Trembling Before G-D 2009 NR CC

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(46) IMDb 7.2/10

Built around intimately-told personal stories of Hasidic and Orthodox Jews who are gay or lesbian.

Dr. Yaakov Meir Weil, David
1 hour 25 minutes

Trembling Before G-D

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Trembling Before G-d

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Product Details

Genres Documentary
Director Sandi Simcha Dubowski
Starring Dr. Yaakov Meir Weil, David
Supporting actors Nathan Lopes Cardozo, Naomi Mark, Shlomo Riskin, Yaakov Meir Weil
Studio Pretty Pictures
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Rental rights 3-day viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

The second disc contains a wealth of extras that really enhance the documentary.
Some within these religious communities hold the antiquated belief that one's sexual orientation can be changed or sublimated.
This film was jaw-droppingly, mind-bendingly, blood-turn-to-ice-in-your-veins horrifying.
Robert Carlberg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 27, 2003
Format: DVD
Winner of the Teddy Award of the 2001 Berlin Film festival and a 2001 Selection of the Sundance Film festival, this is a beautifully realized documentary that is devoted to the stories of those who are gay and lesbian within the Jewish Orthodox and Hasidic communities. Their stories and their struggles break the viewer's heart. It shows the lengths that people will go to try to reconcile their Jewish faith with its strictures regarding homosexuality and still remain a member of that religious community. Some of the stories are very sad, but all are, nonetheless, enlightening. People of all faiths should make it a point to see this film, because reconciliation of faith with one's sexual orientation is not limited to those who profess Judaism. It is a question with which Catholics, as well as those of other faiths, grapple.
Masterfully directed by Sandi Simcha Dubowski, the film boasts a wonderful, joyous soundtrack by John Zorn that conjures up the biblical underpinnings and zest of the Jewish faith. The filming of people behind a white screen so that they appear as dark silhouettes against a light backdrop, at times, to show moments in the religious life of those of the Jewish faith is also striking and very powerful, as well as aesthetically pleasing. This was done because so many who participated in this film refused to appear on screen, so as to avoid ostracism within their respective communities. The final result is visually mesmerizing.
It took the director six years to get enough people who dared to speak out on film about this issue. Some of them are out of the closet, but a number of them are not. Some of them, mostly women, are, in fact, married to a member of the opposite sex, despite their sexual orientation, mostly quite unhappily.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Ingalls on December 5, 2004
Format: DVD
Any documentary dealing with the subject of homosexuality is in danger of falling into the trap of advocacy for either side, thereby ignoring or demonizing the thinking and the experience of the opposing side. Typically, gays are portrayed as vulgar and shallow hedonists and religious people are portrayed as ignorant and intolerant rubes. This film avoids that trap entirely. It doesn't editorialize. It doesn't try to tie up loose ends. It has respect for the religious tradition that has led to the dilemna that the gay individuals are experiencing. It simply uses the camera as an objective eye into the lives of people we might never get to know. The effect of this approach is that we are allowed to see on our own the tradition and the individuals. As a result, the humanity of everyone is preserved and the value of the tradition is preserved. As a christian, I found the footage of orthodox culture fascinating. Scenes of yeshivas and orthodox weddings were totally new to me. This was a portrayal of a world I knew almost nothing about. Leave your knee-jerk reactions behind when you view this film and you will have your experience broadened.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Robert Stribley on January 20, 2004
Format: DVD
Sandi Simcha Dubowski has made a splendid, thoughtful documentary that captures perfectly the varying responses of individuals caught between the orientation they feel naturally aligned with and the belief system that omits or even condemns them: what is it like to be gay or lesbian who is an Orthodox or Hasidic Jew? Is there room for them in their own religion?
No single point of view is proffered as the correct one; instead each person's particular difficulties are laid out for our consideration. Some remain sympathetic to their faith; some have all but abandoned it.
As a former fundamentalist Christian, I identified with the inner struggle these people endured - the sometimes awful tension between what one has been raised to believe and what one's heart has come to intrinsically feel. And having known a few gays within fundamentalism, too, I have to wonder, how do they stay? What must their struggle be like?
Congratulations Mr. Dubowski on a fine and worthy effort.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Raymond Weil on September 7, 2004
Format: DVD
No one has yet commented on the groundbreaking aspects of this film as a contribution to the documentary genre. Perhaps the subject matter was so compelling that people forgot that its rhetorical and structural elements were not invented ab nihilo, but are part of a very long and esteemed tradition. This film added extensively to the tradition that believes documentaries can change the world, not just bear witness to it.

I would also hope that viewers realize that this is not the last or only film on this topic, but one of the first, and that a flawed film is better by far than no film at all. It didn't have a Hollywood Ending especially for the individuals it portrayed who hoped it might be a catalyst for such an outcome - especially David. It may not satisfy everyone because it wasn't "fair and balanced", because it didn't attempt to be encyclopedic, because it couldn't hope to be unbiased except with respect to the empathy and sincerity it treated the people who appeared in it. There is no shanda (shame) in having a point of view. Yet how can you offer your work as Tikkun Olam when a community doesn't think there's anything in their life on the issue of sexuality and sexual identity that needs repairing? The isolated negative reactions of the conservative voices in the film and beyond are predictable because someone outside of their recognized authority structure is setting the agenda, exposing a neglected and painful issue, and they are forced to react. What is truly amazing is how the orthodox community's curiosity and sense of support for viewing the film and discussing it overcame their natural reticence and shame, and their leaders' sense that the time had come to make this very private issue a topic of public debate.
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