Chani Getter was married off by her ultra-Orthodox family when she was 17. By the time she was 24, she had three children. She was deeply religious and deeply unhappy. She knew she was gay and could not stay in her marriage, but she also knew that she wanted to stay within the ultra-Orthodox community and raise an observant family. She is one of seven women (including a male-to-female transsexual) profiled in DevOUT, a new documentary produced and directed by Diana Neille and Sana Gulzar. Each of the women in the film is attempting to follow the strictures of Orthodoxy while embracing a sexual identity that the religious tradition has labeled an abomination.
This film is not covering entirely new turf. In 2001, Sandi Dubowski’s Trembling Before G-d also profiled gay Orthodox men and women. But DevOUT’s subjects are are settling down, raising families, and forcing their communities to come to terms with their existence, with varying degrees of success.
Neille, from South Africa, and Gulzar, from Pakistan, made the film while master’s students at the Columbia University School of Journalism. Neille spoke to Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry from her home in Johannesburg, about the movie, the difficulties their subjects have faced, and how these two non-Jewish, straight women made such a powerful film on such a sensitive topic. [Running time: 18:13.]