenes both humorous and heartbreaking, and presented even-handedly, without romanticizing the Hasidic lifestyle and without diminishing the humanity of those who live it. Truly a film the world has been waiting for.
I happened to have had a small role in helping it get made, and I want to say one really important thing about it:
An old gripe for those of us connected to the American Hasidic community is the utter cluelessness with which Hollywood has portrayed the Hasidic world: the easy stereotyping (Holy Rollers), the faux profundity (A Stranger Among Us), the cheap salaciousness (Price Above Rubies, Fading Gigolo).
Menashe, on the other hand, strove for a degree of authenticity and integrity that might not be appreciated by all viewers. It is the VERY FIRST film about American Hasidim in which every adult Hasidic character is played by a real-life current or former Hasid--including the film's lead actor, Menashe Lustig. It was also shot entirely in Yiddish (w/ English subtitles), and even the soundtrack is made up of Hasidic music. Few directors would undertake a project with the logistical difficulties and cultural immersion required for a Hasidic-themed film of this kind, and kudos/congrats to filmmaker joshua z weinstein for his commitment to what even I once thought an unachievable goal.
Of course, this comes on the heels of at least one other film that has come very close--Félix and Meira, starring Luzer Twersky and Melissa Weisz--and I know of several others currently in production that I have high hopes for. Personally, it makes me hopeful for a new world in which stories about the American Hasidic world (and the broader American Haredi world) will be told with complexity and nuance, and the silly days of A Stranger Among Us left far behind us
.I know it’s fun to watch the wheels come off the Trump car, until we remember we’re riding in the back! Then it’s not so funny anymore