Seth, a college senior, is home for winter break. He’s spending a day relaxing and shopping on Fairfax Avenue when he’s suddenly confronted by an Orthodox Jewish man asking Seth if he’s Jewish. Seth’s chance encounter leads to a profound spiritual experience with life-changing implications.
ANTISEMITE is a film about self-discovery in a time of fear and violence. Fear of one’s heritage, and fear of exploring and expressing one’s identity. For the past two thousand years, Jewish people have been the victims of antisemitism, being forced to live at the margins of whatever society they happened to call home at the time. Sure, assimilation provided some cover, but the fact remained and still remains to this day, Jews have always been Other. ANTISEMITE explores the themes around a unique component of being Jewish in today’s world, the capacity to be Jewish without actually being Jewish. It’s a paradox that many modern Jews face, and it’s a sense of inner conflict that many seek to avoid. Following the uptick in violence against Jewish people in North America last year, our writer Etan Marciano channeled his anger, fear, confusion, and sense of ambiguity into a narrative that sought nuance in the face of an increasingly binary conversation about what it means to be Jewish in today’s world.
Seth, our film’s lead, is a version of a growing Jewish American archetype. His Judaism is only as deep as his vague awareness that he’s Jewish. He’s a born and raised Angeleno. He’s the son of an immigrant Israeli father who rejects his religious past, and an American-born mother who never cared to embrace her Judaism. His parents have offered him no sense of what it means to be Jewish, and in that void of his identity, Seth has naturally sought a sense of self in the secular culture around him. Instead of his faith or spirituality, he defines himself by his taste in fashion, music, the content that he consumes and the multicultural friends he surrounds himself with. But however much of an echo chamber Seth has created for himself, he still yearns for deeper meaning, purpose and connection. Seth’s chance encounter with an Orthodox Jewish man-- similar to the type of encounter Etan experienced all the time as a teenager growing up in New York City -- acts as a catalyst that changes Seth’s life. But the question remains, does Seth have the courage to pursue his Jewish identity knowing that it could alienate him from his family and friends? And if so, does he have the resolve to cope with the specter of hate and violence that awaits?
ANTISEMITE is a film that I believe will resonate with everyone who sees it, as the themes are universal. It’s a film about finding your place in the world and the consequences of that. I too have a father from another culture, who overcorrected and assimilated into American culture, erasing his ties to his native land. I have had to discover that for myself, in a journey similar to Seth’s, and have faced the repercussions of living between being Other and an American upbringing. This is a film that audiences will surely identify with, and garner some deeper understanding of themselves.
Directed by Michelle Bossy
Written by Etan Marciano
Cast: Sasha Feldman, Guri Weinberg