At the Wailing Wall or in the spotlight of a stage, wearing a Zorro costume or a designer dress, solemn or rollicking: crossing the threshold to the adult world can take place in very different ways. This film accompanies four 12-year-olds – Sharon, Tom, Moishy and Sophie – as they prepare for their bar or bat mitzvot. It takes a critical and ironic look at Jewish tradition and its interpretations, questions the significance of initiation rituals, and attempts to explore the diffuse terrain of adolescence.

DVCam/35mm - 90’ – 1:1,85
Dolby Digital - OV german / english / hebrew
subtitles: german, english, french

A film by Ruth Beckermann
Cinematography Nurith Aviv, Leena Koppe, André Wanne
Sound Günther Tuppinger, Stefan Holzer
Editing Dieter Pichler, Thomas Woschitz
with Tom Sattler, Moishy Ortner, Sharon Mamistvalov, Sophie Landesmann, André Wanne, and many others...

Premiere 10.3.2006, Paris, Cinéma du Réel
Cinema release 15.12. 2006, Votiv Kino, Vienna
Festivals Viennale, Paris, Buenos Aires, Chicago, L.A. etc.

ZORROS BAR MITZVA is, possibly, a film more about representation than about religion. I am interested in questions such as: How do people represent themselves? How do they interact within the family? How do they want to be seen? All this is very important when one holds such a celebration.
RUTH BECKERMANN in conversation with KARIN SCHIEFER/AFC news

ZORRO’S BAR MITZVA follows a complex and compact dramaturgy, which has religious ceremonial intertwined with problems of growing up and questions of representation. It accompanies Tom, Sharon, Moishy and Sophie, four twelve-year olds in Vienna while getting prepared for their Bar Mitzva and Bat Mitzva respectively. Apart from the chief rabbi and the cantor, a filmmaker, André Wanne, is also accorded a special role: depending on the family’s wishes and budget, he captures the festivities or shoots clips with the teenagers, in which they can present themselves as the whim takes them. Ruth Beckermann’s recent work is a successful attempt to find a new awareness,
a new perspective: not to make a film about the past, but about the future.

MICHAEL OMASTA, Falter Nr. 50/2006

The Bar Mitzva is a religious and family celebration that consists of three parts: Preparation – religious ceremony – family celebration. These three stages correspond with the rites of passage’s tripartite structure, as defined by anthropologists: separation – liminality – incorporation. The Bar Mitzva can be referred to as the art of untying knots. It enables the adolescents to loosen the childlike ties to their parents in order to feel as a part of a bigger system.
MARC-ALAIN OUAKNIN, FRANCOISE-ANNE MÉNAGER: Bar-Mitsva. Un livre pour grandir; Paris 2005


Paulus Hochgatterer