Finding the Real Mensch in Menashe
Movies: Interview with Joshua Z. Weinstein
A documentary filmmaker explores the closed world of New York's Hasidic community in his first narrative feature shot entirely in Yiddish with amateur actors and a leading man who'd never set foot in a cinema
By Katherine Monk
There are approximately 330,000 Hasidic and Ultra-Orthodox Jews living in New York City, yet, the community remains largely closed and somewhat mysterious to outsiders. Filmmaker Joshua Z. Weinstein wanted to know more, so he focused his documentary skills on the world at his doorstep in the boroughs and neighbourhoods of his native New York City.
The result is Menashe, a narrative feature shot entirely in Yiddish with an amateur cast of community members — some of whom had never set foot in a theatre until the film’s debut at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Weinstein says the experience was rich and memorable, but it’s not something he’ll do again — if only because as a director, he’d like ...