"I never sold weed after high school -- I swear," said 31-year-old filmmaker Jonathan Levine.
Instead, he said, "The Wackness," which revolves around a dealer who trades pot for therapy sessions (and premieres in competition at the Sundance Film Festival this week), was inspired by his teen angst back in 1994, as he bemoaned his social status, bickered with his Jewish parents and obsessed about what he calls life's "wackness, the awful stuff, rather than living in the moment."
Because in today's modern world, a guy and a girl looking for love can make plans, rush home from work, wash extra carefully in certain areas, put on nice clothes, spend three hours in flirtatious conversation at the local sushi joint, say a warm good night and still come home wondering whether what they just experienced was a date or two people who wanted to be on a date but were instead simply "hanging out."
Stepping up to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina, Jewish day schools opened their doors to evacuees, families welcomed strangers into their homes, Jewish rescue squads searched through the storm's wreckage and Jewish organizations raised millions of dollars for those whose lives were turned topsy-turvy by the deadly storm.
Houston has quickly become a major haven for victims who have been left, for the moment at least, without homes. The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston quickly jumped into action to aid the beleaguered evacuees, Jew and non-Jew alike.
The freeways were quiet and the city seemed peaceful at 4:30 a.m. as I drove to the hospital.
I am in Israel for a few days to visit the victims of terrorist acts. I'm on my own, not with a group. It's the first time I've been in Israel with a purpose other than visiting family and enjoying myself. I'm not frightened but there is something unsettling to visit Israel this way. It was the idea of my sister, Dalya. She had returned from Israel a few weeks earlier. She just heard on the radio about a suicide bombing on a bus in Jerusalem.
Passover is a holiday of remembrance, a time to recall and retell the story of the deliverance of the Jewish people from generations of Egyptian bondage. But there is also a different kind of remembering that takes place each Passover, in which memory is personal, not scripted. We spontaneously recall, often vividly, the many different seders we have attended over the years, both as a child and as an adult.Â
It was this relationship -- these two boys, total strangers now bound forever by one horrible deed -- that was the initial inspiration for "Levity."
In researching the movie, I spent time with a lot of people who had committed murder when they were kids. I met some through youth groups, others through church and community programs. Some I interviewed extensively, others I just followed around for a while. They were all different ages, yet each had in common that he was trying to come to terms with the consequences of what he'd done. Some (those who believed in God) were trying on a spiritual level, others (those who didn't) on a secular level. For all of them it was a kind of obsession.