Sentenced to Marriage

Anat Zuria, Israel, 2004
Synopsis

For two years, the director – who previously made the excellent film PURITY – has been following the struggle of Tamara, Michelle and Rachel, three young Israeli women doing everything humanly possible to obtain a divorce. With the help of a group of female orthodox rabbinical advocates, they fight the rigid laws of the Jewish community, according to which husbands who leave their wives and children to live with other women can still deny their legal wives divorce. In most cases they do not even pay child support. The absurdity is that these very modern, quite independent and well-educated women are in some cases forced to buy the divorce from their husbands for a lot of money. The drama in the film is presented with an excellently structured narrative that follows the different cases from one stage to the next. The anger of a young wife with four children who is denied a divorce for almost five years, and the calm and friendly preparations by the lawyers and wives, are powerfully interpolated with sound recordings of the amazingly Kafkaesque court sessions featuring the rabbinical judges, the husbands and their lawyers on one side, and the frustrated wives and their solicitors on the other. The wives are denied other relationships and are condemned to be chaste, because extramarital affairs are forbidden to women in Israel. They are trapped in religious courts for years and their destiny is out of their hands.

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