by Raphael Ahren
An American film that was rejected at last year’s Jerusalem Film Festival because the Orthodox filmmaker demanded that it be screened exclusively in front of women will make its Israel premiere at next week’s Jewish Eye World Jewish Film Festival in Ashkelon.
The musical, “A Light for Greytowers,” was made by a group of Orthodox women who didn’t want men to see them dancing or singing out of modesty. The film was originally scheduled to be shown at the Jerusalem Cinematheque last December but festival organizers canceled after they couldn’t agree with the filmmaker over screening arrangements. “The ‘women-only’ issue definitely scared off other festivals interested in including the film,” said Los Angeles-based Robin Garbose, adding the Ashkelon festival organizers contacted her after reading about it. “Upon submission, I clearly stated the film must be marketed to women only,” she continued, saying the organizers almost got cold feet after they didn’t seem to find a suitable venue for the screening. Advertisement
“We almost saw a repeat of the Jerusalem Film Festival disaster,” she said, but after pleading with festival director Gady Castel the screening was finalized. “He was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to get an audience, but then he was able to book some large groups,” said Garbose, who arrived in Israel yesterday.
“A Light for Greytowers,” which the Los Angeles Times called “entertaining and uplifting,” tells the Victorian-era saga of a Russian-Jewish girl who was abandoned to an English orphanage and left at the mercy of its tyrannical matron. According to Garbose, the film was watched by nearly 30,000 women at screenings in Orthodox communities in the U.S., Britain and The Netherlands.