Ser and I saw Ushpizin in Encino on Friday with her aunt and cousin. It was an excellent poignant film, and important to see - if only to encourage more videos like it to be shown here in the US.
It was interesting, touching, well-acted... just an overall very well-made film. For those who haven't heard of it - it's a film starring Shuli Rand. Rand was an Israeli actor who was chozer b'tshuvah (became religious) through Breslov [a type of Chassidus (Hassidism) - much focus on serving God with joy] and stopped acting. He ran into a director, who essentially questioned how he could not possibly do another movie with Rand. Rand explained some of the restrictions he would face which essentially prohibited making a movie. The director, who was not religious, told him to write all his restrictions, and he would create a movie around them. They also consulted with Rand's rabbi, who in addition to being very positive about the idea, made them promise to include Rand's wife (also a chozer b'tshuvah actress I believe) in the film, and allowed them to film within the Breslov community to make it quite authentic.
The director said his primary focus in the film was to show irreligious Israelis the lives of charedi (Haredi) Jews from within, as he felt that many chilonim (irreligious Jews) have a hatred for the charedim from a pure lack of understanding of them. The movie has been quite a hit in Israel (from my understanding), and we heard an excellent line that an irreligious Israeli had said: "For about an hour and a half, I actually liked the charedim."
The movie itself is about a very poor couple (Rand and his wife) who are both Breslover chozrim b'tshuvah but have not been able [to their frustration] to have a child. They cannot afford what they need for Sukkos, including a Sukkah, an esrog [citron], and most food - and they receive a couple of interesting guests for the holiday as well. It's very much worth seeing, and for anyone in LA, take out two hours to watch it. I'm not sure where else it's being shown, but I'm sure there's ways of finding out online.
Moadim L'Simcha! (Happy holidays!)