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Hadassah Chavivah Zeitzer Speaks on 'A Reynah in Exile': A Director's Journey Explored

As the curtain rises on cinematic artistry, we step into the world of 'A Reynah in Exile' guided by the lens and vision of director Hadassah Chavivah Zeitzer. In this exclusive interview, Zeitzer warmly invites us into the heart of her filmmaking journey. Join us as we embark on a heartfelt conversation delving into the inspirations, challenges, and the creative process that shaped the compelling narrative of 'A Reynah in Exile.'

American Dream Screen : In the current landscape of independent cinema, what do you believe sets your film apart from the rest and makes it a unique and compelling addition to the medium?

Hadassah Chavivah Zeitzer : I think what sets me apart from most Independent Filmmakers out there today is that I made my whole short film documentary by myself on my mac. Pro using their I-movie Platform on a small shoe-string budget.

I wrote, directed, and edited the film myself as well as played the lead Charter “Reynah” in the film.

I also did all of the administrative work including licensing the music from the world class musician and composer Sa Re Ga Ma as the backdrop of the film.

I did all of this not because I think I am so great but rather to show that even when a person finds him or herself in the most horrific of circumstances that they can still draw on both their inner strength and “ G-d” to achieve the most impossible of tasks and transcend their limitations to create something beautiful useful and healing to themselves and others.

American Dream Screen : Independent filmmaking often encourages creative risk-taking. Can you share a specific instance where you had to make a bold creative decision during the production of your film, and how did it impact the final product?

Hadassah Chavivah Zeitzer : I was dealing with some very serious mental health issues at the time it was impacting my quality of life and my very life itself. I wanted to document my experience and also make something that was tangible in case I did not make it out of this situation alive.

I wanted my suffering and the suffering of other men and women just like me to have a voice and be accounted for since I believe all human life is valuable and sequel in G-ds eyes.

It was a huge risk to make this film since I did not go to film school and my disability affects my executive functioning skills and my cognitive skills. I made the whole film by myself and did all of the editing in a 72-hour period because I really thought I was not going to survive what I was going through.

I wanted some type of evidence that I once lived and that my life and the lives of other men and women just like me are valuable and precious in the creators eyes, despite the intolerance and indifference we all have experienced in one form or another because of various situations we might find ourselves in during our lives journey were some people who might view are circumstances from only the outside make up assumptions and views that are false and due to those false perceptions treat us not fairly or in a inhumane way.

It was a big risk just to do this under these circumstances but my risk did paid off and my short film documentary has won many awards and recognition even amongst much for seasoned and educated filmmakers.

My hope for my film is for it to been seen worldwide and so I can share the real story behind the etherical images and great music and be able to partner with other filmmakers and innovative and creative people so I can start my 501C The Queen Esther One Dollar Fund.

The Queen Esther One Dollar Fund will be the first 501C to support Clergy Abuse survivors of all faiths have the financial resources they need to rebuild their lives and have a life worth living.

American Dream Screen : Collaboration is a fundamental aspect of filmmaking. Could you elaborate on a particularly memorable or challenging collaboration experience with a member of your cast or crew and how it influenced the project?

Hadassah Chavivah Zeitzer : Like I said since I am a low -income person and did not have a lot of resources to hire a lot of people to help with the production of the film. That is why I had to teach myself to learn the I-movie platform on my own so I could actually make the film and do all the editing by myself for each shot and frame on the film on my computer.

I did work with the musician and artist Sa Re Ga Ma who I contacted directly from his website and was able to license his amazing piece of music that I had found watching a PBS documentary year earlier called One Thousand and One Nights.

I thought he was a brilliant artist and composer and he really liked my idea for my movie and I was able to license the music from him directly. His music was the inspiration for the whole story I wrote and his amazing music was the back drop for the whole story and short film documentary.

One Thousand and One Nights

(featuring Hamelin Bérengnier) (2007)

I also worked with Harvard Law Transactional Law Clinic and Professor Brain Price (he is on sabbatical at the moment) and several of his Law Students who helped me register my short film documentary with the United States office of copyright as well as support my efforts for a fair non-exclusive distribution deal with Movie Karma.

Movie Karma at the time was a new social media platform and film distribution company that worked with filmmakers and artists whose films had a social justice theme like my film has.

They also gave the filmmakers an opportunity to support a non-profit and donate some of their revenue from the viewing of the film their favorite social justice causes of their choice with some of the views of their film.

My 501C that I chose was SNAP. Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

They are already doing the work I would like to do for survivors of clergy abuse from all faiths. And I also have a link for their no-profit on my home page of my company website ( Tzeh-dek) so people who would like to support this cause can do so now while my 501C is still getting set up.

I found most of my collaborations fun and exciting but when it came down to the contracts and the legalities of the deals I found that challenging and hard and was grateful for the legal representation.

American Dream Screen : Can you discuss the artistic influences and choices that informed the film's visual aesthetics and how they complemented the narrative?

Hadassah Chavivah Zeitzer : Since the music I chose for the back drop of my story had a Middle Eastern vibe it helped me shape the narrative of my short film and the narrative of my main character “Reynah”.

“Reynah’s” life story is inspired by my own real-life journey and odyssey.

I wanted to make the story with an ethereal aesthetic and tell “Reynah” story through lens of “fantasy” and have many different layers of symbolism and social justice themes woven and hidden throughout the whole story and film.

I wanted to challenge the audience to take a look deeper look at what was going on in the film and to see if they could figure out what was going on just beneath the surface of the films story and what was being “Hidden in Plain Site” the other name for my short film documentary.

American Dream Screen : The post-production process is where a film truly takes shape. How did you approach the editing, sound design, and music composition in your film to enhance the storytelling and emotional impact?

Hadassah Chavivah Zeitzer : Since I was dealing with some very serious fair housing issues at the time I made my film I did the best I could to make the whole film including the editing and production in a total of 72 hours going no-stop for a period of 12 or more hours at a time to make sure I could actually finish the film and have product to document what I was doing in case I was not going to survive the situation I was in.

I am sure the way I made my film is not the ideal way to do things but it kept the creativity flowing and I think I did a great job conveying what I was hoping to do with the final product in the amount of time I had to make the film.

As I mentioned earlier in one of the earlier questions I had that amazing piece of music by SaReGaMa to work with and it played the whole time while I was making my film.

Thank G-d I made the whole film and finished all the production and editing on my film within the very small window of time I had to work with and I was very happy with the final product.

American Dream Screen : Can you share a challenging moment during the production of your film and how you overcame it, ultimately making the project stronger or more meaningful?

Hadassah Chavivah Zeitzer : To be honest, the whole film was changing since my formal training is in music and teaching and not filmmaking.

I felt compelled to go out of my comfort zone to do this because I really wanted my story to be told and heard.

I also wanted to make meaning out of my suffering so my life would not have been in vain and that maybe my story could be an inspiration and hope for many other men and women just like Reynah get out of a very narrow and confined place. And use their creativity and G-d given talents and gifts to get out their own personal “Exile” to.

I also wrote an op-ed that you can find on my company website under the tab that goes into more into detail about the specific facts and the quantifiable evidence that supports my

storyline and the narrative of my short film documentary that is called

“A Reynah in Exile” also known as “Hidden in Plain sight.”

Please see link below:

We are so pleased again to be chosen to be one of your finalists in your film festival, thank you.

Zeitzer's insights have provided a rare glimpse into the delicate art of storytelling, leaving us with a deeper appreciation for the film's emotional depth and narrative richness.

As we bid farewell, 'A Reynah in Exile' stands not just as a film but as a testament to Zeitzer's ability to bring stories to life with authenticity and grace.

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