Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 7, No. 5, 2008
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Mark Goldfarb
  Contributing Editors
Bernard Dubé
Diane Gordon
Robert Rotondo
Sylvain Richard
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
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Emanuel Pordes
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
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Shanghai Ghetto
Talk to Her
City of God
Magdalene Sisters
Dirty Pretty Things
Barbarian Invasions
Fog of War
Blind Shaft
The Corporation
Station Agent
The Agronomist
Maria Full of Grace
Man Without a Past
In This World
Buffalo Boy
Shake Hands with the Devil
Born into Brothels
The Edukators
Big Sugar
A Long Walk
An Inconvenient Truth
Sisters In Law
Send a Bullet
Banking on Heaven
Chinese Botanist's Daugher
Ben X
La Zona
The Legacy
Irina Palm
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
Poor Boys Game
Finn's Girl

eric scott's


reviewed by

Sylvain Richard



Sylvain Richard is a film critic at Arts & Opinion. He gave Leaving the Fold, which played at the 2008 Montreal World Film Festival, 3.1 out of 4 stars. For the rest of his ratings, click HERE.

As per Webster’s Dictionary, a fold is an enclosure for sheep, or the sheep contained in it. Fold also refers to the members of a Church. To fold sheep means to contain them. To enfold means to wrap up or envelope.

As the word suggests, leaving any fold is a difficult undertaking and it is the subject of Eric Scott’s riveting documentary, Leaving the Fold, which premiered at the 2008 Montreal International World Film Festival.

The docu follows the lives of five Hasidic Jews in three different cities (Montreal, New York and Jerusalem), who no longer subscribe to the core values of Hasidic culture.

From the opening moments of the film, director Eric Scott goes to great pains to show that his film is not about his personal take on Hasidism, but rather the characters who have decided to leave the fold and pursue the secular option, which they believe is more compatible with their longings and ambitions.

As they turn their backs to the certainties of the past and endeavor to embrace the new that is fraught with all sorts of hazards, they rudely discover there is a price to pay, that on the other side of the fence the grass is only ‘somewhat’ greener, but green enough. The dissenters are both surprised and discomfited by the anger and ostracism from both family and community because they have not fully grasped the implications of their leaving, which is nothing less than a slash and burn criticism of the culture they have rejected.

Nonetheless, as they take up their new secular positions (Hasidism forbade Basya from becoming a musician), they come to retrospectively appreciate what the fold offers: relief from making major life decisions, social and community safety nets with which secularism can’t begin to compete and a way of life that minimalizes risk taking. In short, they learn that leaving the fold is more easily done physically than psychologically.

It is to Eric Scott’s credit that we sympathize with the leavers of the fold without aspersing Hasidism or any fold or institution that curtails the freedom of its membership.

Scott, who previously gave us The Other Zionist (2004) and Je Me Souviens (1998), has provided a provocative glimpse of what it takes and entails to leave the fold, including folds of our own making.

My only quibble with this fine film was with its length, only 52 minutes, which simply wasn’t enough time to spend with Scott’s thoroughly engaging, complex characters.

For the ratings of all the 2008 Montreal World Filmfest films, click HERE.
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