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Bracknell Film Society Selection

NOVEMBER 2017


'MENASHE'

To book a ticket for this and forthcoming BFS screenings please contact the SHP Box Office on 01344 484123 or click the logo below to book via the SHP website.
Tickets £8.60, SHP members £7.00.
BFS members (BFS shows only) £6.60. You may have to show a BFS membership card. Concessions £7.60. SHP make an additional £0.70 charge when paying by credit card. Reserving a ticket by phone, expect to pay by cash at the box office 30 minutes prior to show time.

Tuesday 14th November 7.30pm

Certificate

AWARDS

THIS FILM RECEIVED ONE WIN AND SEVERAL NOMINATIONS.
TO SEE THE DETAILS
CLICK THE ICON BELOW


Special Preview Screening

Director: Joshua Z Weinstein, USA, 2017,
82 minutes. Yiddish with subtitles
Cast: Menashe Lustig, Yoel Falkowitz, Ruben Niborsk

Menashe - a kind, albeit hapless grocery store clerk - struggles through life after
his wife's death. Shot covertly in Brooklyn's Hasidic Jewish community with
winning performances by a largely non-professional cast,
this charming film offers valuable and authentic insight.

An engaging drama of intimate detail and considerable humanity GUARDIAN

We are delighted to bring this pre-release screening to Bracknell
With thanks to Vertigo Films

Plus short film

Frozen People
Director: Andrew John Sowerby, UK, 2015,
90 seconds

Trapped in their celluloid prison, the frozen people wait to be released from their inertia.


ARTICLE

For many Brooklynites, there’s a lingering curiosity surrounding Borough Park, an area south of the many hipster-dwelling enclaves that have cropped up in recent years. Despite being within jogging distance of the many cold brew and avocado smash-serving cafes, it remains refreshingly devoid of gentrification, for it’s home to an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, one of the largest in the US.

It’s an understandably secretive and self-contained part of the city, but in the charming new Yiddish language drama Menashe, director Joshua Z Weinstein offers us a rare glimpse inside, focusing on the life of one schlimazel (that means an “unlucky man”) and taking us with him through an alternately pedestrian and emotionally impactful week in his life.

After the death of his wife, Menashe (newcomer Menashe Lustig) is stuck in a difficult situation. Tradition dictates that he can’t raise a child without the help of a spouse, meaning his 10-year-old son is forced to live with family members until he remarries. He argues for an exception to be made and is granted a week to spend with his son alone, haphazardly performing parental tasks in an effort to prove to others that he’s worthy of more responsibility.

Despite a setup that suggests an influx of sugar, the Sundance breakout remains a stridently unsentimental and unwaveringly naturalistic look at a difficult situation. To an outsider, the rule that forbids a widower from raising a child alone feels like a cruel injustice and despite being made by a relative outsider (Weinstein is Jewish but not Orthodox), the film doesn’t linger on outrage. The script was loosely based on the real-life story of Lustig, who faced a similar experience, and there’s an authenticity that feels hard-earned. Weinstein, whose work has been within documentaries thus far, successfully embeds himself within a community that strives to exist outside the surrounding world. Given the film’s muted tone, it’s a deceptively underplayed achievement.

As well as providing a fascinating insight into the traditions and everyday life of the people within the area, Menashe is also a compelling character study. There’s a pleasingly tough-minded view of our protagonist; he challenges our sympathies, and most frustratingly, his often childlike actions serve as a justification for why he’s ill equipped to parent alone. Weinstein is never desperate for us to like Menashe and cleverly plays with his backstory in one brave, surprising scene about his late wife.

But we remain emotionally invested, perhaps as a result of this realism, eager to spend more time with Menashe and his son, the delicacy of their bond constantly being tested. Given how we might view a “modern father”, there’s something interesting about studying a man whose household duties have been restricted to the minimum suddenly being forced to play a bigger part. For someone with no real acting experience, Lustig excels with a humane performance, effortlessly inhabiting every scene of the film.

Menashe is a quiet triumph, pulling back when other films would go too far, delivering an engaging drama of intimate detail and considerable humanity.

Benjamin Lee - Guardian