Rutgers Jewish Film Festival

After “The Therapy” was screened, the producer gave an interview. Here is my take.

First, here is the video on YouTube:

I was intrigued to hear what they said about the “Lev” character.

“Lev is perhaps one of the most sympathetic tragic characters I’ve seen on screen…”

“He thinks he’s seen from being a victim to being a hero”

It goes on.

I am not bothered.

Rabbi Avigdor Miller says something related to this on Parshas Vayeira:

There are other people who are accustomed to licentiousness, to do whatever their eyes persuade them to do. Don’t think that they regret their attitude; actually, they consider their way the proper way of life and others, those who abstain from all kinds of extraneous pleasures, are despised by them. They look down on them. They call them squares, prudes, unnatural people.

‘Natural’ means to do what you wish, according to these ill-natured people who are sick in their souls. So what do we see from this? That it is possible for people to be so ill in their characters that they see things upside down. Of course, they say we see things upside down.

Toras Avigdor Parshas Vayeira 5783

One argument has always been that if we don’t let the men with same-sex-attraction fulfill their “needs”, they will die (e.g. some will commit suicide). The Rabbis had a discussion on a similar topic 1500+ years ago in the Talmud volume Sanhedrin page 75A. Over there, doctors said that if the Rabbis don’t let a sick man have sexual intercourse with a particular lady, the man will die. To this, the Rabbis said, “Let him die, and she may not engage in sexual intercourse with him!”

Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: There was an incident involving a certain man who set his eyes upon a certain woman and passion rose in his heart, to the point that he became deathly ill. And they came and asked doctors what was to be done with him. And the doctors said: He will have no cure until she engages in sexual intercourse with him. The Sages said: Let him die, and she may not engage in sexual intercourse with him. The doctors said: She should at least stand naked before him. The Sages said: Let him die, and she may not stand naked before him. The doctors suggested: The woman should at least converse with him behind a fence in a secluded area, so that he should derive a small amount of pleasure from the encounter. The Sages insisted: Let him die, and she may not converse with him behind a fence.

The Gemara comments: Rabbi Ya’akov bar Idi and Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani disagree about this issue. One of them says: The woman in question was a married woman, and the other one says: She was unmarried. The Gemara tries to clarify the issue: Granted, according to the one who says that she was a married woman, the matter is properly understood. Since the case involved a severely prohibited forbidden relationship, the Sages did not allow any activity hinting at intimacy. But according to the one who says that she was unmarried, what is the reason for all this opposition? Why did the Sages say that the man must be allowed to die, rather than have the woman do as was requested?

Rav Pappa says: This is due to the potential family flaw, i.e., harm to the family name, as it is not permitted to bring disgrace to the entire family in order to save the lovesick man. Rav Aḥa, son of Rav Ika, says: This is so that the daughters of Israel should not be promiscuous with regard to forbidden sexual relations. Were they to listen to the doctors’ recommendations, Jewish women might lose moral restraint.

The Gemara asks: But if the woman was unmarried, let the man marry her. The Gemara answers: His mind would not have been eased by marriage, in accordance with the statement of Rabbi Yitzḥak. As Rabbi Yitzḥak says: Since the day the Temple was destroyed, sexual pleasure was taken away from those who engage in permitted intercourse and given to transgressors, as it is stated: “Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant” (Proverbs 9:17). Therefore, the man could have been cured only by engaging in illicit sexual interaction.

One would assume the Rabbis would say something similar about a man who says, “let me have sex with this other man or I will die” and I also get a doctor to confirm my medical stance (surprisingly easy today to get such a doctor!). Of course, they would say it is forbidden and the sick man can’t have relations with the other man!

So that is what a Jew starts with. Given that, some type of therapy to help cope with these feelings seems quite logical.

In the interview, they imply that my therapist and those similar to him have no training (because the training is illegal and they can lose their license) and that they are completely biased against living a gay lifestyle. They also imply that “their” therapists are unbiased and help a person realize his true self.

But in fact, ALL therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists are biased. They have their idea of what a “normal” person is and they can help their clients realize that.

Rabbi Dr. Dovid Gottlieb has a talk on this topic and gives a few examples and asks for each example what should the therapist do. For example:

John likes to have relations with women who are married to other men. But he feels guilty afterwards, so he goes to the therapist and asks, “Please help me so that I won’t feel guilty!” What should the therapist do?

  1. Accept the client
  2. Reject the client
  3. Call the police

Dave hates his boss, and comes up with an elaborate plan to kill him. But he knows he will feel guilty after he executes his plan. He therefore goes to a therapist and asks, “Please help me so I won’t feel guilty!” What should the therapist do?

