Movie by haredi filmmaker has women-only screening in London after all

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — An Israeli movie by a haredi Orthodox filmmaker was screened for a women-only audience in London after two scheduled all-female screenings were canceled.

A private, invitation-only screening of “Gift of Fire” by Rechy Elias was held Friday afternoon at the northwest London Jewish community center JW3. Orthodox and non-Orthodox women were in attendance, the London-based Jewish Chronicle reported.

JW3 had canceled a women-only screening as part of its the Israeli Film and Television Festival, Seret 2015, after legal advice that it would be in violation of equality laws in England.

A complaint to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission by a male moviegoer set the cancellation in motion.

A previous screening scheduled for a movie theater in the London borough of Camden had been canceled after the theater said it would not enforce excluding men from the show.

“Gift of Fire” tells the story of a young religious Jewish woman living under a false identity after fleeing the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century, and shows women singing and dancing. It has only been shown in Israeli community centers, according to the daily newspaper The Guardian.

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