AMERICAN BIRTHRIGHT – A Review by John Strange
When I prepare to review a film, whether at home or in a theater, I do my research to learn the facts I need to fill in the facts listed at the end of this review to give you, the reader, a bit more to go on. When I review films playing at film festivals like this one, that information is sometimes sparse and difficult to locate outside of the information provided by the festival.
American Birthright is one of these films. The notes and the trailer provided gave me clues that intrigued me. And I am glad I was granted permission to watch and review this wonderful story of discovery and learning.
Director Becky Tahel Bordo is an Israeli-born woman whose family came to the U.S. from Haifa, Israel when she was young. Starting in New York City, this young woman eventually migrated to Los Angeles to pursue her career.
When her younger sister announced her engagement to a nice man, who was not Jewish, Tahel had questions arise in her heart and her head that led to her deciding to make this documentary film pursuing the questions of faith and life for a young Jewish person.
For a woman who was making her first documentary film, this effort is amazing. Well-thought-out, it flows well as she begins by discussing her questions with her rabbi and her family, then flying to Grenada to talk to her sister face-to-face.
The answers she learned only made her desire to find the answers that were right for her that much stronger. She and her producing partner, Erin Davis, traveled to Israel in pursuit of her quest. Was she successful in her quest and did she answer the questions she had? That is why we watch films like this one. The filmmakers made our view of Tahel’s search for enlightenment both comfortable and enjoyable.
I had a wonderful time watching this film, self-examining my own life as it related to hers. And thinking of others in my life who live on both sides of this idea/question of interfaith marriages and, at its core, faith as you as a person see and experience it.
The other wonderful piece of this film is the soundtrack. From the film’s credits, I know most of it to be original music. This is not as surprising these days as the rates to license music can cripple a film’s budget. Tahel’s selections fit well with the film, the highlight being the song during the end credits, “Caught in a Flame” by Nuriel. I Googled it and listened to this song again after the film ended. It is truly beautiful.
You can see this film for yourself during the virtual screenings of the Miami Jewish Film Festival running from April 15-29, 2021 (see the link below).
Director: Becky Tahel Bordo
Cast: Becky Tahel Bordo, Eric Andre, Reza Aslan
MPAA Rating: NR
Selig Rating: 5 Stars
Runtime: 66 Min.
Trailer: AMERICAN BIRTHRIGHT Trailer
Virtual Screening: Miami Jewish Film Festival, 4/15 – 4/29/2021, https://miamijewishfilmfestival.org/
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.