‘Under the Bar’ filmmaker Craig Schattner
Leading up to the 28th Washington Jewish Film Festival, we asked our filmmakers a few questions about their featured films.
In this edition, Director Craig Schattner discusses Under the Bar.
What inspired you to tell the story of your subject or the story depicted in your film?
What was a particular obstacle you faced while making this film?
Access was an issue. The Woodmere community in the Five Towns of Long Island is very tight knit and I was an outsider. I wanted to film at a local synagogue and was shot down. But Inna, the owner of the gym, introduced me to some truly incredible women. And their trust in her was huge in them trusting me. I think it helps that I’m a crew of one, so I can get access to and comfort with my subjects in a truly personal way.
What do you want audiences to walk away with after screening your film?
Why do you think Washington, DC is a valuable location to screen your film?
What films or filmmakers have been the most influential to you?
Steve James, the filmmaker behind Hoop Dreams (1994), really shaped my idea of documentary filmmaking. As a basketball player, it tapped into my love for the game, but after watching the film multiple times over the years, you realize it’s about so much more than basketball. I try to marry my interests with my curiosity in my own productions. I love fitness and I’m Jewish, but had little exposure to Orthodox Judaism in my life, so pursuing Under the Bar felt natural to me. James connects his hometown of Chicago to most of his productions and you can tell he loves the city. I firmly believe if you’re not connected to the work you’re doing, the product will reflect that.
Why are Jewish-interest films important today?