Makor Rishon: “The Therapy”

Makor Rishon published an article titled:

“The Therapy” manages to present a complex position in relation to conversion therapies

The original Hebrew is:

הטיפול מצליח להציג עמדה מורכבת ביחס לטיפולי המרה

“The treatment” manages to present a complex position in relation to conversion therapies

The film of Here 11 conveys equal empathy towards its two protagonists who chose opposite ways – to continue treatments, or to fight them

Lev S., a 54-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jew with an impressive beard, confesses that he would just like to get a hug from his father. Ben Zilberman, a 23-year-old former Ultra-Orthodox student, tells himself every bedtime night that his father is proud of him, even if he is not entirely convinced of it. The documentary ” The Therapy” that aired last night (Wednesday) in “KAN 11” is a film about conversion therapy and not about father-son relationships, but the father figure of the two protagonists of the film, which is absent throughout, cannot be ignored. Even the names of the two protagonists, Heart and Son, express it symbolically.

” The Therapy,” Zvi Lanzman’s film, is set to reveal conversion therapy from within for the first time. One of the subtitles at the beginning of the film says that the filmmakers received extraordinary consent to document conversion therapy for two and a half years. But those who wish to get to know the conversion therapy through the film may be disappointed. The short scenes from the group and personal therapy stage participants do not teach enough about the nature of the treatment. It is also understandable that the documented treatment is intended to strengthen patients’ self-image and improve their mental well-being. “The attraction may never go away,” says one patient, “but the more equal or at peace I feel with myself, the less I will be bothered by the attraction of the choice.” Beyond that, it is impossible to learn from the film how much the documented treatment purports to change sexual orientation, and in what exactly ways it does it.

Still, “The Therapy” is a very important film because of the complex position it presents in relation to treatments. Lanzman the director, a homosexual himself, tells the film that he made the courageous decision to respect the decisions of his protagonists and their treatments, even though his partner during filming was himself affected by conversion therapy. And Lanzman is up to the task. The film felt that it had created an equal empathy for its two protagonists who chose opposite ways, both towards a heart that wants to continue treatments, and towards a son who after a personal journey and research decides to fight them.

One of the film’s highlights takes place in a conversation between Ben and Matthew Soreka, the founder of a nonprofit that struggles with conversion therapy. Ben tells Soreka that he treats his treatment in a dual manner. He says that at some point he changed the purpose of the treatment, and stopped defining it as a conversion therapy. But Soreka won’t accept that Ben is still seeing his therapist and claims that he’s still in conversion therapy. Ben reacts badly. He accuses Soreka of condescension and slams him: you lie, I’m not in conversion therapy, for me my therapist is good for me right now. Soreka won’t accept the attitude, stating for Ben that he’s not proud.

This confrontational moment in the film illustrates perfectly the need to address conversion theory in a complex way. ” The Therapy” may not teach us much about the treatments themselves, but it does show how important it is to respect the position and personal choice of patients.

אלישיב רייכנר in Makor Rishon, August 19, 2021

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