  1. Accept the client
  2. Reject the client
  3. Call the police

Rabbi Gottlieb says that if the therapist says he is not biased, run quickly away from him!

Sure, my therapist is biased. But he is G-d fearing, which is what I need. I want to have the confidence of knowing that when he gives me advice, it is coming from a Torah source, and not from a person who holds that a person is free to do whatever he wants.

So at the end of the day, I listened to the interview and I felt great. It seemed to me as if the two people talking were from an upside-down planet on which right is wrong and wrong is right. But being based on the Torah, I know that the path I am taking is correct, and the fact that I am quiet and trying to live a normal life is the path that G-d Himself wants of me.

Full Transcript

0:01 welcome everyone to the Rutgers Jewish Film Festival this week we are in our

0:06 virtual festival and we are pleased to have the opportunity to interview a

0:12 number of film directors and you’ll be able to watch the recordings here on our website uh through December so we highly

0:19 recommend you watch the film first and then you come back and listen to the recording with the film director

0:25 the Jewish Film Festival is sponsored by the Allen and Jones Builder center for the study of Jewish life here at Rutgers

0:31 University in New Brunswick I know many of you are across the state and other locations so we really appreciate that

0:39 you are joining us for our festival and for our speaker talks

0:44 I’m delighted today that we’re talking about the film the therapy and we have

0:49 the director of the film SV lansman with us he is a jerusalem-based filmmaker

0:56 and he his production company is Tree House Productions you’ll note the logo here behind sweet

1:04 the therapy received a Sundance Institute documentary fund Grant and the

1:11 jury award at the dock of Eve International Film Festival in Israel

1:17 sweet is a graduate of the Sam Spiegel School of film and television he was a

1:22 cinematographer of the Oscar shortlisted film The mutes house he’s the director

1:28 of your warmth a short film that participated in more than 30 LGBT festivals worldwide

1:35 and cinematographer of the award-winning documentary the museum which we screened

1:41 at the Rutgers Jewish Film Festival back in 2019. the last one of the cinematographers one of the

1:47 cinematographers thank yous that was the last time we were in person actually when we showed the museum a fabulous

1:54 film um and today we have asked Ali Mandel to

2:00 interview SV Ali is a clinical psychologist in school

2:06 and private practice dealing with teenagers many of whom are Orthodox and some who are struggling

2:13 with sexual orientations so the topics raised in the film are

2:18 somewhat familiar area for her Ali also serves on the film selection

2:24 Committee of the Rutgers Jewish Film Festival and we greatly appreciate her time with the festival so I’ll turn it

2:32 over to the two of you um disappearing I’ll come back at the end foreign

2:38 thank you so much for giving me this opportunity um thank you great to have you here when

2:45 Karen asked me to do this interview I was very excited because um as a therapist I’m used to meeting

2:53 people for the first time in my office and kind of going in cold with no

2:58 background no familiarity no history um and I’ve always been fascinated by

3:05 the difference between an interview and a therapy session

3:10 um so your film kind of really brings that to the fore um but for me personally this is going

3:17 to be a very exciting experience because of all the prep work that goes into doing an interview

3:22 um so different than a than a therapy session but I will start yeah how about the different how about the difference

3:29 between a therapy session and making a movie there are many lines uh many lines that

3:36 cross right and I I’ve also said to Karen you know my my uh secret fantasy

3:42 was always to be a movie reviewer and so when she asked me to join the committee now I get all of my interests met

3:50 um but I do want to start with sort of the same initial question that I’ll start a therapy session which with which

3:56 is can you tell us a little bit about your background um and maybe

4:02 specifically focusing now on your current relationship with um Orthodox Judaism because I know that

4:08 that’s how you grew up yeah so um first thank you for having me here uh

4:15 um I grew up in a religious uh Orthodox Jewish uh home uh in the south of Israel

4:22 a town called uh my parents are religious from

4:28 different type of streams uh modern religious modern Orthodox my mother is a

4:34 feminist so is my father I think uh in in theory anyway

4:41 um and um yeah I grew up believing in equality

4:47 and also that there are different sexual orientations

4:52 but when I did come out to my parents as gay when I was 19 they did struggle with

4:59 it a little bit it wasn’t an easy thing to accept that

5:05 you know their child is now going to have a totally different lifestyle than they imagined or thought they’d have

5:13 and I had to kind of convince them that that doesn’t mean that I will

5:18 necessarily be unhappy alone um with no family of my own and all the

5:27 bad things that they thought are the Destiny for for homosexuals and

5:34 luckily for me they understood that pretty fast and they’ve been with me and backing me up ever since

5:41 uh but coming from an orthodox home I also dated people from Orthodox

5:47 backgrounds um and that’s when I got to know conversion therapy through other people

