The circumscribed role of women in orthodox Jewish society is studied in this somber, lyrical pic, named best docu at last year’s Jerusalem fest. It also won Anat Zuria a best-helmer prize at the human rights fest in Prague. “Purity” will be controversial wherever it goes. High-quality approach suggests it could have life outside specialized interest.
Non-narrated effort concentrates on “miqveh”, or bathing ritual intended to cleanse menstruating and post-partum women so they don’t sully their husbands. It looks at three women: one who oversees the ritual, one who has left the fold, and another starting to feel hemmed in by the arcane rules that separate men and women. Most affecting segs, suggesting all-or-nothing nature of fundamentalism, involve the first woman, shorthaired and alone in the now-empty family dwelling. She projects wedding slides on white walls and describes her marital relations as “a commandment, a kind of rape.” Elsewhere, daughter of the miqveh mistress says she “can’t relate to” the rituals, but is drawn into them as she enters her own marriage.