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Double-Play Trade

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Film That’s Changing Lives

TREMBLING BEFORE G-D

Available on DVD and VHS October 21 from

New Yorker Video

 
The Critically Acclaimed Documentary Film that Shatters Assumptions about Faith, Sexuality and Religious Fundamentalism

Deluxe two-disc DVD set loaded with three hours of bonus materials including the featurette “Trembling on the Road”

NEW YORK (September 18, 2003) – On October 21, marking the 2nd anniversary of its theatrical launch where it has since played in 85 cities across North America, comes the DVD and VHS release of Trembling Before G-d, the critically acclaimed documentary film by Sandi DuBowski that shatters assumptions about faith, sexuality and religious fundamentalism.  Built around intimately-told personal stories of Hasidic and Orthodox Jews who are gay or lesbian, the film portrays a group of people who face a profound dilemma - how to reconcile their passionate love of Judaism and the Divine with the drastic Biblical prohibitions that forbid homosexuality.  Trembling Before G-d will be released on a deluxe two-disc DVD set loaded with special features including a 40-minute featurette “Trembling on the Road,” a look at the life-changing movement of the film around the world, “Mark: the Musical,” “Behind the Silhouettes,” director interviews, deleted scenes and much more. The film on DVD has a suggest retail price of $39.95 and will also be available for rental or purchase on VHS.  Consumers can pre-order the DVD through amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

The theatrically released film premiered in competition at Sundance in 2001 and garnered the most prestigious international award for gay and lesbian cinema, the coveted Teddy Award for Best Documentary at the 2001 Berlin International Film Festival, where it screened in the International Forum for New Cinema. The ground-breaking documentary screened at more than 200 film festivals worldwide including Jerusalem, Karlovy Vary, Pusan, Sydney and Melbourne, was the closing night film of the 2001 Human Rights Watch Film Festival, broke Opening Day box office records at Film Forum in New York, was winner of the 2003 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary of the Year, and was also nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.

Trembling Before G-d was awarded funding from over 30 foundations including The Steven Spielberg Righteous Persons Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Creative Capital Foundation, The Mathilde & Arthur B. Krim Foundation, and The Nathan Cummings Foundation.

As the film unfolds, we meet a range of individuals - some hidden, some out - from the world's first openly gay Orthodox rabbi to closeted married Hasidic gays and lesbians to those abandoned by religious families to Orthodox lesbian high-school sweethearts.   Many have been tragically rejected and their pain is raw, yet with irony, humor, and resilience, they love, care, struggle, and debate with a thousand-year old tradition. Ultimately, they are forced to question how they can pursue truth and faith in their lives. Vividly shot with a courageous few over five years in Brooklyn, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, London, Miami, and San Francisco, Trembling Before G-d is an international project with global implications that strikes at the meaning of religious identity and tradition in a modern world. For the first time, this issue has become a live, public debate in Orthodox circles, and the film is both witness and catalyst to this historic moment. What emerges is a loving and fearless testament to faith and survival and the universal struggle to belong.

DVD ELEMENTS

The DVD release will include the following bonus features:

·    Featurette - Trembling on the Road 

A featurette about the life-changing movement of the movie around the world. Trembling has touched and transformed lives across the globe. This is a dramatic document of dialogues, protests, reactions, screenings, and events from Israel, the first Orthodox synagogue screenings, the Sundance Film Festival World Premiere, Mexico City, Ohio, NYC, Santa Fe, San Francisco, London, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Washington D.C., University of Pennsylvania, Dallas, Long Island, Scotland, Atlanta, Miami, Sacramento, and the Internet over the past 2 ½ years. Includes poignant, funny, interesting, and angry reactions and reflections on Trembling and updates on all the character's lives.

·    Interview with the Director - Sandi Simcha DuBowski

Called the Mt. Everest of documentary, Trembling Before G-d took six years to make. DuBowski met hundreds of people around the world and only the tiniest handful came forward to participate in this film. Here is the story behind the story, how a film became a movement, and the challenges met in creating this landmark work. 21 min.

