Anat Zuria
Israel 2002 | 63 Min. | BetaSP, OmeU
Q&A with:
Anat Zuria

Israeli film­mak­er Anat Zuria exam­ines the “Tharat Hamish­pa­ha” (family purity), the ancient laws and rit­u­als which shape wom­en’s lives and sex­u­al­i­ty within Jewish Ortho­doxy, giving a subtle voice to female rebel­lion within the reli­gious world. Zuria presents her own expe­ri­ences adher­ing to Ortho­dox prac­tices, as well as those of her friends Natal­ie, Katie and Shira. At the heart of their sto­ries is the “nidda” - a ten to twelve day period restrict­ing women from touch­ing or engag­ing in sexual inti­ma­cy with their hus­bands, which cul­mi­nates with a trip to the “mikve” (cleans­ing baths). Their open­ness in front of the camera breaks a pro­found taboo of silence rooted in 2000-year-old laws, as they speak of the rigid­i­ty and con­fines of Ortho­dox rit­u­als. Beau­ti­ful­ly incor­po­rat­ing lyri­cal and med­i­ta­tive images with inter­views, “Purity” presents the hidden strug­gle of reli­gious women to main­tain their cul­tur­al tra­di­tions and indi­vid­ual needs within the frame­work of strict reli­gious law. The topic has barely ever been doc­u­ment­ed on film.