A widower in his late thirties working in a grocery store, Menashe leads a hapless life in Brooklyn. As a single father and a Hasidic Jew, Menashe cannot live under the same roof as his 10-year-old son, Rieven, until he remarries. In the meantime, Menashe’s son is raised by his brother-in-law, Eizik. Although a fervent follower of Rabbi Yaakov, Menashe cannot help but break the strict norms imposed by his religious community. Although he has no desire to find a new wife, he will do anything in his power to get the custody of his son. Being somewhat messy and disorganised, Menashe struggles to lead a stable life but decides that he needs to change things. The rabbi accepts that Rieven spends a week at Menashe’s house, so the widower has to prove himself worthy of raising his son by himself.
Mostly shot in Yiddish and loosely-based on the real-life story of Menashe Lustig, playing himself in this neorealist feature film, Menashe is a truly unique gem. A non-observant Jew himself, documentarian Joshua Z. Weinstein wanted to capture the authentic life of the Hasidic Jews living in Borough Park, NYC, a community difficult to penetrate and engage with, but that Weinstein knew from visits to relatives when he was young. Portrayed with a lot of naturality and authenticity by a small cast, mostly non-professional actors, this feature breaks stereotypes, yet always respectfully. A beautiful film about embracing our differences and being respected for who we are in a world where it is easy to be marginalised.
2017: Jury Prize – Deauville Film Festival
2017: Lipscomb Ecumenical Prize – Nashville Film Festival
2017: National Board of Review. NBR Top 10 Independent Films.
2017: Terry Porter Visionary Award – Sarasota Film Festival
Runtime: 82 min
Direction: Joshua Z Weinstein
Screenplay: Alex Lipschultz, Musa Syeed, Joshua Z Weinstein
Cinematography: Yoni Brook, Joshua Z Weinstein
OST: Aaron Martin, Dag Rosenqvist
Cast: Menashe Lustig, Ruben Niborski, Yoel Weisshaus
Subtitles: Pascale Trencia
Contact: Mongrel Media