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BIMI in collaboration with the Birkbeck Gender & Sexuality Group (BiGS) presents: Eyes Wide Open

Venue: Birkbeck 43 Gordon Square

Eyes Wide Open

Haim Tabakman, Israel, 2009, 91 minutes


Eyes Wide Open is Tabakman's first film. It's set in Mea She'arim, a long-established Orthodox neighbourhood of Jerusalem. Secular Israel is barely glimpsed.

Aaron (Zohar Strauss) is a butcher, a husband and a father. The film is fascinated by flesh. Into his shop, sheltering from a storm, strays Ezri (Ran Danker). It's initially unclear what has brought the younger man to Aaron's shop other than the rain. He remains and becomes Aaron's apprentice. He also becomes Aaron's lover.

Orthodox Judaism is now likely to urge compassion and understanding in dealing with homosexual Jews. However, unlike Reform Judaism, it maintains a ban on homosexual activity. The film is scrupulously even-handed. Aaron tells his rabbi that his affair with Ezri makes him feel alive in a way he has not felt before. Yet the film also shows us that he is violating the trust of Rivka, his wife (Ravit Rozen). We're invited to condemn the vigilante zealots who try to terrorize Ezri into leaving, but not Orthodox Judaism per se. Aaron remains deeply committed to his faith even when he's at odds with it.

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