Many of Israel’s ḥaredi communities frown on television, the Internet, and moviegoing, but even some of the most strictly observant make an exception for a relatively new cinematic genre: movies made by ḥaredi women, shown to exclusively female audiences, featuring all-female casts. To a certain brand of secular feminist filmmaker, this might sound like a utopia, but that is far from the intention of the filmmakers or the taste of their audiences. Moreover, these movies are commercial successes within their circumscribed audiences: tickets sell out almost immediately for most new releases. Diana Bahur Nir writes:
Z’khut ha-Shtikah, Hebrew for the right to remain silent, [was released in December] by the female ḥaredi filmmaker Dina Perlstein. The movie, described in the brochure as a “riveting and groundbreaking drama,” has been granted rabbinic approval. Shot in Israel and France, it follows the story of a French journalist who arrives in Israel on assignment and builds tight bonds with a family she was sent to cover. That is—with the women of the family.
Ḥaredi movies promote values that are compatible with the principles of Orthodox Judaism: respecting one’s parents, living morally, and sanctifying life. Some of these movies focus on Jewish identity and the connection to God as central themes.
Ḥaredi cinema has been around for a decade and a half, and it is evolving [constantly]. The change is evident in the topics it deals with, in the production quality, and in the boundaries it is willing to cross. Tsila Schneider is a founding mother of the genre. She is fifty-nine, a mother of eleven, and the wife of a rabbi who lives in Jerusalem. . . . Her first films, Fingerprint (2004) and Where Will I Go (2008), reflect an industry in its youth, but they carved out a path for the more mature, better-produced films that came after. Since then, Schneider has evolved and perhaps gone on to stretch the boundaries farther than her counterparts.
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