Religion.com

Religion.com is a 50 minute excursion into the mysterious life of the strictly Orthodox in Israel and, specifically, their relationship with the Internet.

It feels, however, more like 50 hours, as the documentary directors Ron Ofer and Yohai Hakak strain repetitively to persuade the viewers to warm to their two main protagonists.

Yigal Revach heads an advertising agency in Bnei Brak and to say he is a difficult person to like is an understatement. Apparently a Torah "ilui" or genius in his youth, these days Revach is king of the hustlers as he seeks a rabbinical stamp of approval for the introduction of an internet service for the Haredi community. When he's not harrying people at brainstorming sessions in his agency, Revach is filmed on increasingly bewildering expeditions to the Ukraine, where, we are told, he finds spiritual renewal at the graves of various rabbis.

In one bizarre scene Revach is shown weeping bitterly as he is draped over a tombstone, only to perk up immediately when he receives a phone call from the Shas politician Eli Yishai, engaging Revach's dark arts for his election campaign.

Apparently in opposition to Revach is the equally peculiar Micha Rothschild, bent on denouncing the Internet and the evils it represents, to the Haredi community. Rothschild comes from a family of 17 children, himself has nine, and spends most of his time sticking inflammatory hate posters in Haredi neighbourhoods.

Quite what he lives on is unclear, even more so when Rothschild, deciding on a policy of damage limitation, goes to a computer company and endeavours to buy a computer that has no Internet and no email facilities. What he is going to do with this machine is never discussed.

My assumption is that the film-makers are secular people who are trying to open a window on a mainly closed world. Unfortunately they have only succeeded in opening a quarterlight.

Religion.com is just one of the films on offer at this year's UK Jewish Film Festival. Find out more here

    Last updated: 2:58pm, February 18 2011