5:53 that ruined the same community and most of them had been in some type of

5:58 conversion therapy be it conversations what they arrive by or be it something

6:04 more um you know like uh and something more elaborate like we see

6:12 in the film so and that and that includes my uh someone that I’ve been in a

6:17 relationship with for three and a half years you mentioned that I guess at the end at the very end of the movie right

6:23 that was sort of you know where what I was thinking while I was watching the movie is

6:30 um why was this the particular story that you wanted to tell through this particular lens

6:36 um of conversion therapy there’s there are several movies that I’ve seen about um homosexuality in the Orthodox

6:42 Community nothing ever really touching on this particular aspect of it and so

6:49 um you kind of answered that question for me at the end in that last bit when you’re talking to Ben

6:56 um and you mentioned that you had a partner who was in conversion therapy

7:02 um so what was interesting to me again is what sort of compelled you to want to

7:09 tell the story through the lens of conversion therapy um what did you want the audience to take

7:15 away right you touched on so many things family mental health right there it’s just there’s so much in there

7:23 um I’m curious how you arrived at the at the place where this was the the jumping

7:29 off point and the lens that you wanted to tell the story yeah so to me uh films are a way to

7:37 share an experience um and less of a way to tell people what

7:44 to think to educate people and to convince people I think they could be educated and convinced but I I feel that

7:52 this is an art form that is best when it’s allowed for the viewers to to do

7:58 that for themselves if they if they choose to change their minds they’ll they’ll change it it’s not up to me to

8:05 actually you know get in there and try to manipulate program yeah unlike the

8:10 conversion therapists that you unlike the conversion therapist definitely

8:15 um and that’s what I think in life and that’s what I think in film aging

8:20 um so my motivation when I was with my boyfriend at the time I wanted to share

8:27 what he’s shared with me what he’s been through uh also before we met when he

8:32 was in converting therapy and also while we were together what he was struggling with which is to show how hard it is for

8:40 people to come out of this world to to to to change their their opinions their

8:47 their perspectives uh and change their lives and start over again in a

8:52 different type of life because it’s not a clear-cut it’s not very easy it’s not like if you stop going stop attending

8:59 these meetings um you’re okay you’re you’re on a different um

9:05 track and that’s it it kind of goes with you and stays with you so I felt like I

9:10 wanted to share uh and also share what he’s been from in the past which is what

9:15 conversion therapy is like from within and it was clear to me also this is like a historical this could be a historical

9:22 documentation because there is no documentation of conversion therapy from within and you know it’s it changes all

9:30 the time so it may very well be that the documentation in this film is the only

9:37 documentation it’s it is documentation of conversion therapy now of actual

9:42 conversion therapy and it may be the only one in the future because it’s bound to change and and take on

9:48 different shape um so that that was kind of my end point

9:54 um but I want to go with this also to um

10:00 I think when you see in the end of the film you can see my Approach the way I

10:06 just explained it about you know my approach to the viewers is the same approach that I had with my partner when

10:12 I was you know seeing him through um getting out of conversion therapy and

10:17 also with Ben uh it’s it’s the same approach and I think it’s the approach that you also

10:23 mentioned as a therapy that is not conversion therapy therapy that is not converged it doesn’t tell you what to

10:29 think doesn’t tell you what your direction must be and um lets you

10:35 Find Your Way in life and it’s just like holding your hand knowing that there’s someone there for you

10:42 um and someone that sees you someone that can mirror what you’re going through and help you become more you uh

10:51 and just going with you wherever you go and I think um you know in that moment when Ben

10:58 understood that that I was also gay and uh and I was there with him the whole

11:04 time without you know telling him what to do and what to be and he broke into tears

11:11 um I think and also he told me afterwards that he was he he all of a

11:16 sudden understood that he wasn’t alone through all of that he felt very very alone he was the only person in his life

11:24 um that really knew what he was dealing with while he was dealing with it and

11:29 then he understood I was there the whole time um didn’t want to intervene didn’t want

11:35 him to you know to know who I am all the way in order for it not to you know

11:41 change um his choices and she felt that that was very very uh

11:49 important for him and till this day he sees the film as a

11:54 super positive experience for him in his life and something that was very empowering I think it’s because it gave

12:00 him the voice uh to to find it gave him a way to find and Define and speak out

12:07 his own voice and it wasn’t my voice um it was a very sorry I’m just jumping in

12:14 a very very authentic therapeutic moment really quite honestly watching that scene

12:20 um a real sort of catharsis right that just looking at his face watching

12:26 something sort of dawn on him and that internalized experience of the

12:33 connection that I think he’d been seeking all along and you know you just

12:38 said a lot and there are a lot of directions that I want to go in based on what you’re saying but I want to just

