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The Independent Critic

Joshua Foer, Thom Mayne, Paul Goldberger, Ron Arad
Jason Hutt
67 Mins.
First Run Features

 "Sukkah City" Released by First Run Features  
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Best-selling author Joshua Foer wanted to do something different when he was building his first Sukkah, a small hut that Jews build and dwell in every fall for the holiday of Sukkot. Motivated by a desire to move beyond the status quo, Foer discovered that while the bible outlines the basic parameters for a sukkah it leaves quite a bit of room for variation and interpretation. This inspired Foer's imagination even further and left him wondering "What if contemporary architects and designers were challenged to design and construct twelve radical sukkahs?"

Director Jason Hutt (Orthodox Stance) follows what is birthed - the groundbreaking Sukkah City competition. Following the competition through jury deliberations, construction, and eventual exhibition, Hutt (NOTE: Yes, I can't help but chuckle at the director's name) provides both entertainment and inspiration in this wonderful weaving together of both the contemporary and historical American Jewish experience.

Indie distributor First Run Features has picked up Sukkah City for a DVD/VOD distribution and serves up some decent extras including additional scenes from the competition and exhibition along with a design gallery submission board slideshow and some bonus shorts.

It may sound like Sukkah City could be a narrow and even boring film. It is essentially about architecture, after all. Yet, Sukkah City is anything but boring. Hutt wonderfully directs the film, capturing the excitement of the competition in an entertaining and inspiring way that will certainly appeal to those of the Jewish faith yet also to those who can appreciate a unique glimpse inside a belief and practice not often experienced within the American mainstream public.

At a mere 67 minutes in length, Sukkah City is nicely paced and moves along quite briskly with intelligent and interesting individuals populating its landscape and keeping us interested from beginning to end. With excellent original music by Mark Orton along with additional music by Max Avery, Lichtenstein, Rashanim, and Surface to Air, Sukkah City is the kind of indie gem for which the fine folks at First Run Features are gifted at finding.

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic  

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