Menashe Lustig and Ruben Nyborg appear in "Menashe" by Joshua Weinstein, an official selection of the NEXT program at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. (Federica Valabrega / Sundance Institute)
Menashe Lustig and Ruben Nyborg appear in “Menashe” by Joshua Weinstein, an official selection of the NEXT program at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. (Federica Valabrega / Sundance Institute)

COM alum Joshua Weinstein’s (COM ’05) fiction film “Menashe” takes an intimate look into the lives of New York’s Hasidic Jewish community, to give an honest account of the real lives beyond the pop cultural stereotypes often imposed on the group. The all-Yiddish-language film was shot on location in New York’s Hasidim and features a cast made up entirely of Hasidic non-traditional actors. Many of the actors had never been or seen a film before. “They made up with enthusiasm and authenticity, what they lacked in formal training” Weinstein said.

The film follows Menashe (Menashe Lustig) a widower trying to make peace with his blue-collar supermarket job and maintaining custody of his son, as raising a child as a single father is culturally looked down upon. In the midst of the characters inner turmoil Weinstein seeks to show the Hasidic world as less foreign but as a world that an audience can identify with. “Yes, being a Hasid can be about a certain seriousness and quiet. But there’s also a lot of fun and a lot of camaraderie, the kinds of things we all long for” Weinstein explains.

The film premieres at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival with five showings. It will also premiere at the 67th Berlinale Film Festival in February 2017.

Written by: Tatiana M.R. Johnson

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