12:43 ask you how did you identify Ben and Lev um how did you sort of

12:52 it’s fascinating the access that you were provided how you got into those therapy sessions

12:58 um just let’s hear a little bit about those pieces first yeah so that was indeed the biggest

13:05 challenge in the film like uh I decided that I wanted to to document conversion

13:10 therapy in real time and I kind of knew that’s impossible and uh impossible

13:16 things really uh you know attract me so so I really tried to do that uh and it

13:23 took me about three years to find uh someone that is going through conversion

13:28 therapy and would be willing to be filmed and eventually it was not one but it was two it was 11 Ben and I had kind

13:36 of identified from the very beginning that Lev is probably going to stay in

13:41 this world uh and going to just I thought actually that you know through the film he’ll eventually get married

13:48 and I didn’t anticipate that he kind of um uh kind of stayed still in terms of

13:56 developing in that direction through the filming through the making of the film uh and I did anticipate that Ben

14:05 when I started something he was all for conversion therapy and I kind of felt that he’s going to change and he’s going

14:12 to become um someone that opposes converting therapy because I’d seen that

14:19 um I’d seen my boyfriend go through that exactly and I kind of felt that Ben was in the same spot so

14:28 different developmental times different needs for them right the age difference between them but how did you get into

14:34 the meetings yeah so that was that took another year and a half

14:40 of connection of communication of filming uh pretty quickly they let me film the uh the one-on-one sessions

14:50 um because that was just Lev’s choice and his therapist uh also through those

14:55 three years that that uh that I’ve been working to get that that access his therapist also got to know me and

15:02 understand uh that I am going to show I’m curious to show therapy as it is and

15:08 not to try and make it into something different and I’m going to let them explain what they’re doing and uh and

15:16 count on the viewers and also I did tell them I will show opposite opinions and

15:21 criticism will be heard in the film but I would let them speak for themselves and that’s why he agreed to be uh in the

15:29 film uh but then it took me another year and a half of filming until the group and the group leader

15:37 um uh Eric you know student name in the film that they agreed to be in the film and they

15:44 that was also just a matter of slow building up relationships and and trust

15:50 and they felt that they couldn’t really trust me that even though I am not from their world I probably don’t subscribe

15:57 to their point of view I am interested in letting them uh explain it and making

16:03 them understood even if people will not agree with it I personally think that

16:09 you know you can’t agree with that but I I think you can think that without uh

16:15 while you listen to them I think you can listen to them and understand what I see that it doesn’t work and it’s not

16:22 positive um a positive direction for these people to go to what was really interesting is

16:30 there is just that one conversation I guess between Ben and is his name Matthew

16:36 from Matthew is the activist I’m foreign

16:43 so I felt that that was really the only moment in the film where there was a

16:51 a viewpoint through which you know the the participants were communicating and

16:59 there was a ton of breathing room in the rest of the movie right it was just you were just simply

17:05 following the characters um and when you talk yeah I did kind of I did help them help like the story

17:12 develop I did help Ben to get to meet people that like I encouraged him to do

17:18 the research to interview these people and to hear their standpoints and have

17:24 to deal with it in his own life and I kind of made the film progress uh through that but I made it so that it

17:30 would be um on authentic uh journey of him getting to know all these different uh

17:37 opinions that are out there in the secular world that he’s migrated to

17:42 um and I just made sure that he’d meet them in front of our camera was it clear to you

17:48 um Ben’s Turning Point what was the sort of catharsis for the actual shift

17:56 yeah so uh many times in films uh or sometimes in films we start

18:05 a little bit after like the seed has been planted and only when the person starts to have to deal with the

18:11 consequences of something that happened before so I understood already from speaking to him as soon as he was in the

18:18 secular world and he was going to University and he was trying to prove to his professors

18:24 and we’ve documented part of that uh that conversion therapy is good it was clear to me that the Tipping Point

18:30 already happened yeah once he’s not inside the Orthodox world what once

18:36 um there are no uh more Super horrifying consequences to coming out of the closet

18:42 once he’s surrounded by people that thinking that the thing that being gay is okay

18:48 uh there is no need for conversion therapy in his life and slowly

18:54 um it was clear to me that it’s going to um the driving force is going to to be

19:01 looser and looser and he’s going to drop out uh but the Tipping Point in terms of

19:07 like during the film was definitely that scene with Matthew Matthew was very

19:12 persistent he felt like he doesn’t speak that way with uh um people in conversion

19:18 therapy usually but he felt Ben can take it and he also felt like this isn’t an

19:25 opportunity for the only opportunity I have to touch on this person’s life and

19:30 he’s serious he’s doing research on this and and I should do I should take this opportunity now he made that choice it

