Jewish Federation film fest to conclude with “The Women’s Balcony”

By: Reporter staff

The Jewish Federation of Greater Binghamton’s 2017 Jewish International Film Fest will conclude with the film “The Women’s Balcony” on Sunday, October 8, at 7 pm, at the Jewish Community Center, 500 Clubhouse Rd., Vestal. Tickets will cost $10. To purchase tickets in advance or for more information, call 724-2332.
Following the screening, a discussion of the film will be led by Dr. Dora Polachek, a member of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, and director of undergraduate studies at Binghamton University. “The Women’s Balcony is a box office hit for many reasons,” she noted. “It offers us a clear sighted vision of how a close-knit community whose members are all on the same page, religion-wise, can be torn apart when a charismatic outsider with different religious values comes into their lives and starts to take control.”
Emil Ben-Shimon and Shlomit Nehama’s dramatic comedy “The Women’s Balcony” offers a story about community and tradition, and the power of women to keep them together despite modern extremism.
Called a “rousing, good-hearted tale about women speaking truth to patriarchal power,” the Israeli film focuses on a gender rift in a devout Orthodox community in Jerusalem caused by an accident during a bar mitzvah celebration. When the women’s balcony in an Orthodox synagogue collapses, leaving the rabbi’s wife in a coma and the rabbi in shock, the congregation falls into crisis.
Though a young rabbi appears to be a savior after the accident, he soon begins forcing his fundamentalism and attempts to seize control. This tests the women’s friendships and divides the community’s women and men.
Added Polachek, “The film sparkles with its humor, while dazzling us with its thoughtful reflections on how particular religious practices define different Jewish communities. What I’ve said may make the film sound very cerebral, but I assure you that it’s highly entertaining. You will laugh (a lot), maybe cry ( a little) and you will surely come away with lots to reflect upon. I encourage everyone to come and see this film – you won’t be disappointed. And I look forward to your questions and insights during the discussion I will lead after the film!”
“To those who have already seen the movie, seeing it a second time may provide insights to further enhance the discussion,” said Sima Auerbach, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Binghamton.
The movie features several veterans of Israeli cinema, including Orna Banai (“This is Sodom”), Itzik Cohen (“A Matter of Size”), Igal Naor (“Munich,” “Rendition,” “The Infidel”) and Evelin Hagoel (“Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem”), as well as musicians Einat Sarouf and Aviv Alush, and comedienne Yafit Asulin.
The film is in Hebrew with English subtitles.
Community members are welcome to bring their own chair if they wish.