Be on the lookout for Pearl Gluck’s Summer, a short film of sexual exploration set in a Hasidic sleepaway camp in the Catskills. Gluck, 45, went from growing up Hasidic in Borough Park, Brooklyn, to college at Brandeis, with a quirky feminist affection for her roots. At the film’s world premiere at the January 2018 New York Jewish Film Festival, she cheerfully admitted to autobiography in this film she wrote, directed and produced.
The 18-minute film captures the ferocious energy of a camp full of adolescent girls and the gentle secrecy of two friends’ illicit inquiry into a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves. (Though with all the current complexities of “consent,” one girl’s pressuring another makes this reviewer a little uncomfortable.) The attractive young rebbetzin entrusted with the campers’ moral education stays on message: “You are always in the presence of God, but you are also always in the presence of matchmakers.… Above all, don’t mess up your chances for a good match.” Look for Summer, with score by The Klezmatics’ Lisa Gutkin, on the film festival circuit.
Gluck’s Hasidic filmic feminism goes back to Divan (2003/Netflix, Amazon, Fandor). It’s her own Hasidic tale, journeying through Hungary in search of the ancestral couch where revered rebbes slept. Not a one-note filmmaker, her latest film, The Turn Out, explores sex trafficking at America’s rural truck stops. More on Gluck’s films and contact information to arrange screenings, at palinkapictures.com.