The Jewish ultra-orthodox society in Israel is different from what it seems from the outside. In the last years it is changing in many ways, and the development of the ultra-orthodox cinema is one of them. Merlyn Vinig, a researcher of ultra-Orthodox cinema, author of the bestseller "Haredi Cinema" and the only Haredi film critic in Israel and abroad, will allow a glimpse into a rare and fascinating cinematic world. Vinig is an ultra-Orthodox woman, married to an Yeshiva men and mother of seven, and lives in Jerusalem. For many years she has been researching the world of "Haredi cinema". Her research focused on two main aspects: defining the "ultra-orthodox" genre, and defining the phenomenon. Until her book was published in 2011, the use of the word cinema among the ultra-orthodox society was seen as something out of place, and the combination of the words "ultra-orthodox cinema" was an oxymoron and could even cause an antagonism. Cinematic works were not defined as a genre and alternative names were used: audio-visual show, "presentation", "photographed drama", and using the definition of "movie" was considered daring.
In the first two decades of the 21st century, ultra-Orthodox women's cinema accelerates and now a young film industry is thriving. Industry, that is founded and led by women and which, from its inception to the present, is projected to only women viewers. The films are distributed in two languages: Hebrew and Yiddish, in Israel and among women from ultra-Orthodox communities around the world Boro Park, Russia, Antwerp, London, Budapest, Brazil and more - making it an international phenomenon.
Kosher films for girls and women must obey the Jewish law and rabbinical supervision. The stories deal with family issues and focus on women: mothers and daughters, sisters, grandmothers and granddaughters, friendships among women, and more. The stories usually lack a male model. Without a father figure the mother is empowered. However, without doubt the most important hero in the movies is G-d. The strict rules and limitations that Haredi filmmakers encounter create a very interesting space, expanding women directors creativity. This is a grass-root movement empowering women in those close- knit communities and Marlyn Vinig's lecture will open a window into a world that nobody knows about.