Faculty member’s short film set for debut screenings in New York City

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A short film by a Penn State faculty member will make its debut with two screenings on consecutive days in New York City this weekend.

“Summer,” written and directed by Pearl Gluck, an assistant professor in the Department of Film-Video and Media Studies, will screen at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 20 in the SVA Theatre as part of the Big Apple Film Festival’s Women’s Filmmaker Showcase and again at 8:30 p.m. Jan. 21 in the Walter Reade Theater in Lincoln Center during the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s New York Jewish Film Festival’s shorts screening.

The film is about two Hasidic teenage girls who get their hands on a forbidden book during a summer sleep-away camp. Then, despite their every effort to maintain their purity, they explore the book, “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” which leads to an awakening neither of them are prepared to encounter.

“When I was in high school, I was the one who found the science books before the principal ripped out the chapter on reproduction and evolution. What I saw astounded me and I snuck into the library to uncover more of the censored world,” said Gluck, a New York City native who was raised in a Hasidic community. “I studied ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves’ like it was one of the five books of Torah without anyone discovering my secret self-awareness and sexual awakening. 

“This is precisely why I am intrigued to see what may happen if I put the same book into the hands of two teenagers. What will they discover about themselves, their community, their faith, and their affinities?”

Gluck teaches screenwriting and directing at Penn State. The crew for the film include more than a dozen students working alongside award-winning professionals.

The film features actors Juliet Brett (“A Violent Year”), Emmy James (“You’re Not Alone”) and Thea McCartan (“Orange Is the New Black”). Lauretta Prevost served as the film’s director of photography. It was co-produced by Malky Goldman and Melissa Weisz. Grammy Award-winner Lisa Gutkin was the composer and Kristan Sprague the editor.

Gluck’s work has appeared at the Cannes, Sundance and Tribeca film festivals, and on PBS. Her films, both documentary and narrative, explore themes of class, gender and faith.

Her first documentary feature, “Divan” (2004), opened at Film Forum in New York City, was broadcast on the Sundance Channel, and played across the country and internationally at festivals. 

Gluck’s first narrative short, “Where Is Joel Baum” (2012), won best actor at the Starz Denver Film Festival and best film at the Toronto Female Eye Film Festival. Her second narrative short, “Junior” (2017), won three best actress awards. 

Her first narrative feature, “The Turn Out” (2017), deals with sex trafficking at local truck stops.

Last Updated January 16, 2018