The MovieMaker Sundance Survey 2017: The Scoop on 19 Films Playing Park City at the 33rd Festival

Menashe (NEXT)

Who: Joshua Z Weinstein, director and co-writer

Logline: Within Brooklyn’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community, a widower battles for custody of his son. A tender drama performed entirely in Yiddish, the film intimately explores the nature of faith and the price of parenthood.

Our crew size was: 35

Our camera, lenses and lighting package were: Canon C300, vintage lenses, lots of paper lanterns with even more duvetyne.

The first spark of an idea for this movie came: after a difficult summer of spending months working on documentaries about terminally ill patients. While on location in South Africa I took a few days off and went hiking in the Drakensberg mountains, a geography that man has lived in for over 100,000 years. I knew that when I returned to Brooklyn that I would make a film that would fill me with the same wonders as this terrain. On the top of the trail I wrote a few ideas for films I wanted to make. Menashe was one of them.

My favorite scene (or shot) in the film is: a scene with a beggar that we shot with a 400mm lens. Random pedestrians gave the beggar money. Later we donated the $12 that was contributed.

Joshua Z Weinstein

Influences or references on this film were: Bicycle Thieves by Vittorio De Sica and the Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray. Incredible neorealistic films.

A darling I had to kill along the way was: an original opening of the film that took place in a slaughter house. This scene was later dropped because we were unable to get the location. Getting ultra-Orthodox actors and authentic locations was extremely challenging, but as long as we were flexible we were able to get everything we wanted.

When I heard we got into Sundance I: called my parents but the phone went to voicemail. It was late and they were already sleeping.

My favorite film festival moment in my life so far is: a secret screening of my first documentary Flying On One Engine at True/False. I was 23 and happy anyone would pay for my flight and hotel to attend their festival.

My favorite moviemaker of all time is: Hitchcock: late career, Technicolor.

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1 Comment

  1. Martin M

    January 19, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    After reading a couple articles in this new issue, I am becoming convinced I should allocate some of my budget for VFX! I am writing and directing a film about a cyber relationship between a man and a woman across two different galaxies, though one is unsure which lives on Earth, and I’m struggling with transitional scenes across the Milky Way.

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