“Menashe” ATLFF Red Carpet Interview

Menashe ATLFF Red Carpet

Menashe ATLFF Red Carpet

Photo courtesy of Mike McKinney

Menashe was the closing night film at the 2017 Atlanta Film Festival. Shown in conjunction with the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, the movie is the first feature-length film in over sixty years to be completely in the Yiddish language.  The film is about a Brooklyn ultra-orthodox widower, Menashe (Menashe Lustig) who due to his faith has had to let his sister’s family raise his young son, Menashe vows to one day raise his son and honor his late wife.  

I had the honor of interviewing Executive Producer and Unit Production Manager Danelle Eliav on the Red Carpet.

"Menashe" Q&A

Photo courtesy of Mike McKinney

Mike:  Hi, welcome to the Atlanta Film Festival!

Danelle Eliav:  Thank you!

First off, tell us what the film is about.

Danelle:  It’s a movie about a Hasidic man who is trying to get custody of his son after the death of his wife, Leah. In this particular part of the world and his particular community, the Hasidic world prefers that there be two parents in a household when they are raising children. Menashe isn’t parenting his son in his own household due to that rule. The journey of the film is his self discovery and to get custody back of his son.

You shot the film in a Hasidic community in New York, so what were the challenges in shooting there?

Danelle:  Oh, there were so many. We lost locations constantly; we lost actors because people at first agreed to be in the film and they got scared and reconsidered. We had to change a key part of the movie when we lost a key actor days before we started shooting. Working in and having access to that world, we had to make sure not to infringe on their privacy but at the same time, making sure that the film was authentic to the story that we were telling.

"Menashe" Q&A

Photo courtesy of Mike McKinney

You were also making sure that you were authentic by having all the dialogue in Yiddish and using all local actors from the neighborhood. How important was that to this film?

Danelle:  it was director Joshua Z. Weinstein’s priority to telling something that was authentic as possible.  He comes from a documentary background, which helped him embed himself in his community. He found the lead actor, Menashe Lustig, with the help of our leading executive producer Danny Finkelman, and then telling Menashe’s story, it made sense to surround him with people from his neighborhood.  There aren’t many actors that can speak Yiddish and there certainly aren’t many actors that understand this world. With that in mind, we cast in the community, and it was the most important thing about making this film.

"Menashe" Red Carpet

Photo courtesy of Mike McKinney

You got picked up for distribution by A24, and now you are the closing night film of the Atlanta Film Festival in conjunction with the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival which is the largest Jewish film festival in the world. You just must be thrilled.

Danelle:  It is a great, great thrill and honor. Having this whole experience has been overwhelming for all of us. We didn’t know that people would react to this film like they have. Between being at Sundance Film Festival and here, plus being picked up by a major independent studio like A24 has been overwhelming but an amazing experience. We are incredibly excited to be here!

Thank you, and I wish you much success with the film.

Danelle:  Thank you so much.

 

Menashe has been acquired by A24 and will be distributed nationwide in the coming months. 

For more information on that Atlanta Film Festival, go to www.atlantafilmfestival.com

For more of Mike’s interviews and reviews click here

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