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.
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.