Paula Eiselt’s film 93Queen follows a few Hasidic women who created the first all-female EMT service in New York City. It puts its spotlight mostly on one of its co-founders Rachel ‘Ruchie’ Freier. It does, however, have some time to interview some of its members. These members have their religion and gender in common. But some things set them apart.
Ruchie in is a marriage but some have divorced or remarried. The point is that their differences will keep them together since the group has members with different perspectives and skills. She thought the same thing when she pitched the idea of joining the all-male Hasidic EMT service. They turned her away, this rejection forcing her to co-create her group.
However, her Hasidic community in Brooklyn is resisting her initiatives. The all-male service has forced the Rabbis and scholars to keep endorsing them. They also speak ill of ‘women working outside the home’. Eiselt emphasizes the importance of the Rabbis’ support. She showing a scene where the women drive all over the borough at night to get Rabbinic support.
Eiselt also shows Ruchie and the other members’ struggle to balance and interpret their religion and their jobs. Here she adds another conflict, making the battle of the sexes more complex. Ruchie, to appease her community, enforces a rule that there can’t be single women in the service. It’s a a decision as arbitrary and divisive as their religions’ patriarchy.
The tonal shifts between the two conflicts can be rocky, and I can say the same thing about their resolutions. There’s also a little shake and a little blur in the camera to try to capture the service’s chaotic nature. But this documentary captures the constant heartbreak of trailblazing women and despite all of that, their drive is still strong.
93Queen‘s premiere is on April 29 at 3PM at the Scotiabank Theatre. It’s also screening on May 1 at 8:45 PM at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Last show is on May 6 at 8:45 at the Hart House Theatre.
- Release Date: 4/29/2018