You almost never got to see The Believer. Which would be a crime, because HENRY BEAN’s provocative film about religious fundamentalism is entirely relevant to 1 1 September.

Words: Miles Fielder

espite. or perhaps because ol‘ the current political climate. the provocative subject matter of The lie/rover is positively explosive. lissentially. it‘s a lilm about religious lundamentalism and terrorism. The Believer in question is Danny Balint. a .\'ew York .lew who trades in his skttll cap

for a skinhead. rejecting religious studies in favour of

anti-Semitic violence. .\lost contentious of all is the suggestion that rigorous religious study is the source of Balint's translormation and. beyond this. that Danny can be at once .\'a/i and Jew.

'l‘hough based on a trtte case l‘rorn the l‘)(i()s. iii/Iv lie/fever is the brainchild of writer- director llenry Bean. ln lidinburgh to promote the [K premiere ol~ his tilm at last August's liilm l‘eslival. Bean looks like he‘d be at home in one of the university’s lecture theatres. with his round spectacles. close-cropped beard and tweed jacket. Bean does. in tact. have a college background. in law. but he is known as one ol~ America‘s premiere screenwriters. He has worked without and within the studio system: among his best known films are line/Irv ()fi'lilu' .S‘nm'. l)(’(‘/) (over and Internal .»l_/]i1ir.v. Bean describes his protagonist. or more accurately antagonist. Balint as 'smart. articulate and tormented’. Replace the last adjective with educated (and add liberal while you're at it) and you‘ve got a pretty good description of Bean himsell‘.

'l was never a neo-Na/i. though.‘ he says. 'l‘ve


had my tllllL‘l‘L‘llL‘L‘s with Judaism. btrt I never

considered myself as anything btrt a .lew. 'l’hat weird mixture of hatred and love came l'rom me. The anti- Semitic speeches come from me imagining how anti- Semites sec .ludaism. 'l'hey'ic really the prophetic

26 THE LIST. . '-

New York Jew Danny Balint trades in his skull cap for a skinhead

‘I was never a "\

though I’ve had my differences with Judaism’

rantings of someone who is obsessed with Judaisrn.’ At the Sundance liilm l‘estival world premiere Bean had doubts about audience reactions to the potentially inflammatory nature of the tilm. llappily. they were allayed by an overwhelmingly positive reaction. 'l‘hus. later in I.os .-\ngeles. Bean was confident screening The Believer to the Simon \Viesenthal (‘entre l-‘or .lewish (‘ulture. lle assumed a similarly positive reaction would help secure a distributor for the lilm. What Bean didn‘t know is that the Wiesenthal (‘entre is politically conservative (its head rabbi attended a Republican convention the previous summer). The centre’s reaction was that the

film is ‘a primer for anti-Semitistn‘. Distributor

interest in The Believer dried tip.

And that might have been the end ol‘ the story ol

this extraordinarily thought—provoking lilm. except those all—important l'estival screenings paid oil. In the

['8. cable network Showtime broadcast 'l'lrc lie/term

(ironically bringing it to a wider audience than would a theatrical distributor). while in the l'K. l’athe are releasing the film on the back of its triumphant lidinburgh premiere.

Yet. although The Believer has secured (9". theatrical distribution and been greeted with

'1 widespread critical acclaim. Bean remains unsure how his lilrn will play to audiences. ‘()ne ol the things I‘m fascinated to know.’ he says. ‘is will they lind it boring. will they become absorbed in it‘.’ I have no idea.‘ And since I I September Bean has questioned whether he should have made the lilm at all.

11' lidinburgh is any indication. ’l‘lrr' liv/ivrer’s l‘uture looks good. During the question and answer session following its screening. a member of the audience admitted to Bean that he usually watched only mainstream Hollywood movies. .-\l’ter' Pearl Harbor. however. The Believer came as a welcome revelation. "l'lrose are the people.. says Bean. encottraged by the response. ’ll' you live in America. work in the lilm business. your dream is: il‘ you gave the people who go to see the l’mr/ Hurlmrs another kind ol film they might like it too. They just never get lo see ilf



Selected release from Fri 7 Dec. See review.

Rough cuts

Lights, camera, action . . .

lHl, til-GUS IONDON FILM ‘es;t".'a| o" torn arrives at the (Brasgiov'x lizlrn Theatre. f3(Z-"(E(Z'.",!;'t§,‘ highlights; 30 Nover'ioe" S) December. The event «on; off wrth a rnorrirrig ‘.'./r’)"l<f3.".()i) ‘rorn P2xar Ahrrnatror‘ 0°..r'flrtlf‘). creators; of Toy Story

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Mulholland Drive

THE GERMAN FILM FESTIVAL is also on tour, arriving at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse from 3 December and Glasgow Film Theatre from 7 December. The touring programme comprises features, documentaries, shorts and a retrospective focusing on Germany’s era of political violence. The award winning Berlin Is In Germany falls into the last category. The State IAm In also comes highly recommended, making a return visit to Edinburgh where it premiered at last August’s International Film FesflvaL

it it HA1 1 ()\‘r.’l l N 80(th W takes over (if; :;gi<>\.'.”s; (XZA on Sunday E) December vvrth rtt; sorrel: paused rrtttitz ,rteo'ra (?\.(}ltl. l octrturtri oh the theme ‘Arrterroari leerts'. tl‘o Socrer showcases; short trlrrrt; front the U53 (llt(l UK t'l(:l.l(llllyi work by Spike- .Jori.'r: girtrt Mrke l\/l:£l::. tStepher‘ Pastel _r>rovr<io:; a [XJ set artrt‘ Natasha Spencer a :;orrrtrl ritutrirlatzo" based or‘.

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