19:37 had a price then hated his guts for months did he I’m sure it’s a very very

19:42 painful realization I’m sure for Ben too right it’s one thing to recognize that there

19:50 are problems to say the least with conversion therapy it’s another thing to kind of come to

19:55 terms with um the reality of your therapist and that

20:02 relationship that has probably taken him through so many different Journeys and

20:07 and so much pain to kind of say conversion therapy is one thing but

20:13 he was so uh convinced that what what he was doing

20:18 at that point was no longer conversion therapy right holding dearly onto the relationship with his therapist that

20:24 that kind of breakup I’m sure was was the last place of resistance for him

20:29 yeah that’s the thing with with this type of therapy is that you rely emotionally on the person who’s your

20:36 therapist uh it’s I know that way in a regular therapy and it’s that way the

20:42 following conversion therapy also and that’s a lot to lose when someone is

20:47 telling you your therapist is bad for you especially when you’ve lost so many other relationships in your life right

20:54 that’s the kind of like the thing too it’s all the life jacket it must have been very difficult for him yeah now

21:02 they’re good friends uh Matthew flew in uh for the film’s premiere when we talk of the film festival and they got to

21:08 meet again and I sat down with them and they kind of went through everything and uh and Ben did recognize that that made

21:16 an impact on his life even though it was not pleasant at the time um she’s happy that it happened

21:23 can we talk about Lev for a few minutes because yes Lev is perhaps one of the

21:29 most sympathetic tragic characters that I’ve seen on screen I like my heart as a

21:37 therapist broke for this man his struggles his vulnerability his

21:44 way of expressing yourself is is deep pain

21:50 um it was so raw and so vulnerable and you know watching just sort of your framing shots

21:57 as we spoke about so many close-ups which creates so much you know emotional

22:03 heat in watching the movie um I’m very curious to hear a little bit about Lev and his broken heart that’s

22:10 what I just couldn’t believe that scene in the conversion Therapy

22:16 Group and how well how willing he was to allow that to

22:21 be shown in a movie yeah I could cry uh again just thinking

22:27 about these moments and um being behind the camera and seeing you

22:32 know these stuff unravel it was unbelievable eyes yeah uh it was not the first time that

22:40 he’s completely shocked me in him being filmed uh I did one Preparatory interview with him

22:48 before we we got going uh I I heard from this therapist that he found someone

22:54 that is willing to be filmed so I went to betcha mesh to meet him where he lives and we had a conversation he was

23:01 the absolute most boring person I’d ever met he only spoke about Orthodox uh

23:08 rules and stuff like that you kind of see a pinch of that um in the conversation with his with his

23:15 daughter when he’s kind of kind of he’s trying to pull time before he tells her uh that he’s gay uh so he just talks

23:23 about I don’t know Scottish I need to Darvin I need to whatever so that was kind of the conversation and I I I

23:29 thought like okay this is a bad character for a film but this is what I

23:34 got we have to get going with this and then the first time I I shot him he was

23:40 so open in front of the camera like something else came out I feel like he’s been been waiting for this opportunity

23:46 to to be listened to and to know that people actually want him to show up for

23:53 himself uh and every time we’re filming that’s miraculously what came out and he’s just

24:00 made me cry every time I filmed him basically his pathos right his Humanity

24:06 it’s so apparent and I wonder if yes yeah it’s so interesting that he

24:14 would choose to be filmed given right that it seems that the only place he can

24:21 actually be who he is is in these conversion therapy groups right and I’m imagining

24:27 that that’s you know it’s paradoxical because the intention of the group is to

24:32 move them away from this but I’m it felt to me very much that as free as time and

24:38 that’s why he’s clinging to the knee for the group because where else does he have the opportunity to be who he is

24:45 yeah and this is something that I knew from the beginning is that’s what’s happening there and I I saw I knew it

24:53 from from my ex from my boyfriend at the time okay he told me when we got started

24:59 together uh he was still kind of under the influence that of the therapy and

25:04 thinking that it did him good and you would tell me you don’t understand this is the only place I could come out in

25:10 this is these are these are people the only people that accepted me from who I am these are people I could tell I feel

25:18 like killing myself and they would understand and they would support me this is what I have there so don’t say

25:24 it was all bad um this is part of why it’s so Insidious

25:31 and so dangerous is because it creates this dependency right yes give me this it exists in a world it

25:40 exists in a world where there is nothing else nothing else

25:46 no place for these people to be who they are except the closest that they can be

25:52 in is in these groups that their intention is for them to stop

25:57 right and that’s yes

26:02 uh so so I’m very I feel very like content that I was able to document this

26:09 exact um mechanism that is going on there right it’s it’s a very sophisticated

