‘Cutting Film’ Takes Top Prize

By Sara Trappler Spielman

Published May 06, 2009, issue of May 15, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A documentary exploring circumcision won the prize for best New York documentary April 30 at the Tribeca Film Festival Awards Ceremony, held at the Union Square Ballroom.

PHILIP TOUITOU

Celebrity chef and talk show host Rachael Ray presented the award to filmmaker Danae Elon for “Partly Private,” which had its world premiere at the festival.

In her film, Elon, who was born in Israel and now lives in New York, grapples with the debate over whether to circumcise her sons. While expecting her first boy and navigating the maze of baby products, Elon stumbles upon a group opposed to circumcision.

Elon never had given the issue much thought, and she is suddenly confronted with a choice that runs deeper than skin. Her husband, a French Jew from Algeria, has family memories of traditional brit milahs, while Elon and her secular Israeli parents feel no such connection.

“There were no circumcisions in my family album,” Elon says in the film. “My father boycotted anything remotely religious.”

Agreeing to a makeshift Jewish ceremony on the couple’s dining room table, Elon later regrets her decision and begins to research the reasons that people choose to circumcise. When she becomes pregnant again, she travels to Italy, Turkey, England and Israel to find clarity and meaning behind this tradition by tracing its various religious and cultural roots.

From a “Sex and the City” tour in New York City (where participants admit to preferring circumcised men) to an anti-circ march in Washington, where she meets men who have used devices to restore their foreskins, Elon sees it all. Yet she must confront her husband’s strong desire to circumcise.

“Our pick is a film that explores the relevance of tradition in today’s world,” Ray said at the ceremony, on behalf of fellow jurors Jon Robin Baitz, Mary Boone, Marc Ecko and Douglas Keeve.

Elon said she was “overwhelmed and surprised” to receive the award.

“It is difficult to carry into the world a film with a personal storyline,” Elon said in a press release. “The award is a real validation that the story is universal and that it will hopefully touch people regardless of their take on circumcision.”

Elon’s first feature documentary, “Another Road Home,” dealt with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and premiered at the 2004 Tribeca festival.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Yeshiva University's lawyer wanted to know why the dozens of former schoolboys now suing over a sexual abuse cover-up didn't sue decades ago. Read the judge's striking response here.
  • It’s over. The tyranny of the straight-haired, button nosed, tan-skinned girl has ended. Jewesses rejoice!
  • It's really, really, really hard to get kicked out of Hebrew school these days.
  • "If Netanyahu re-opens the settlement floodgates, he will recklessly bolster the argument of Hamas that the only language Israel understands is violence."
  • Would an ultra-Orthodox leader do a better job of running the Met Council?
  • So, who won the war — Israel or Hamas?
  • 300 Holocaust survivors spoke out against Israel. Did they play right into Hitler's hands?
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen. http://jd.fo/d4unE
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.