Religion is often seen and portrayed as the antithesis of LGBTQ identity. While Christianity is often at the forefront of these debates, the new short film Black Hat follows a deeply closeted Hasidic Jew. The film beautifully captures Shmuel's struggle between his devout faith and queer identity. For him, as for many with the same struggle, he can't choose between religion or queerness because they’re equally engrained into his identity. So, Shmuel (Adam Silver) leads a double life — praying at the synagogue and managing a dry cleaning business by day, and then traversing gay bars by night — at least while his wife and children are out of town. However, Shmuel's two lives unconsciously bleed together when he leaves his hat at a gay bar.
The filmmakers note that rarely is the connection between LGBTQ+ identities and ultra-Orthodox communities discussed or depicted on screen. While the 2018 film Disobedience gave many a first look into the intersectionality of queer and Jewish identities, Black Hat hopes to continue the conversation. Writer, co-producer, and gay Jewish man Phillip Guttmann explained some of the challenges ultra-Orthodox Jews face.
“Out of the view of the public, there are a pocket of ultra-Orthodox Jews dealing with real issues, like substance addiction, untreated mental health, living in the closet — issues that everyone around the world faces — but in these religious insular communities, talking about such issues publicly is forbidden.”
Guttman hopes Black Hat can help start those conversations around the intersectionality of Judaism and queer identities, raising awareness of the often-forgotten community.
Black Hat premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival next week. Check out the trailer below and learn more at BlackHatMovie.net.