26:15 machine that they’re running um you know you you really you create a dependency

26:22 and a need and then you do this nefarious dirty work

26:29 um and they do it I was curious to ask about the training of these therapists because it’s done in such a

26:38 very very specific programmatic way I can you know as a therapist right I was

26:44 really watching um what was going on from from a therapeutic standpoint because

26:52 the the Deep level of dependency and the the use of words of healthy and

26:59 authentic and whole um right we’re yeah I don’t know if in Hebrew you know

27:06 the word the Jedi Mind Tricks from Star Wars like how you’re playing really

27:12 really really with people’s minds it’s incredibly incredibly dangerous what

27:17 goes on there um and I’m curious of the training of these therapists are they people with

27:23 phds are they people who who are trained by other is it just sort of this cult

27:28 conversion therapy that goes on but yeah it’s a little complicated the people

27:34 that initiated conversion therapy were trained therapists and many of them still are

27:41 um many many places it’s not legal for trained therapists or for uh therapists

27:48 with with a license to to do conversion therapy uh in Israel for example the

27:53 association of psychology banned conversion therapy so if you are uh

27:59 um a licensed professional therapist you may lose your license if you do that it

28:08 never actually happened in Israel although there are cases that there were

28:13 complaints and so forth but no one actually lost their license but just the

28:18 fact that they may lose their license makes many of them not take on actual

28:24 professional training and not have a license to begin with and then no one can regulate them and regulate them yes

28:32 and they can do it it’s just two people in a room talking so you can’t really uh

28:37 put up any laws against that so people try to regulate it through laws

28:44 and there is a lot of uh um an effect of motivation if there is a

28:51 log if it’s considered illegal it does matter to people whether they look for

28:57 it or not but most of these are not professional trained therapists and therefore they

29:04 can’t be regulated um they still seem to have some sort of oh yeah hey yeah they have a message

29:12 they have a manual barely yes so there are a couple of uh

29:19 different streams in this therapy but I’ve tried I I documented the most main

29:24 biggest stream today which is called reparative therapy um and this is very much uh uh based in

29:34 psychological theories and the psychological practices they’re taking a

29:39 lot from the profession of psychology and kind of adapting it slightly but

29:44 it’s very important points to their agenda

29:50 um so they have an organization a global organization it’s called Brothers road that operates from the United States

29:56 that’s where it was formed and this organization runs workshops all over the

30:02 world and the therapist that that I documented are

30:07 they’re kind of affiliated with that organization and they do themselves

30:12 workshops outside of Israel also so and Israel by the way is the second

30:19 largest like conversion therapy community in the world the first is the United States uh we’re second and then

30:26 we have places like Poland you know and other places in Europe and other types of converter therapy of

30:32 course unfortunately exist in the third world but it’s different

30:38 can you I just want to go back a bit to Lev and talk to me about why you think

30:43 he needed to share his story on the screen um well it’s assumptions from my end

30:50 because I I really um battle with this you say double definitely baffled you were you were

30:58 beautiful yeah um so I I try to think uh what’s going

31:04 on and I felt I feel that through this film because he’s showing who he is the

31:11 way he sees it uh it’s a way for him to change um the way he he is seen in his own mind

31:19 like the way he thinks he’s seen from being a victim to being a hero

31:26 um when people didn’t know that language that you’re using right that that’s sort

31:31 of probably really appeals to him because that’s the technique that comes forth in the conversion Therapy Group

31:37 right it’s all about empowering you to make choices and to say I don’t want to live a gay lifestyle right whatever that

31:44 is I I am a man who happens to like men right they they really try to split it

31:49 out of your identity put it over here and say then you can really persevere

31:55 and uh become empowered enough to put these urges aside and right so it’s like

32:03 that splitting off that they’re asking people to do and so what you’re saying is really interesting in light of the

32:09 techniques that he’s been uh subject to all these years that that’s sort of a he’s now bringing it into his life in

32:17 being willing to speak with you yes you may say this is a continuation of what he’s doing in his therapy

32:26 but it’s it’s you know when he lived his life before the film uh he was just another and like

32:33 in in the eyes of people around him he was just another guy that for some reason takes too long to get married

32:39 yeah you know what’s up with him why doesn’t he you know make the phone call

32:45 to this woman that I gave him the her phone number what’s his problem uh so

32:52 they didn’t know uh what he was dealing with and they and he was just and he

32:57 felt I think just a victim of of hardships but through the film he could demonstrate

33:03 um look I am dealing I am putting up a fight I’m a hero I’m doing the right

33:09 thing it takes a lot of strength it takes a lot of it takes a lot out of me to live this life I think that it’s the

