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humorous, sincere, insightful
Divan is a wonderful little documentary I was pleased to see at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival in 2004. It follows a "slipped" (meaning to be living outside the community) Hasidic woman-Pearl Gluck, the director- on her quest to acquire the ancient Divan couch that has the history of having been slept on by famous Jewish Rabbes.
There are a number of reasons that this documentary works as well as it does. Gluck is not a film maker, so the filming is amateurish and the flow seems disjointed at times, but these factors are irrelevant compared to the energetic editing and truly excellent soundtrack. However, it's the sincerity in her story-telling and honest love of her family's Hasidic heritage that make it compelling. And like all good documentaries, Divan uses a simple plot to really tell the story of something else, which in this case is Gluck's relationship with her father and Boro Park community whom she left as a child.
I had the unique opportunity to hear Gluck speak about her film after the viewing and her insights helped put a finer point on her excellent film, which is about the struggle to find happiness between traditions that you are connected to but at the same time reject.
Divan is delightful without being sentimental, and a great education on the more esoteric aspects of fundamentalist Judaism for non-Jews (like myself) and believers alike. Foe example the scenes of the prayer sessions on the pilgrimage and the Tish celebration were quite moving.
Well done, worth seeing.