Fucky Film Review!

Pork and Milk

Posted by Web Manager on January 3, 2009

Valerie Mrejen 2004

I’m not really into documentaries. This one was given to me by a friend – the same French friend who recommended I see “bubba.” She told me that the film wasn’t very interesting when she gave it to me. And she likes documentaries. So I didn’t watch it. But then she kept asking me if I had watched it, and seemed annoyed that I hadn’t. She needed to return it to the French Institute, she told me. What do you want from me lady? Then today I was hanging some laundry while she and her husband drove by on their way to the market. They saw me and I invited them up for a drink. I popped in the film while they were climbing the stairs as kind of a joke. But after they left I ended up watching it and I thought it was pretty interesting. It was strangely slow for a documentary, with a lot of shots of entrances to buildings and food being prepared, but the photography was good and it gave the film a pace that complimented its message — which was that for people who leave Israel’s ultra religious communities because they chose to lead a secular life, their freedom comes with the heavy and painful price of losing all contact with their families. One of the interviewees is the Israeli director of MY FATHER MY LORD. He seemed the least damaged. A chef who left home at 14 seemed the most damaged. Some of them hid their identities to protect their family’s reputations, saying that their siblings’ marriage prospects would suffer if their communities knew that a family member had left the fold. Another guy, also a filmmaker now, had grown up on a religious kibbutz. The kibbutz members could tell he was on his way out by the time he was a teenager, so they gave him the job of censoring the movies they watched. He would watch them first and use little post it notes to mark where on the reel he needed to put his hand in front of the lens or drop the sound. That’s how he got interested in film. Nearly of the interviewees reported feeling guilty, even as children, for having doubts about their faith, or interest in the secular world. One guy told of how he would go to secular neighborhoods in the middle of the night and take the daily newspaper from people’s trash, and then read it in a toilet stall in the yeshiva. After he was done he would rip the paper into little pieces and flush it down the toilet. He said it usually took longer to flush the paper down the toilet than it did to read it.

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