As an adolescent attending an all-male, ultra-Orthodox boarding school, director Menachem Roth was the victim of sexual abuse. Twenty years later he confronts his abuser, documenting their disturbing relationship. Simultaneously, the director must choose between religious and secular life-styles, and between parallel romantic relationships. The end product is a courageous self-portrait, where the camera becomes a weapon of entrapment as well as an instrument of redemption.
Written & directed by: Menachem RothProduced by: Ron Ofer – Ron Ofer FilmsSponsored by: The Makor Foundation, The Gesher Foundation & The Second Authority for Radio & TV, IsraelLanguages: Yiddish and Hebrew with English subtitles
Pursued successfully employs the power of the camera to reveal the underbelly of Hasidic life. It puts to shame those who use the cover of religion to hide their evil behavior and exposes them and their deeds in all their horror.
For the entire review by Sheila Intner, Professor Emerita, Graduate School of Library & Information Sience, Simmons College, check: http://emro.lib.buffalo.edu/emro/emroDetail.asp?Number=5110
Pursued (Menachem Roth and Ron Ofer, documentary, 2012) offers a compelling story of a man's coming to terms as an adult with the sexual abuse that he experienced as a student in a haredi yeshiva.
Menachem Roth grew up within the haredi community, studying in a yeshiva, until he decided to turn his back on it, cut his payes and travel abroad. Now, 35 years-old, he is obsessed with his past and he returns to Israel from Germany where he had been living, in order to confront the demons of his previous life as a yeshiva bocher in the haredi community.
For the entire review by Amy Kronish, check: www.israelfilm.blogspot.com
Chilling and Disturbing:
In PURSUED, director Menachem Roth tracks down the son of the head of his yeshiva who molested him at age 14.
The result is a chilling film, mainly because the protagonist is not out for revenge.
Elkana Shur, Maariv July 15, 2012
Menachem Roth grew up in an Ultra Orthodox home and 20 years ago, at the age of 14, he experienced something very difficult in the yeshiva in which he was a student.
What that event was and why it made him cut off his side-locks and move to Germany, we are not told at the beginning of the film. Only later on do we discover that he was sexually molested. His attacker was the son of the head of the yeshiva who is now a rabbi himself and the father of 14 children. In the times since he was molested, Roth has removed the trappings of Hasidic life and moved to Germany. But in PURSUED he returns to Israel and seeks out the man who attacked him. He dresses as a Hasidic Jew, rents an apartment near his molester and even engages him in joint study.
Roth is obsessive about his attacker. But in the place where you would expect to find anger and revenge, he instead feels compelled to force a confession out of his molester. In one of the surprising moments of the film, Roth tells his Orthodox grandmother about the incident. “What should I do?” he asks her “you should beat him up” the old woman answers, “is he stronger than you?” “I think he is”. “That could be a problem” she sighs. But Roth is not interested in beating anyone up. Until he can get the confession from his attacker in his own words, he will not rest. And all of this in done within the context of a sheltered, closed Hassidic society. Roth makes great efforts to have a sane reasonable conversation with a sex-offender in a place where silence is the norm. It is a society that tends to sweep everything under the carpet. As Roth points out, there is not even a word in Yiddish for rape.
PURSUED does not make things easy for the viewer. The soundtrack is tense and dramatic. And the story unfolds slowly, layer by layer. The filmmaker made good stylistic choices as the story is not simple and there is more than one way to tell it. There is a wound and there are more than one choice for how to pick at it. PURSUED is a moving story and that is what makes it a successful film.
By Marat Pamochovsky, Walla!, May 2, 2012
20 years later, Pursued filmmaker, Menachem Roth returns to his Haredi roots to confront the man who molested him.
“My hope is that first and foremost this film will reach the victims of sexual violence and serve as some sort of example. So that these people don’t feel like they have to be ashamed of what they did, but ashamed for those who did those things to them. Secondly I would like to be able to reach into Haredi society and acknowledge this phenomenon and give it an explicit name. Not to continue and say “he touched me” or “he was fooling around with me”, but say that it is rape. There need to be words to describe it before we can fight against it.”