·    Mark: the Musical

What if MTV did a spiritual music video?  Mark sings his way through Jerusalem’s Hasidic neighborhoods.  Includes rare footage of the Orthodox world – a religious pilgrimage to Mt. Meron for the holiday of Lag B’Omer with dancing and back-flipping, Siyyum HaShas Daf Yomi celebration in Madison Square Garden with 40,000 Orthodox Jews, Hasidim doing tashlich or the casting away of sins in the waters off Williamsburg, the Bobover rebbe (now deceased) dancing with throngs of his followers in Brooklyn, crowds praying at Jerusalem’s Western Wall.  4 min

·        More With Rabbi Steve Greenberg, the First Openly Gay Orthodox Rabbi

Rabbi Steve shares his inspiring life story of a religious leader’s 20 years of struggle to come out and reconcile what many believe is irreconcilable.  From becoming Orthodox at the age of 15 in Columbus, Ohio to approaching a legendary rabbi in Jerusalem with the fear of being bisexual and being told “You have twice the power of love. Use it carefully” to opening his mouth to say morning prayers on the roof of his building and just weeping because no words could come out to becoming out and proud and feeling G-d’s love. Steve’s book, Wrestling With God and Men, on homosexuality, Judaism and the Bible will be published by University of Wisconsin Press in Spring 2004. 25 min

·        Behind The Silhouettes

The making of the silhouettes – only at the end of the film is it revealed that the Orthodox gay and lesbian community came together to form their image behind the screen. The story of turning a soundstage into a virtual shtetl and how invisibility was illuminated.5 min

·        Director’s short film – Tomboychik

DuBowski’s first film. A series of intimate video vignettes depicting the fierce love between Malverna and Sandi, 88 and 22, grandmother and grandson.  The two playmates dress up drag-esque for this moving portrait of a woman’s struggle with gender and sexuality.  Since Malverna's death, Tomboychik has become a living memorial to the intensity of her spirit.  Winner Golden Gate Award for Best Short Documentary, San Francisco Film Festival.  15 mins.

·        More with the Rabbis

Excerpts from interviews with a number of very prestigious Orthodox rabbis about the issue of homosexuality –. Rabbi Aharon Feldman, Rabbi Aron Tendler, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Rabbi Meir Fund and Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo.  There are some astounding stories; Rabbi Tendler tells the story of a gay teacher at his Los Angeles yeshiva who died of AIDS and how it transformed the school. Rabbi Feldman relays a story of how one of the leading rabbis of our generation gave a speech exhorting men to treat their circumcised penises like a holy Sefer Torah, the Bible. Rabbi Cardozo speaks of a kleptomaniac in his native Holland who only understood why he had such an inclination after stealing hundreds of Dutch Jews’ passports from under the nose of a Nazi officer, thereby saving their lives. 40 min

·        Petach Lev: The Trembling Israeli Education Project

The Steven Spielberg Righteous Persons Foundation, The Nathan Cummings Foundation as well as a number of other foundations awarded us funding to launch an Orthodox education project with the film. One year ago, we trained 11 facilitators in Jerusalem who have since held screenings and led dialogues for 2,000 principals, teachers, school counselors and therapists across the nation, breaking the taboo on discussing the issue of homosexuality in the country’s Orthodox school system.  Here a group of them are interviewed about their groundbreaking experiences. 15 mins. In Hebrew with English subtitles

·        Deleted scene – Sara and Her Kids

Sara and Her Kids - a divorced Orthodox lesbian and her five kids – basically the Orthodox Von Trapp family sings together…5 min

·        What is The Atonement Ceremony for Sexual Sins?

Rabbi Steve Greenberg guides us through the atonement ceremony for sexual sins depicted in the film. Why the ice cubes? Why the blowing of the shofar, the ram’s horn?  3 mins. 

·        Conversation with editor and director Susan Korda

Susan Korda, filmmaker and Creative Collaborator/Editor discusses the craft of filmmaking and the editing process with director DuBowski. 7 min.

·        Shlomo on Donahue

The first mass media gay Orthodox moment when Shlomo from Trembling Before G-d is on Donahue in 1985 representing the Institute for the Protection of Gay and Lesbian Youth. It led to him being ostracized by his community for many years. 3 mins.

·        International Resource Guide, Glossary and Links

An international resource guide to Jewish gay and lesbian websites, organizations, resources and groups. A glossary of Yiddish and Hebrew terms used in Trembling Before G-d. How to contact the filmmakers, get a signed director’s copy of the poster, and the film’s soundtrack by John Zorn.

·        Multi-language subtitles including Spanish, Hebrew, Yiddish and closed-captioned for the deaf and hearing-impaired.

·        Theatrical trailer

·        Scene selections

·        Closed-captions

BASICS

New Yorker Video

DVD - $39.95 SRP

VHS - Rental or Purchase

Street date: October 21

 
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