33:17 right thing to do you the people that you know people are that are like him or share the same uh opinion like him also

33:25 think that this is the right thing to do so he’s becoming a hero he’s becoming appreciated for the efforts that he’s

33:31 doing so I think in his own mind that was a way to do that to to take to go up

33:37 on stage and say I’m doing something important um and I think this is one of the

33:44 in my understanding it’s a it’s a terrible tragedy that these people are

33:50 gifted and beautiful and wonderful and sensitive and and talented they could do

33:55 so much with their time uh for themselves and for other people around them and so much of that is going on the

34:02 effort to to to deal with their homosexuality

34:08 um so that’s like something that’s hard for me to see um these choices that they’re making

34:13 them doing all this effort for that do you do you have any updates well first of all

34:20 this movie I guess got completed during coronavirus right that was sort of so

34:25 two years ago you finished we finished the last like a year and a half ago it

34:31 was um uh the Fourth of July uh 2021 was the

34:37 primary yeah do you have any updates on how they are doing now I’m curious you

34:44 know Ben it seems like his trajectory was going to be pretty clear he was able to sort of move forward I’m curious to

34:51 hear if you’re selling so yeah sorry no I’m saying Lev I’m so curious

34:58 if the movie moved him forward he doesn’t need the conversion therapy space anymore to be

35:05 who he is if he was willing to go some public but I’m gonna imagine that not

35:10 much has changed for him so um with Lev I always from the beginning

35:17 I I always dealt with this question how the film is going to impact his life because I felt like I have a

35:22 responsibility and I do believe I have a responsibility if I’m making this intervention in the person’s life and

35:29 I’m a professional they’re just you know people uh I need to consider what this

35:35 may change in his life and he’s taking a huge risk he’s going to For the First Time come out to his old Community to

35:41 the whole world to his family his children uh uh to everyone uh how is

35:48 this going to impact his life so I imagine lots of different uh scenarios

35:53 and the only thing I could never imagine would ever happen is the thing that happened

35:59 and that is nothing nothing absolutely nothing I did not understand at the time

36:06 what a master he is in keeping things toned down to the way they are into just

36:14 like uh freezing his life the way they are and not moving it anywhere so that’s

36:22 where it is as a psychologist right just watching his figure on the screen I think part of what was so tragic is it

36:29 seemed clear to me that nothing would change for him after this movie that’s why I’m asking the question it is that

36:36 so his his vulnerability I I think he needed the catharsis of the

36:43 movie but his defenses are so strongly structured that there was no penetrating

36:48 that that’s just what it is so so I’m I know that was not the outcome you expected but I’m not I’m not so

36:54 surprised that he’s just sort of continuing on

37:00 yeah so he still goes to therapy um his children dealt with him coming out and everything is okay now

37:07 everything is the same uh he’s doing the same he has a role he’s the president of the synagogue still everything is

37:14 exactly the same he doesn’t talk to it talk about it to people around him so much he has a Blog that’s where he

37:22 expresses himself uh he opened the blog the um and I think it’s lev the

37:29 therapy or something like that um and uh he shares his ideas and

37:36 thoughts over there and people are welcome to to write to him the community Facebook community did not shun him I’m

37:43 assuming no and I think uh he just found a way to uh communicate to everyone that just

37:52 leave it alone just don’t talk to me about it don’t deal with it don’t mention it just ignore it let’s move

38:00 let’s be the same and that’s the kind of transmission that he’s managed to give

38:05 everyone and everyone just you know same okay a person’s defenses to manage that kind

38:11 of cognitive dissonance have got to be incredibly incredibly strong right

38:18 um Ben what’s with him uh Ben is blooming wonderfully uh I’m

38:25 very very we’re good friends now uh and uh I’m very happy all the time to see

38:32 him progressing I should say he had a very difficult time and he’s still struggling with

38:38 um the relationships with his family um that kind of stayed the way it was in

38:44 the film like his his relationships yeah

38:50 um but Ben has been persistent in demanding his rights from his father and

38:55 from his family that they should accept him the way he is and respect his choices and

39:02 um not conditioned like you can you may come to our home only if you do this

39:07 only if you do that uh it’s still kind of a battle that he’s fighting

39:13 um there are wins and there are uh loses uh but uh losses but um

39:20 he’s working on that and he’s also now an activist for gay rights in Jerusalem

39:26 he’s an um he’s a staff member in the Jerusalem open house which is the queer

39:33 Community Center here in Jerusalem and he’s been a very uh vocal activist

39:41 against conversion therapy he’s writing about it

39:47 has he found a new therapist yes uh he definitely has

39:54 um and uh yeah I still don’t know how to do this but I’m trying to find a way to help him

