Monday, September 23, 2013

Sukkah City The Documentary.

   Tonight I saw the documentary Sukkah City at the JCC in Manhattan. It was screened for free in Union Square on Sunday night but I unfortunately I had other plans so I missed joining the 400 people who were there for the screening . I hate crowds  but it would have be cool. It was pretty cool to see it at the JCC tonight. Th filmmaker Jason Hutt was there as well as Danny Passow the rabbi who who Joshua Foer consulted for the competition and Henry Grossman  1/2 of the creative team of Henry Grossman and Babak Bryan who created the winning sukkah called Fractured Bubble.
fractured bubble
 Sukkah City was the brainchild of Joshua Foer who wanted to raise awareness of what a sukkah is by creating a competition for architects to use the biblical parameters to create a winning sukkah. Twelve of these sukkahs were to be displayed in Union Square and the those who  viewed the sukkahs would choose the winner.
  Jason Hutt's documentary covers the competition from start to finish. He interviews the contestants as well as the jurors who chose which sukkahs to include in the Sukkah City display in Union Square. He also shows footage of the eclectic mix of people who viewed the city of sukkahs in 2010.,                            Many of the contestants were architects who never actually built anything they had designed so it was enjoyable for them to actually create their designs.
     Though they had been instructed to create sukkahs that were halachacally correct most of the sukkahs used the guidelines loosely.
    I found it quite enjoyable to listen to what the largely gentile contestants thought about making sukkahs and how serious they took the challenge. It was equally enjoyable to see the jurors choose the sukkahs . One sukkah that was excluded from the competition was one that would have made the Union Square subway stairs into a sukkah. The designer had proposed to put schach across the handrails of the subway station to create a sukkah. It would have been cool, but as in the movie 12 Angry Men,there was one person who objected and a lot of lively discussion which ended up excluding this sukkah from the mix.
      At the  end of the film they showed the reactions of many of those who viewed the display  of sukkahs which included Dr. Ruth Westheimer. My favorite sukkah viewers were the little boys who brought tape measures and analysed whether or not they thought the sukkahs were kosher.
     I had been one of the many viewers of those sukkahs. I think that it was an amazing project. The project made so many aware of what a sukkah is . It was funny to see what the designers  created and how different they were from any sukkah I have ever visited, but I looked at them as art and no one was going to actually use one for the Sukkot holiday .
     The documentary was informative and captured the spirit of Sukkah City the event. It will be shown again tomorrow night at the JCC in Manhattan.
Danny Passow, Jason Hutt, Henry Grossman


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