El Tercer Espacio (“The Third Place”)
A Documentary by Nejemye Tenenbaum on the Syrian Jewish Community from Damascus in Mexico City
Spanish, with English subtitles Followed by discussion with the director
Geny is a 12-year-old girl who dreams of dropping out of school and marrying a millionaire. Samy “Panes” is a young adult searching for work in the midst of a harsh economic reality. Sara, a 90-year-old woman remembers nostalgically her idyllic childhood in a much simpler Mexico. Bella spends her time volunteering for a charity whose beneficiary list grows every day at an alarming rate. These are some of the characters who belong to the Monte Sinaí community, a space where thousands of families of all ages and positions gather. Their private and moving stories give voice to the benefits of community living, as well as to the conflicts they face, including broken families, financial woes and loss of identity. With the help of a sociologist, a Rabbi, the president of the community and an estranged actor, we try to assess the actual state of this particular congregation. Their interventions lead us to question what it means to be part of any community; the advantages obtained, but the price that is paid as well. Does being part of a “Third Place” enhance the life of the individual? Does everyone need to belong? Where lies the balance between surviving as an ethnic group and embracing the outside world? These and other questions sit at the heart of this poignant and honest documentary.