Eyes Wide Open (Eynaim Pekukhot) directed by Haim Tabakman opens the viewers eyes, with insight, to see into the attitudes and complications of being gay within the ultra-Orthodox community in contemporary Jerusalem. There is no possible hiding from the eyes of this community or from ones’ family. No light ever enters this film which could guide a path to acceptance which includes remaining within the community. The attitude towards gayness in this community is not identical with the attitude among ultra-right wing Christians. In the ultra-orthodox community, gayness is not a “sin” but an “evil urge” which should be resisted.
This fine point does not help much at all to relieve an individual’s suffering , especially when you consider how any scandal, shame or any myriad of other problems can have a terrible effect on the future acceptance and happiness of a person’s innocent children and other family members within the ultra-orthodox community.
In Jewish tradition, lesbians are not even mentioned as a possibility, (and therefore sexual relationships between women are not prohibited), and this film makes very little reference to women at all. We meet a long-suffering, kind wife and a young women marrying a man she does not love. We see the face of the extremists of this community and the kindness and caring of others, including the Rabbi.
This is a strong, quiet and painful film, well acted and well made, starring Zohar Strauss and Ran Danker.
In an interview, Haim Tabakman is quoted as saying, “The film can be part of the evolution in the orthodox world”.
Let’s hope so.
This will be shown at the Jewish Film Festival on January 19 (at the Manhattan JCC) and January 23rd (at the Walter Reade Theater). See schedule in my previous post and buy tickets in advance.