» » Ezer Kenegdo (2017)

Short summary

Frictions develop when Yisroel "Izzy" Jonigkeyt, a Chassidic Jew from Crown Heights, travels to San Francisco to visit Polish-born Catholic friend Marek Wisniewski with the intent of discovering why a Bay Area art-world iconoclast named Harry Kierk seeks to destroy a lifetime's worth of his own work. As the visit progresses, Izzy and Marek discover for the first time that complex historical baggage impinges on their curious friendship and, soon, they begin to understand why Kierk is driven towards destruction. Continued encounters with Marek's vaguely anti-Semitic cousin Irek (who is their only gateway to contact Kierk) only compound these tensions.

The title "ezer kenegdo" translates as a helpmate/rescuer and a force of resistance (in the same breath).

There is a sequence of the film shot at 770 Eastern Parkway, the worldwide headquarters of Chabad Lubavitch. With actor Joshua Safdie and actor-director Daniel Kremer, the filmmakers snuck cameras into 770 and shot the sequence guerrilla style. They were featured in a Lubavitch news service the very next day.

Director's Trademark: [Movie within the movie] Daniel Kremer always features a scene with a film playing on a television or in a screening space. In this, Marek and Irek watch Humanity and Paper Balloons (1937) and imitate the Japanese actors in that film.

The film spent nearly five years in editing and post-production. Production started in January 2013; the film finally premiered in November 2017 at the Joseph Conrad Festival in Krakow, Poland. Many versions and rough cuts were shown to various audiences over these years. Responding to feedback, a number of scenes were reshot, and the ending was changed four times. Because of the nature of the production, striking the right balance in editing was challenging. This film officially launched the Bricolage Film Collective, though the other Bricolage productions would be released well before this one was.

Daniel Kremer: [Handwritten letters] Crumpled up in the pocket of an old suit jacket, Izzy unexpectedly finds a letter that Levi had written to him years ago. In a key scene, the letter is read to Marek.

Credited cast:
Daniel Kremer Daniel Kremer - Yisroel 'Izzy' Jonigkeyt
Deniz Demirer Deniz Demirer - Marek Wisniewski
Rob Nilsson Rob Nilsson - Harry Kierk
Josh Safdie Josh Safdie - Levi
Kris Caltagirone Kris Caltagirone - Irek Stuhr
Alanna Blair Alanna Blair - Leah Devorah Salazer
William Cully Allen William Cully Allen - Rabbi Spieler
K.J. Linhein K.J. Linhein - Rabbi Topin
Penny Werner Penny Werner - Minnie
Shelley Caltagirone Shelley Caltagirone - Audrey
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Menachem Mendel Azoulay Menachem Mendel Azoulay - Mendy
Beila-Ayala Baruch Beila-Ayala Baruch - Mushkie Salazer
Shelley Caltagirone Shelley Caltagirone - Audrey
Daniel da Silva Daniel da Silva - Dominic
Christopher Damm Christopher Damm - Marek's Cameraman
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