Archives / 2006 Sundance Film Festival

Jewboy

Director: Tony Krawitz

Screenwriters: Tony Krawitz

Institute History

  • 2006 Sundance Film Festival

Description

The first frames of Jewboy linger in extreme close-up on the fingernails and waxen limbs of a corpse, and on the grieving faces of the men who carefully wash it clean, signaling a world infused with exacting ritual and insular collectivity. A Hasidic rabbi has died, and his son, Yuri, a religious student in Jerusalem, has come home to Sydney to bury him. The community elders expect him to resume seminary and complete his orthodox rabbinical training, but Yuri's grief ignites a personal rebellion—a compulsion to contest tradition and step beyond its sacred threshold. Despondent, hostile, yet innocently curious about profane life, he lands a job as a taxi driver, spurns his grandmother by moving to his own place, and even pursues a beautiful, non-Jewish coworker—albeit clumsily. Yet in each of these new and transgressive situations, an ingrained duty to his faith subtly tugs at Yuri's conscience, creating palpable inner turmoil.

Immensely talented first-time feature director Tony Krawitz wields a restless camera that intimately mirrors Yuri's anxious longing, never shying from the emotional intensity of his characters. He keenly maximizes every moment, relishing the meaning and sensuality latent in tiny gestures and silent glances. Newcomer Ewen Leslie is spellbinding as a torturously restrained soul who—like young people everywhere—defiantly turns his back on the familiar to find himself.

— Caroline Libresco

Screening Details

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