April’s Online Short: MATZAH BALLS: THE FIFTH QUESTION

Celebrate Passover with this spirited, short animated comedy.

Equal parts The Ten Commandments and Mel Brooks, April’s Online Short uses animation and comedy to explore the historic origins of a classic staple of Jewish cuisine and its relationship to the holiday of Passover. Once you have seen this “true” story, you may never look at your balls the same way again.

David Singer, USA, 2017, 4 min., English.
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JFI will host a live-stream screening of the film with director David Singer taking questions in the comments on Facebook Live on Wednesday, March 28 at 12:30PM PST. Click here to watch the livestream.

Read a Q&A with director David Singer below:

JFI: What inspired you to make this film?

Singer: The original idea was sparked by a conversation I had at lunch with my brother-in-law, where we typically solve all world issues. We were discussing the true contributions of the internet to society, and one of the more significant ones we joked, was the availability of videos of people getting knocked in the ‘ol’ testament’. It was then that I thought of doing a series of short films showing how various historic moments could have gone very differently if someone decided to ….you know…and it all just went from there . . .

JFI: What was your greatest challenge during the filmmaking process?

Singer: The greatest challenge for me was in the editing. I ended up with a first cut of the project that delivered according to what my original concept was. But, when I tested it out with friends and family, it became clear that the joke wasn’t hitting quite right. I think I felt the premise was a little on the nose so to compensate I got a little too subtle with the dialogue and the pacing suffered. The joke got a bit lost in the process. I needed to go back to the drawing board to try and find the most effective and direct way to communicate a simple idea. It was a fun learning experience.

I’d have to say the most welcomed challenge of the project was managing not to crack up while recording my daughter’s audio.

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JFI: Any thoughts you’d like to share about screening this film in a Jewish context?

Singer: In my personal experience, it seems regardless of wherever you fall on the spectrum of observance (JEW-ish! or jew-ISH?), there’s a rich cultural history of being able to laugh at ourselves. I hope this film is viewed with this in mind. If I have a dream for this project, it’s that when families gather for their Passover seders, they take a moment to look down at their matzah ball soup and can’t help but giggle.

JFI: What film/media has inspired you lately?

Singer: I am a father of two young girls and there is no greater joy than getting to introduce them to the movies that inspired me as a child and seeing what still resonates. I love seeing what sparks a sense of wonder in them from any Spielberg movie, or what still gets a laugh from them when we watch Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs for the hundredth time.

JFI: What do you do when you’re not filmmaking?

Singer: Thankfully a typical story of balancing professional and family life (and stealing time away at unreasonable hours to hack away at passion projects).

JFI: Lastly, gefilte fish: delicious, or disgusting?

Singer: Maybe this should be the subject of a follow up project — Gefilte Fish: The Sixth Question?

Each month, the Jewish Film Institute presents a new free short film to watch online from emerging voices in Jewish documentary, narrative and experimental filmmaking, accompanied by an interview with the film’s director. To watch more JFI Online Shorts, visit the archive of free films here.

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Inspiring communities to expand their understanding of Jewish life through film, media and dialogue. Presented by the Jewish Film Institute! www.jfi.org

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