CCFF: Menashe brings Yiddish back to the big screen

Menashe Lustig and Ruben Niborski in MENASHE. Photo by Federica Valabrega, courtesy of A24

Menashe brings Yiddish back to the big screen for the first time in some 60-70 years.

Directed by Joshua Z Weinstein, this is his first narrative feature.  The screenplay was written by Weinstein, Alex Lipschultz, and Musa Syeed.

Starring Menashe Lustig, the film is loosely inspired by his life.  Given that the film is in Yiddish with English subtitles, it will be interesting to see what will happen come awards season and whether it will be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Menashe works at the grocery store.  He’s been struggling since the death of his wife, Leah, and his brother-in-law adopts their son, Rieven.  Because of the way things work in his ultra-Orthodox Chasidic community, children need to be in a two-parent home or they get kicked out of school.  It’s not right but that’s just the way it is.  Heartbroken, all Menashe can do is go on dates even if he’s not up to it.  The rabbi gives him special permission to be with his son during the week preceding Leah’s memorial.  If Menashe is unable to prove himself to those around him, it won’t sit well for finding respect in the community.

The film premiered at Sundance earlier this year.  A24 will open Menashe in NY/LA on July 28th.  Menashe will open in Chicago on August 4.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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