Underground Film Journal

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Award-Winning Short Film: Meeskeit

By Mike Everleth ⋅ December 3, 2010

Outsider filmmaker Neil Ira Needleman is on an art roll lately. At the same time he was attending a major retrospective screening at the Mantis Gallery in Harrisburg, PA on Nov. 20, another one of his short films, Meeskeit, was awarded Audience Favorite at Shadowbox Cinema II, a special event hosted by the Ann Arbor Film Festival at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. You can watch the entire film — a sad tale about two Jewish spinsters — embedded above.

For those who don’t speak Yiddish, a “meeskeit” is a person who is “uglier than ugly.” In this case, that’s the narrator of this film and her cousin, neither of whom we ever see. The entire tale is told via paintings and the stories that accompany them.

It’s a tragic tale of familiar familial angst ramped up to about 200. As the inequities continue to pile on each other, one starts to wonder if any one person or family can handle the trauma or if we’re simply being put on by Mr. Needleman. Much of his work has that bewildering quality to it, but this is one of the few films that directly addresses that unsettling feeling that Needleman has mastered in generating.

Painting of a man and a woman kissing

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