ISRAEL / 2002 / Hebrew, English / Color / Video / 63 min
Director, Script: Anat Zuria
Photography: Nurith Aviv, Nili Azlan, Shiri Bar-On
Editing: Era Lapid
Music: Jonathan Bar Giora
Producer: Amit Breuer
Production Company, Source: Amythos Films
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An examination of Jewish religious married life and sexuality. Scenes of a family participating in a sacred purification ritual, the struggles of women in a male-dominated society, and relationships and sex dictated by religious commandments. Women state their opinions frankly to the camera, challenging the 2,000-year-old taboos of Jewish religious law. The rich countenances of the women and the serene images of water are unforgettable.
[Directors Statement] In the film Purity I am touching an ancient Jewish taboo, the strict world of laws concerning women’s purity and impurity. These laws control and shape the most intimate aspects of life—the sexuality of religious women. The laws deal with the female body, the menstrual cycle and sexuality, issues that are highly sensitivity and potentially painful.
The ritual of purification is more than 2,000 years old, and revolves around women’s menstrual cycle. The state of impurity prevails through the monthly menstrual period and the seven days that follow it. Women are forbidden to have any physical contact with their husbands before being purified. The purification process can only be completed after bathing in the Miqveh water.
The ancient laws of purification are still observed by religious couples. In modern times those ancient laws may harm those who strictly follow them.
The film Purity is a personal film, trying to examine as an outsider a world that is part of my culture, an integral part of my life. It describes the tradition and laws of purification as a refined trap, methodically oppressing femininity.
The film presents the story of three women, friends. While I am the one going through the actual process of purification in the film, the women around me are the ones expressing the conflict that tears them apart. They are obliged to follow the tradition, an ancient religious law of the society they live in, which collides with their thoughts and individual feelings. Each one experiences the purification ritual profoundly, and pays a price for that. Neither of them manages to escape the trap.
The film doesn’t offer a solution. The conflict between patriarchal laws and feminine voice prevails.
Graduated from the Ramat Hasharon Arts College and the Ma’ale School of Communications, Israel. Artist, as well as writer for magazines dealing with arts and Judaism, and documentary editor. Artworks have been shown in distinguished galleries in Israel and abroad. Teaches film directing at Maa’le Film School. Directed and edited Klachi in the Holyland (1999), which received First Prize from Keshet/2nd Channel. Purity won the First Prize for Best Documentary in the Jewish Experience Category at the Jerusalem International Film Festival 2002.