Purim Shpiel (also title of film)

Created by Yashar Alishenas, The Pitch 2013

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The visual composition of the pitch is supposed to convey the basic structure of the actual film: the continuous shot in the static frame of a domestic setting corresponds to the fact that the entire film is set within one family house during one evening. Further, the writing and performance style of the pitch should suggest the genre and tone of the film: despite the unity of place and time, the film will cut back and forth between different locations (e.g. kitchen and balcony) and thus render the tone of the film frantic, high-paced, and, in terms of references to theology and philosophy, erratically high-brow. What might come across as an improvised pitching style might be at odds with the actual film insofar as the screenplay has been and will be meticulously (re)written. The spontaneous nature of the pitch is part of an attempt not only to pitch, but also to find a way to make the film come alive by reenacting (compressed) key fragments of the film rather than explicitly describing the plot, perhaps at the price of not being entirely crystal clear on every step taken.

Biblical Connection

The main biblical inspiration for Purim Shpiel is the Book of Esther and its core theme of identity: collective, hidden, threatened, revealed. Another, less predominant strand of biblical inspiration, which is not mentioned in the pitch, is the injunction to love your neighbour as yourself. Both elements of the Bible are juxtaposed in a contemporary, multicultural context fraught with tension and unease: a British-Jewish family celebrating Purim has to come to terms with the fact that their daughter has an Iranian-German partner. The Book of Esther is thus turned on its head, as the film’s protagonist of Iranian extraction tries to hide his identity in a Jewish context, where his perceived identity is associated with nuclear bombs and the Holocaust. His intrusive presence in the midst of what was supposed to be a jovial Purim dinner party sets off a string of dilemmas with biblical echoes that are as pertinent as ever: How far should you go in hiding yourself, especially when love is at stake? Or, from the family’s perspective, how far should you go in protecting those you love from the difficult truth? How is an intruding neighbour to be treated: with denial, tolerance, respect or love?