USA, 2018 / 78 min / English, French, Bulgarian, Hebrew and Aramaic OV with English subt. (OV with EN subt.) / animation
A colourful, kaleidoscopoic and feminist version of the Book of Exodus, Judaism’s origin story, full of well-known songs.
You have heard of them before, but you have never seen either Moses, Jesus or the Angel of Death as you will do in Nina Paley’s genre-defying animated musical Seder-Masochism. Loosely following the traditional Jewish Passover Seder story and helped by the director’s own father, the biblical prophets lead us through the book of Exodus, the story of how the Israelites left Egypt and headed for the Holy land. All to the sound of The Beatles, The Four Tops, Guns N’Roses, 10CC and Gloria Gaynor, to mention only a few of the many musical delights this film has to offer. In a twist, the story is told from the perspective of humankind’s original female deity and puts the Great Mother in a tragic struggle against the forces of Patriarchy.
“A delightfully trippy, darkly humorous, and intimate interpretation of the Jewish family ritual Passover Seder. Director Nina Paley’s bold, curvy and colourful animation is driven along by a memorable soundtrack with songs repurposed to tell the story of Exodus. At the core of Seder-Masochism is Paley’s animated interview with her late father Hiram. From there, Paley serves up a biting and merciless critique of the violent and sexist tendencies of religion. In a time when society’s patriarchal tendencies are under intense scrutiny, Seder-Masochism provides a refreshing perspective.” Ottawa International Animation Festival 2018
The film is shown in a double-feature on independent animation cinema with This Magnificent Cake! by Emma De Swaef and Marc James Roels. Tickets are valid for both screenings.
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“A musical comedy, tripped-out cartoon and insolent reading of the book of Exodus all in one, Seder-Masochism defies definition. At the same time, Paley rather adeptly, and often humorously, turns the Passover story on its head, questioning how something created by a ‘white male patriarchy’ has resonated across generations in ways that are often violent, misogynistic and rather senseless. To prove her point, she cuts from giddy animation scenes to footage of bombings in the Middle East (possibly committed by the Israeli Defense Forces), shots of ISIS destroying religious icons in Iraq or Syria and a video of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Pass the matzo.” Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter, 14/06/2018
“This antic nonbeliever’s take on the Book of Exodus is so full of invention that, moment-to-moment, its somewhat disjointed and episodic nature is easy to forgive. […] At once parodic and serious in addressing history, culture, religion, and morality, Paley’s aesthetic choices are just as delightfully wide-ranging as her intellectual ones.” Dennis Harvey, Variety, 19/10/2018
- Audience Award – Feature Film, Animator International Animated Film Festival, 2018 (Poland)
Nina Paley, born in 1968 in Urbana, Illinois, is an American director and animator. She has created and illustrated several cartoons and short animations. In 2008, she released her first feature film, the critically acclaimed animated musical film Sita Sings the Blues (2008). Her work leads to her joining QuestionCopyright.org movement as Artist-in-Residence in 2008, where she produced a series of animated shorts about intellectual freedom called Minute Memes. She has since been actively engaged in the free art movement and publishes most of her work under an open source license in the public domain. Seder-Masochism (2018), in development since 2011, is her second feature.
- 2018 – Seder-Masochism
- 2014 – On Children (segment in the collection “The Prophet”)
- 2012 – This Land Is Mine (short)
- 2009-2011 – Minute Memes (shorts collection)
- 2008 – Sita Sings the Blues
- 2005 – Dandaka Dharma (short)
- 2002 – Fetch! (short)
- 2002 – FertCo (short)
- 2002 – Thank You for Not Breeding (documentary short)