Afact-based action drama about the perils of in-flight davening has completed initial filming and is expected to be released in time for a Rosh Hashanah release.
“We had to finish this week,” said director Shelly Rosh. “We had a binding contract.”
Completing the project was difficult as the crew encountered budget problems. “We were really strapped for cash,” said Rosh.
Loosely based on the incident in January in which a US Airways plane was diverted to Philadelphia after a passenger donned tefillin in mid-air, prompting fears that he was a terrorist, Rosh said he took some liberties with the plot to make it more thrilling.
“Initially we thought being forced to go Philadelphia was pretty scary in itself,” said Rosh.
“But we wanted a story that would leave the audience praying for more.”
In the film, which stars Phil Actory and Megan Box, passengers aboard an El Al flight find it has been hijacked by Chabad emissaries who will not allow it to land until all male passengers put on tefillin.
(The PG rated film includes verbal jousting, some moaning during prayers and full frontal crudity.)
Actory plays Dovid Flint, a Reform Jew who leads a revolt against the ritual, and Alan Dershowitz plays himself as the civil rights lawyer who argues that religious coercion is a crime, but not as bad as torture, like being forced to watch a Sandra Bullock movie while in flight.
Ms. Box plays a spunky flight attendant who insists on putting tefillen herself, noting that according to legend, King Solomon’s daughter wore tefillen.
“Times have changed,” a Chabadnik tells her.
In the film’s climax, the plane makes an emergency landing at a store-wide sale at Saks Fifth Avenue and the passengers speed down the emergency chutes into the ladies apparel and giftware sections. (Some violence; not recommended for the squeamish.)
Rosh said that production of the film would be complete later this week. “We’re winding down now,” he said.
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