Jewboy: Tony Krawitz’ Coming of Age Tale in Australia Hassidic Community

An absorbing character study, set in the Sydney Hasidic community, Jewboy, made by the Australian writer-director Tony Krawitz, is a coming-of-age tale about a young rabbi who questions not only his religion but his whole value system and place in the world.

World-premiering at the 2005 Cannes Film Fest (Certain Regard section), Jewboy may be the shortest feature in this year’s edition–less than one hour long (the kind of length that distributors and exhibitors usually avoid).

This is the second work by Krawitz to be shown in Cannes Fest, after Unit#52, which played in the 2003 edition in Directors Fortnight.

The protagonist is Uri (Ewen Leslie), the 23 year old son of a respected rabbi, about to be buried in the holy land of Israel. After going through all the formal rituals (including some bizarre ones as pouring sand on his father’s face), he utters, “please forgive me father for what I am about to do.”

It turns out Yuri is questioning the most sacred tenets of the Jewish tradition, such as the very existence of God.  His conservative grandmother, Minnie (Naomi Watson), and uncle Isaac (Nicholas Eadie), disapprove of Yuri’ conduct, but undeterred he breaks all kinds of taboos.

Yuri courts  and touches Rivka (Saskia Burmeister), his would be wife, disregarding Hasidic laws, which forbid any physical contact prior to marriage. Then, there is another woman who attracts him, Sarita (Leah Vandenberg), a Fijian-Indian who works at a car wash.  Vefore long, he is frequenting strip clubs and sleazy porn stores.

Krawitz  should be commended for tackling challenging material in bold and original yet subtle ways, never indulging in voyeurism or sensationalism.


Running time: 54 minutes



Produced by Liz Watts, Libby Sharpe.

Directed, written by Tony Krawitz.

Cinematography, Greig Fraser

Editor, Jane Moran

Music, Decoder Ring

Production designer, Melinda Doring

Sound, Mark Blackwell