Jewish community centre JW3 has cancelled its screening of a film by a female Charedi film-maker who had insisted on a women-only audience.
Frustrated JW3 bosses took the “regrettable” decision following legal advice, after a complaint to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, which said that excluding male viewers on the basis of gender would be unlawful.
The film, called Gift of Fire by director Rechy Elias, was due to be shown as part of the Israeli film festival SERET, which will now show it in a private viewing instead.
“We had hoped to provide a rare platform for a Charedi female film-maker to express herself artistically, as well as a safe environment for Jewish women from across the entire spectrum of the community to see this film,” said JW3’s Raymond Simonson.
“Gift of Fire has been screened to thousands of women over the world without ever encountering such problems.”
Elias made the film with the explicit intention of it only being shown to female audiences, and says she would never have made the film without that pre-condition.
Despite that, JW3 cancelled the screening after a man complained. “Unfortunately, it seems that showing this film only to female-only audiences would indeed be in breach of UK equality laws, which we would, of course, never intentionally do,” said Simonson.