‘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!
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • 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.