40:00 financially uh to to get this therapy because he doesn’t get support from his parents obviously uh to do that and he’s

40:08 just you know starting out life and he has that’s from being the student yeah so it’s a not a cheap Prospect this

40:16 across yeah so we’re hoping to have like a campaign for uh people I can uh for

40:23 people to be able to help her mental health in Israel yeah for people that has been through conversion therapy and

40:30 most of them are in the same situation they have debts they they don’t have their support from their families and

40:35 they are in serious need for uh therapy that will

40:40 you know help with this situation the struggle it really is

40:47 um okay I know we are going to need to wrap up but um I’m curious the very end of the scene

40:52 right that the last part of the movie is talking about this bill that

40:58 the future is sort of unknown and I’m curious I know you had really wrote today in Israel right yes we’re

41:05 recording this in the day of Elections I’m actually coming back from filming uh

41:11 uh my next film is in the ultra Orthodox community in Jerusalem also okay wait

41:17 hold on no I want I want that to be my last question I want to ask about it or

41:22 just to leave them here for a second and then yeah so about the Bill about the Bill about the bill and whether or not

41:28 the outcome of this election is going to impact that yes so the bill passing the first voting

41:37 in the film was a miracle um these things don’t usually work in

41:42 Israel because of the power of the ultra Orthodox um uh parties yeah

41:48 um so somehow one voting passed but of course the government was uh

41:54 um the government fell and it’s back to square one so if

42:00 miraculously we have uh um a government now that is more left-wing and liberal

42:07 then maybe it could happen again and happen enough time because it requires

42:14 three times votings for the bill to become a law uh so you know we should

42:19 see and Hope okay and my last question is can you

42:25 please tell us um about your next project

42:30 yeah so uh it’s a film uh about a person called yaakov Israel Dehan he is an

42:37 ultra orthodox anti-zionist um openly homosexual Jew from the beginning

42:46 of the 20th century wow that was the spokesperson for the anti-zionist

42:52 Orthodox movement in Jerusalem while publishing homosexual literature uh in

42:58 the Netherlands where he grew up but he lived here in Jerusalem and he was

43:04 assassinated in the first political assassination in modern Israel 1944 and

43:10 I’m making a film about his life and about his Heritage to this day he is a

43:17 hero for ultra-orthodox people here in Jerusalem and uh queer Freedom Fighters

43:25 Jerusalem and in the Netherlands so I just came back from filming a

43:31 protest against participating in the elections by the ultra Orthodox uh and

43:36 to the zionists here in Tucson and when can we expect to see this film

43:42 I hope to be finished in one year and then she’ll be able to see it in about a

43:47 year and a half something like that and the the life of the therapy now it

43:53 sounds like it’s won an award I’m curious just how it’s been received how

43:58 the how the releases have been going um and security yeah

44:05 um so we’re distributed by an LA company of the film collaborative and we

44:11 premiered in North America in the Santa Barbara from International Film Festival uh we’ll be streaming the San Francisco

44:19 Jewish Film Festival in um your Festival various festivals in the

44:27 United States and in Europe we’ve been in like 18 film festivals so far and Counting uh

44:37 and we’re looking for deals with um uh Distributors of you know streaming and

44:42 broadcast in in the United States and the world so if anyone knows anyone so

44:48 was the film shown why they find me on Facebook sorry is the film shown widely

44:53 widely in Israel as well yes it made a very powerful impact in

45:01 Israel the minister of Health came to the premier uh and and heard us talking

45:09 in the panel uh later he issued um a statement

45:14 prohibiting conversion therapy by his office it’s not actually a legal ban

45:21 because uh it wasn’t a law it was just like a declaration of intent uh or like

45:27 a condemnation of the Ministry of Health against computer therapy um but that made an impact here in

45:34 Israel so now of course the government is changing but anyway it feels like we had

45:40 a serious impact here we were all over the museum and so forth so I felt like

45:45 in in our small community of Israel there was an impact okay well

45:51 this has been a pleasure I wish you two projects

45:57 good luck well and that you keep fighting the good fight you’re doing good work thank you

46:03 so much thank you thank you for having me here my pleasure and I’ll just add my thanks

46:10 to both of you for really a fascinating conversation

46:15 um so much about you know I think three lots of times we were talking really about the film how is it made how is it

46:21 shot but because of Ali’s background and your openness we could really have um really hear

46:28 about a whole different kind of conversation so we really appreciate that it was really so interesting thank

46:34 you so much good luck with the film and your next film please keep in touch with us let us know

46:39 the progress um we’re an annual Festival so we look forward to it I hope to see you here in

46:46 two years then I hope so okay got it all right thank you thank you everyone for

46:52 joining us bye thank you bye

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