USA, 2018 / 85 min / English OV with English subt. / Documentary
A portrait of the challenges and eventual triumph of Hasidic Jewish women creating space for a new profession
In the Hasidic enclave of Borough Park, Brooklyn, ambulance corps have long been the province of men. Though the neighbourhood is home to the largest volunteer EMS corps in the world, that organisation has steadfastly banned women from its ranks. Now Rachel Freier, a no-nonsense Hasidic lawyer and a cast of dogged Hasidic women are risking their reputations – and, literally, the futures of their children – by taking matters into their own hands to create the first all-female ambulance corps in New York City, and provide dignified emergency medical care to the Hasidic women and girls of Borough Park. Through it all, the women grapple to balance their faith with their nascent feminism, even as they are confronted by the patriarchal attitudes that so dominate the Hasidic society.
With unprecedented and exclusive access, 93Queen follows the formation and launch of Ezras Nashim through the organisation’s first year on the ground. The spine of the film observes the highs – and the lows – of creating an organisation against incredible odds, as well as the women’s struggles to “have it all” as wives and mothers.
Followed by a discussion with director Paula Eiselt and representatives from the Corps Grand-Ducal Incendie et Secours: Sandra Bettendorf (Chef de salle du Central des Secours d’Urgence -112) and Paul Schroeder (Directeur Général and Chef de Corps du CGDIS).
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“Forget Supergirl and Wonder Woman. To see a real female superhero in action, check out Paula Eiselt’s documentary concerning the creation of an all-female, Hasidic EMT corps.” Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, 08/05/2018
“Both U.S. and international buyers were drawn to the film’s story of female empowerment within a community that’s rarely represented on screen, particularly in such a positive, inspiring way. First-time director Paula Eiselt stole the show with her parting line: ‘Change isn’t made by the women who leave; change is made by the women who stay.’” Anthony Kaufman, IndieWire, 10/05/2017
“93Queen […] does offer a more nuanced view of ultra-Orthodox Jews than is presented in films like One of Us from last year. With denying that these women face discrimination in reaching their goal, the movie shows how its subjects are able to find ways to combine strict observance and progress. The contradictions aren’t always easy to square […] but the movie’s upshot is heartening, even inspiring.” Ben Kingsberg, The New York Times, 24/07/2018
Paula Eiselt is a New Jersey-based independent filmmaker and graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a double major in film production and cinema studies. 93Queen (2018) is her feature directorial debut. Eiselt’s work has been supported by several renowned institutions, such as the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund, and the New York State Council on the Arts, just to name a few. She was a creative producing fellow at the 2017 Sundance Creative Producing Program and a 2016 Independent Filmmaker Project Documentary Lab fellow. In addition to her feature documentaries, Eiselt is currently developing a New York Times Op-Doc on Jewish identity in collaboration with the team behind the A Conversation on Race series. Previously, Eiselt served as Director of Programming at The Edit Center where she launched and designed their Documentary Filmmaking program.
- 2018 – 93Queen (documentary)
- 2008 – Priscilla (short)