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USA: Zeitgeist Films
Director: Pearl Gluck
Countries: USA / Hungary / Ukraine / Israel
Languages: Hungarian / Yiddish / English (English subtitles)
USA: 77 mins
USA Release Date: 17 March 2004 (Limited Release - New York)
DIVAN breaks the mold of Hasidic storytelling and takes an unorthodox approach to a religious icon, an ancestral divan in Hungary that illuminates both the conflict and necessity of repairing the fractured trajectory of personal history and identity. Divan is a visual parable that crosses family heritage with the possibility of culturally reupholstering a couch.
As a renegade approach to healing a breach between herself and her father, Pearl travels from the Hasidic Jewish community of Brooklyn where she was raised to her roots in Hungary, to retrieve a turn-of-the-century family heirloom, her great grandfather's couch upon which revered rebbes once slept. This, she hopes, will take the place of what her father really wants her to do: get married and return to the Hasidic world.
En route toward the ancestral divan, Pearl encounters a colorful casts of characters who provide guidance and inspiration, including her great aunt Malke in Boro Park, Joli the ex-communist in Budapest, Billy Bacsi the Yiddish guide to the Ukraine, Meshulem Rottenberg, the descendent of the Kossonye rebbe who slept on the couch, and the Hungarian-American matchmakers who try to connect Pearl with her soul mate.
The entire tale is framed by a chorus of men and women who sit on the couch, formerly Orthodox Jews who are actively reclaiming Jewish culture. The five-year project was inspired on a Fulbright grant in Hungary, encouraged by the Sundance Institute, and finished on a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, and in-kind support from the Minneapolis Film and TV Board.