‘Menashe’: Director Joshua Weinstein on His Quiet Drama [Interview]

You have never seen a movie quite like Joshua Weinstein‘s “Menashe.” The film was shot by Weinstein on a low-budget, in near cinema-verite style, deep in the heart of New York City’s Hasidic community, and it’s presented in Yiddish with English subtitles. Talk about a gamble even for an indie production.
The film chronicles the trials and tribulations of recently widowed Hasidic Jew Menashe (Menashe Lustig in his big-screen debut) whose community forces his son to be raised by his openly contemptuous brother in-law. To get his son back, he will have to marry again, but Menashe isn’t ready for commitment. His first marriage was an unhappy union, and he is less than eager to rush into another matrimonial endeavor. To make matters worse, he must also find stability, which cannot happen with his low-paying, labor-intensive gig at a Jewish bakery. His sole raison d’etre is his son and yet orthodox rule forbids them from living in the same house until he finds a wife. Menashe’s endeavor to regain custody of his son is at the heart of the film’s narrative. This is a quiet drama that stitches together an ordinary life faced with impossibly tasked religious restrictions, yet Menashe persists.
“Menashe” is a slice of an America that you’ve rarely seen before on screen, a world that largely remains from the mainstream, but to which Weinstein shows us a bird’s eye view of here. I spoke to Weinstein and Lustig about their movie and how they made the impossible a reality by working with a cast of mostly non-professionals, and an orthodox community that forbids moviemaking.
Interview can be found HERE