Haaretz: Tel Aviv Cinematheque tries to bar men from screening of film by ultra-Orthodox director

Cinematheque program says the movie creators ‘politely request that only women and girls attend the screening.’

By Tsafi Saar

Cinematheque Tel Aviv attempted to prevent men from attending screenings of the movie “The Heart that Sings,” according to a man who attempted to purchase a ticket to the film Sunday.

Dr. Yosef Algazi said the woman working at the box office told him the movie was for women only. According to the Cinematheque’s description of the movie in its program that came out in early December: “the creators of the movie, ultra-Orthodox women and actors, who cannot, according to Jewish law, sing and dance in front of men, politely request that only women and girls attend the screening.”

Algazi said that only when he protested angrily and when the people around him heard the exchange, did the ticket seller change her mind and state that it was “not a prohibition but a request.” Eventually, Algazi purchased a ticket.

“When the lights went down, a message appeared on the screen that the movie was for women only,” Algazi said, adding that there were only six other men in the theater.

“The Heart that Sings” is a musical directed by Robin Garbose, who is Orthodox. The plot takes place in a summer camp for Jewish girls in New York in the 1950s. It was shown this month as part of the Jewish Film Festival in Jerusalem and was presented at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque three times.

Algazi, a historian and veteran leftist activist, said there were no male actors among the film’s cast. “Ten years ago this would not have happened, either in Israel or the United States,” he said, adding that both Jewish and Christian religious reactionism was increasing in the United States.

The Cinematheque’s director, Alon Garbuz, said he had instructed staff to say that the movie was for women only, but that people who insisted could purchase a ticket. He said he “explained to the film’s creator, who wanted to restrict the audience to women only, that he could not prevent men from coming in and she understood this.”

Garbuz said the request to men not to see the movie is not a problem “because it is not coercion, but rather a request. It shows that we are tolerant to everyone.”