The Arty Semite

Caught in a Sad Romance

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share
Courtesy DOC NYC

Filmmaker Josh Freed is willing to do a lot for the sake of his art, including casting himself in a negative light. His debut documentary, “Five Weddings and a Felony,” which premieres November 6 at the DOC NYC film festival, is Freed’s personal journey as a Jewish 28-year-old New York guy, trying to figure out the dance of modern romance.

As one sees in the movie, Freed is, indeed, quite a dancer — both literally, as he cuts a rug with many a wedding date, and figuratively, as he maneuvers around and away from commitment. “This film is about me making some bad decisions about relationships because of fear and insecurity,” he admits.

It wasn’t until the beginning of 2010, when Freed was editing the footage he had shot of his life and loves over four years, that he saw its narrative and unifying theme. “It’s a first person film, and I didn’t know what the story would be or how my character would end up coming across. But in this kind of film, the main character — me — has no antagonist but himself. There was no going back. The story warranted my making myself not the most sympathetic character,” he said.

Still, Freed is not sure everyone will see him in a negative light. “I expect disagreement about just how much of a bad guy I really am,” he jested.

Starting in 2006 using a Flip cam, Freed was initially trying to make a film to impress his then-girlfriend. The relationship and film project both fizzled, and it wasn’t until producer David Schisgall backed his efforts in 2009 that Freed went home to Chicago to attend and film the weddings of childhood friends that would ultimately become the central pieces of “Five Weddings and a Felony.”

A graduate of Columbia University’s film program, Freed did production work on projects by Schisgall and PBS while filming the documentary. Though he is focused now on getting his film included in other festivals, and hopefully selling it, he is also thinking about his next project. “I need a paying job in editing or producing, but I can also see myself trying my hand at writing a script. A family dramedy — I have lots of good material for that,” he said.

Family is much on Freed’s mind these days as he is getting set to enjoy his film’s premiere. His father, who is seen in the film receiving a diagnosis of a rare disease, took a sudden turn for the worse two weeks ago and died on October 27. Freed will get up from shiva in Chicago and fly to the screening at the IFC Center.

Watch a trailer for ‘Five Weddings and a Felony’:


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Renee Ghert Zand, PBS, Five Weddings and a Felony, David Schisgall, Josh Freed, Film, Documentary, DOC NYC, Columbia University

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.




Find us on Facebook!
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • 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.