December 10, 2020 - 7:55am
Posted by Jim Healy


While the Cinematheque's theatrical venues remain closed, our view-at-home series continues this week with two powerful new documentaries that were originally scheduled to screen as part of the 2020 Wisconsin Film Festival.

THE RABBI GOES WEST (USA, 2019, 78 min.) Rabbi Chaim Bruk, a self-proclaimed “salesman of God,” proves unwavering in his efforts to make Jews more religious in this disarming, provocative documentary by Gerald Peary (Archie’s Betty, WFF 2016) and Amy Geller. Brooklyn-born Bruk moves to unlikely Bozeman, Montana, placed there by Chabad, a branch of Hasidic Judaism that puts a high value on outreach. Members of the local Reform and Conservative Jewish communities are not entirely receptive to the methods of this charismatic interloper, who has made a pledge to place a mezuzah on the doorpost of every Jew in Montana. That’s less than 2,000 Jews in a state 14 times larger than Israel.  Sparks fly when Rabbi Chaim and Bozeman’s Reform rabbi clash on issues such as support of Israel, women’s rights, and interpretations of the Torah. But there is a real threat to all the Jews of Montana when Neo-Nazis cyberattack the local rabbis.

DETERMINED (USA, 2020, 74 min.) After losing their mothers to Alzheimer’s disease, three Wisconsin women — determined to find a cure — volunteer their bodies and minds to a pathbreaking UW Madison study. Hailing from Milwaukee, Madison, and Washburn County, respectively, Karen, Sigrid, and Barb face strenuous cognitive exams, exercise tests, and neural scans as part of the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention (WRAP). This clear-eyed documentary secures access not only to the high-stakes inner workings of medical research, but also to the intimate personal lives and families of the participants. Determined examines, in heartbreaking detail, the toll of Alzheimer’s, particularly on the inner lives of caregivers. It also introduces us to three brave women and a team of doctors who, together, give us hope for a brighter future.

Through December 24 only, the Cinematheque has a limited number of opportunities to view both Determined and The Rabbi Goes West at home for free. To receive instructions on how to view both movies, send an email to and remember to include the code WFF in the subject line. No further message is necessary.

Two new episodes of our Cinematalk podcast, this week! First, the Cinematheque's Ben Reiser talks with The Rabbi Goes West filmmakers Amy Geller and Gerald Peary. On a separate episode, Ben talks with the team behind Determined. Listen to both episodes of Cinematalk below or subscribe through Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.