Monthly Archives: February 2014

If Virginia Woolf wrote on WordPress, she’d totally use this

I’ve just discovered the ‘Distraction Free Writing mode’. It allows you to write your entire blog post on a blank white slate, cutting out all the side bars,  putting you in a pure frame of mind where you can just concentrate on honing your prose until it expresses the important thing you said with perfect clarity. The way the great writers of the past wrote, on parchment or a typewriter.

Of course, you can still instantaneously open another window. What’s distracting me when I’m trying to blog isn’t the other stuff on WordPress (no offence, WordPress), it’s the other stuff on the Internet. And there’s quite a lot of it.

If I’m never going to be a great writer because I need to constantly check whether The Editing Room has a new script up when I should be writing – would I rather not be a great writer? It’s depressing, but sometimes it looks like it.

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Filed under Personal, The Internet, Writing

Review: Fill the Void (Rama Burshtein 2012)

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In my last post (which, as usual, was too long ago!), I wrote about how the best fiction and discussions about marginalised groups are created by people in that group. Then I saw Fill the Void, which I think is a really good example of the kind of art from viewpoints we don’t often hear from, that should get out there more. Unlike 12 Years a Slave, it isn’t even distanced from its characters’ lives by history. Rama Burshtein’s debut feature Fill the Void is set in a contemporary world I knew nothing about – the Orthodox Hassidic community, where there’s a huge social focus on arranged marriages.

The film begins with its eighteen-year-old heroine Shira and her aunt spying on a potential match in the supermarket, and the theme of marriage – meeting prospective husbands, attending weddings, arrangements falling through – dominates almost every conversation, as the characters follow it with an intense interested designed to, perhaps, fill the existential void referred to in the title. This film fails the Bechdel Test, but on purpose – the female characters talk to each other about men and matrimony because it’s such an important part of the story and their lives. As an outsider, I can’t judge how accurately this film represents the community, but it feels authentic and I found it an eye-opening insight.

Shira seeks advice on her first meeting with her prospective husband from her pregnant sister, Esther. But Esther soon collapses at a family gathering, and is taken to hospital where she dies in childbirth. Her family and her husband Yochay mourn her loss and care for her newborn son, but soon the question arises of whether Yochay should remarry. Desperate to stay in contact with her grandchild, Shira’s mother suggests that she should become her brother-in-law’s second wife.

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Filed under Feminism, Film, Social Justice