A visitor to Jerusalem is immediately struck by the incredible variety of people--of different ethnicities, nationalities and religions--who throng the narrow passageways of the old city. It soon becomes clear that specific groups within this crowd, almost all of whom sport headgear of varying shapes, sizes, textures and colors, can be distinguished by their hats.
As HATS OF JERUSALEM reveals, there are reasons beyond mere protection from the weather for the varieties of distinctive headwear on display. Indeed, there is a history, a story, behind each type of hat, which filmmaker Nati Adler explores in this whimsical yet informative documentary.
Our guided tour, which features a visit to the oldest hat-making shop in Jerusalem, enables the hat wearers to tell the stories of their hats, including that of the flamboyant fur shtreimel, which ironically traces its roots to European anti-Semitism, worn by ultra-orthodox Jews; the mysteries of the tarbouz, a remnant of the Ottoman Empire, worn by Moslem Kawasses; the peaked caps, symbolizing Mount Ararat, worn by Armenian monks; the stiff, cylindrical hats worn by Russian Orthodox clergy; the Islamic and Halacha strictures about covering women's hair; and the different styles of the keffiya headscarves worn by Palestinians, including the checkered model popularized by Arafat.
Blending interviews, archival footage, period graphics and an evocative musical score, the film shows us that, beyond their practical purposes, hats serve as an identity card, a way of declaring membership in a community, and a religious or political statement often reflecting centuries of tradition. HATS OF JERUSALEM is thus ultimately a film about external appearances and internal identities, about the material world and the spiritual one, about the physical and the metaphysical.
"In a beguiling and impish way, Adler deftly captures the powerful emotional and symbolic significance of hats as identity markers."—Leonardo Digital Reviews
2006 Middle East Studies Association FilmFest
Best Cinematography and Editing Awards, 2006 Israel Documentary Film Awards
Silver Wolf Competition, 2005 Amsterdam International Documentary Festival
2005 Jerusalem Film Festival
"Highly Recommended! Conveys an even deeper sense of belonging to this extraordinarily diverse city."—Educational Media Reviews Online
"Educational as well as entertaining... Highly Recommended! A great resource!—Association for Jewish Libraries Newsletter
"An engaging look at a mysterious and fascinating side of this city."—Jerusalem Post