Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2019 4:14 pm 
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SARAH SMITH: BLACK HAT (2019) - SAN FRANCISCO JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL

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Forbidden sexuality in the Orthodox community

In this 14-min. film Shmuel (Adam Silver), a Hasidic Jew, sneaks off at night, his payot tucked into a watch cap, his black hat in a bag, to go to a nearby gay bar where he drinks and eventually makes out in the back room with an interested, attractive young black guy called Jay (Sebastian Velmont). In the excitement, he repeats something he has done even at shul: he forgets his black hat. Unknown to him, there is a sympathetic colleague, Jacob (Alan Lennick), sitting at the bar, who recognizes him, and returns the hat to him at shul the next day. The film dramatizes the fact that queerness isn't normally okay in the Hasidic world. Needless to say, it exists. This is just a sketch, with an atmosphere of the furtive, a lot of dithering for such a short film. For a full-fledged painting, see Haim Tabakman's stunning 2009 feature Eyes Wide Open about forbidden love between two gay butchers in the ultra-Orthodox community of Jerusalem, which ends tragically. There is a review-comment by Danielle Solzman on Sarah Smith's short from the viewpoint of an Orthodox person who identifies as transgender. She mentions the star-studded Orthodox lesbian tale Disobedience, with Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz, which we reviewed here last year.

Black Hat plays with the feature City of Joel, a documentary feature by Jesse Sweet about political conflict with the Kiryas Joel ultra-Orthodox community in Orange County, California.

Black Hat, 124 mins.., debuted at Toronto Sept. 2019 with its US premiere at Tribeca. fOURTEEN FESTIVALS LISTED ON ITS POSTER, AND IT HAS played at various Jewish film festivals; screened for this review-comment as part of the SFIFF.
[B]SFJFF showtimes fpr City of Joel:
Monday July 22, 2019 1:15 p.m. CineArts
Thursday July 25, 2019 3:45 p.m. Castro Theatre

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