Sandi DuBowski’s landmark look at the lives of lesbian and gay ultra-orthodox Jews had its world premiere at Sundance in 2001. It screened the festival circuit extensively, including Berlin, Karlovy Vary, Chicago, Busan, Krakow, and LGBT festivals pretty much everywhere. STF presents the film upon its 15th anniversary, and includes a Q&A with DuBowski and several subjects from the film.
Filming over five years, DuBowski profiles the deep-seated conflict between sexuality and religion by focusing on the struggles faced by Hasidic and Orthodox Jews to reconcile queerness within the strict tenets of their faith. Offering an unprecedented look at a subculture veiled in secrecy – so much so, that some interview subjects here are presented in silhouette only – this insightful film proved fascinating in its consideration of how some have been able to balance seemingly incongruous elements of their lives. DuBowski tirelessly travelled with the film for several years, engaging in post-screening Q&As and panels, attempting to begin and keep a dialogue going about the issues it raised. Far from preaching to the converted, the doc is able to bridge a divide between LGBT and non-LGBT audiences, powerfully showing the deep-seated internal conflict that DuBowski’s protagonists face, and the need for re-examination and acceptance.