Sisterhood Blog

Mainstream Distribution for Film Targeted at 'Women Only' Audiences

By Rebecca Honig Friedman

  • Print
  • Share Share

Orthodox filmmaker Robin Garbose is one happy camper right now. She has secured distribution for her first feature film in two mainstream movie theaters in Israel. But while any independent filmmaker would be happy to have her work released in theaters, the victory is especially sweet for Garbose, whose film, “A Light for Greytowers,” is intended for an audience of women only.

The Israeli theaters, the Cinematheques in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, have agreed to target the screenings of the film to a female-only audience, which Haaretz notes is “the first time these venues — considered strongholds of secularism — have made such a concession.”

“A Light for Greytowers,” a movie musical, was produced with a cast of mostly Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox Jewish females, many of whom were students at the L.A.-based Kol Neshama Performing Arts Conservatory, which Garbose founded (the program’s tagline is “Transforming Hollywood into Holywood…” — cute). Garbose is devoted to providing performance training and opportunities for women who, due to their adherence to Jewish laws of modesty, will not perform in front of men, and cast members participated with the stipulation that the film would be for women-only audiences.

Accordingly, after a women-only red-carpet opening in L.A., the movie has been shown mostly in private screenings at Jewish institutions in America (it did premiere in Israel at a film festival in Ashkelon). In fact, the film stirred some controversy last year when the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival rejected it because of the women-only audience stipulation. So getting the Jerusalem Cinematheque, which sponsored the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival, to show the film is a victory indeed.

There is one catch, however. While, as Haaretz reports, the Jerusalem theater’s ads for the film “include a disclaimer explaining that the Haredi actresses don’t want men to see them singing or dancing for reasons of modesty and ‘kindly request that only women and girls attend,’” the theater’s owner, Ilan de Vries, is adamant that he will not turn men or boys away. Which means there is a chance that a male could see the film.

But Garbose is not concerned: “Our obligation is to market the film for women only,” she told The Sisterhood via an email message. “If a man insists on seeing it, we cannot throw him out. Halacha places the onus on the man with Kol Isha — the religious prohibition against hearing women sing. However, it is my hope that men will respect that the film is for women and girls only.”

So Israeli males are on the honor system here. How honorable will they be?

On the one hand, I know if I were told I couldn’t see a movie because I am a woman I would probably be more likely to try and see it on principle. On the other hand, something tells me “honor” might not be the reason men and boys stay away from a Victorian-era movie musical about a Russian-Jewish orphan starring a bunch of modestly dressed females.

On a different note, the owner of the Cinemateque in the more secular city of Tel Aviv, Alon Garbuz, is eager for the chance to woo an ultra-Orthodox audience, telling Haaretz “that he indeed hopes that Haredim would enjoy the movie and consider to return to the Cinematheque for other screenings as well.”

For Garbose’s sake, I hope that Haredi rabbis don’t get wind of his intentions…


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Robin Garbose, Kol Isha, A Light for Greytowers

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.


Comments
Joe Mon. Dec 7, 2009

We have had women only performances for years here in London and my wife tells me they are very successful. As far as I know there have been no men demanding to attend !

ayala Tue. Dec 8, 2009

saw the film and it so intended to women, so I'm sure anyway it will not apeal to men...




Find us on Facebook!
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.