*****All additional funds raised over our goal will go towards the many other post-production costs that we're going to encounter (color correction, music, audio mix, licensing fees, marketing, etc). You have through January 15 to be part of this important film. Please donate if you can, and continue to spread the word!*****
At sixteen, Anna Wexler left the strict Orthodox Jewish community in which she was raised. Five years later, she sets out to follow three modern Orthodox teenagers as they embark on a journey of spiritual discovery in Israel.
What is the film about?
Unorthodox is a feature documentary that follows three teenagers from the modern Orthodox community as they spend a post-high school year studying in Israel. Tzipi, an intellectually gifted young woman, travels with intentions of clarifying her problems with Orthodox interpretations of Jewish law. Jake, a musician, wants to follow the religion but doesn’t see how he can reconcile his faith with his professional ambitions. Chaim, a half-Dominican bad-boy, undertakes his year of study without thinking about the possibilities of religious growth; he goes to Israel because tuition is paid for by his rabbis. In addition to documentary cinematography shot in the US and Israel, Tzipi, Chaim and Jake film themselves throughout the year with video diaries, offering an incredibly vivid and intimate glimpse into their lives. Narration throughout the film weaves Anna’s own story—of leaving the modern Orthodox community—with that of the three subjects, lending a very personal glimpse into the world of Orthodox Judaism.
What inspired you to make the film?
At sixteen, Anna broke away from the strict Orthodox Jewish religion in which she was raised. After high school, most of her friends—who had also rebelled—went to spend a year studying in a seminary in Israel. This year in Israel is a rite of passage for most teenagers brought up in the American modern Orthodox Jewish community; nearly all high school graduates, both religious and non-religious, embark on this journey of spiritual renewal. When Anna’s friends returned to America one year later, nearly all of them had chosen to become extremely observant. Anna wanted to better understand why her friends had undergone this dramatic religious transformation.
Anna and Nadja met as undergraduates at MIT, where they were both studying neuroscience. Together they undertook the project of documenting a new generation of young Jews who were spending their post-high school year in Israel. With the help of a few mentors they taught themselves the basics of documentary filmmaking. The majority of production took place while they were full-time students at MIT.
What stage is the film currently in, and who has supported it so far?
Production is finished—the 2005-2006 year in Israel forms the bulk of the story, and the filmmakers followed up with Chaim, Jake and Tzipi four years later (2010) to see how the year in Israel had affected their lives. Over the years, Unorthodox has received eight grants and indirect support from WGBH, where Anna was selected as a 2007-2008 filmmaker-in-residence to work on the film. This past summer Anna cut down 150 hours of footage into an hour-and-a-half long “first draft” of the story.
What do you guys need the money for?
We need to hire a professional editor who can work with us to complete the story. The amount we’re aiming to raise is the bare minimum that we need—and we’ll also be contributing out of pocket as much as we can—to work with an editor. If we exceed our goal, any additional funds will go to other important (and expensive) post-production costs, such as music, color correction, and audio mix.
THIS IS THE LAST LEG OF THE PROJECT, AND WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT TO CROSS THE FINISH LINE. The film has been a labor of love over the last seven years, one to which we’ve devoted an enormous amount of resources. Why? Because we believe in the power of this story.
I’m in! How do I support the film?
Click “Back This Project!” on the upper right. You’ll be prompted to input the amount of your contribution, and you can select the Reward level that matches your contribution. It’s pretty straightforward, but feel free to contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions.
How does Kickstarter work?
Kickstarter works on an “all or nothing” basis: if we reach our goal by January 15, then we receive your contributions. If we don’t, then your credit cards are not charged and we don’t receive a cent.
Where can I learn more about the film?
Thanks to the amazing Hungarian folk ensemble Muzsikás for generously allowing us to use some of their music in this trailer!
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