Women’s Balcony: Darkly Humorous Critique of Patriarchy from Israel (Women in Film)

A mishap at a Jerusalem synagogue causes a major rift in a devout community, in the poignant Israeli film, The Women’s Balcony, a darkly humorous feminist critique of rigid patriarchal power.

What begins as a joyous celebration turns into disaster, when a women’s balcony at an Orthodox synagogue collapses during a bar mitzvah party, injuring a number of people and leaving the senior rabbi in a state of shock.

Stepping in to assume authority in the face of crisis, the young and charismatic Rabbi David (Avraham Aviv Alush) first appears as a savior. But his fundamentalist ways divide the close-knit Sephardic congregation along gender lines, as the self-righteous interloper insists that the accident is a divine warning against female non-conformity.

A battle of the sexes ensues, threatening to tear apart families and friends, including husband- and-wife congregational stalwarts Zion and Ettie (Igal Naor and Evelin Hagoel, who lead a fine ensemble cast).

Infused with characters and big-hearted humor, The Women’s Balcony is made by first-time filmmaker Emil Ben Shimon and screenwriter Shlomit Nechama, who fashion a compassionate portrait of modern Orthodoxy, where unity and love are rekindled by a rebellious and progressive spirit.

The film was nominated for five Ohir Awards (the Israeli Oscar), including Best Supporting Actor and Actress (Avraham Aviv Alush and Orna Banai).

Credits:

Israel

Running time: 96 minutes