Partly Private – to cut or not to cut?

May 27, 2010

Partly Private (2009) is a humorous and in-depth documentary by Danae Elon trying to find the answer whether male infants should be circumcised or not?


Danae Elon is an award winning producer and director. After graduating from NYU she produced and directed ‘Never Again Forever’ a controversial documentary on the Jewish Defense League. Her first feature documentary ‘Another Road Home’ was praised as one of the best films ever made about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

‘Partly Private’ is her second feature documentary film. She has won numerous awards for her work. These include prizes from the Jerusalem Film Festival, Warsaw International Film Festival, Tursak Film Festival, a Golden Spire Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival and others.  (bio taken from ZagrebDox)


‘It all began when Philip, my partner told me about a story his father had told him:“In Algeria”, he said, “there is a tradition of putting the foreskin in the couscous dish after the ceremony”.’


New York based documentary film-maker and expectant mother of Israeli origins, Danae Elon explores through different cultures the meaning of foreskin removal. It’s based on her private trigger. Her partner, photographer Philip Touitou, a French-Algerian Jew, of course favours circumcision more out of traditional reasons than as a faithful of Judaism.


After many dilemmas she has decided to accept the circumcision of her first-born to take place in their apartment as a small intimate home rite. The film became dramatically more interested when she became pregnant for the second time. She has decided to visit Israel, the Palestinian territories, the U.K, Italy and Turkey in order to find the reasons why all these cultures are using circumcision as part of their lives, what does it mean to them and so.


By filming all sides, pros and cons, she has got rather interesting and sometimes comic revealing testimonies on our tough and absurd social beliefs and customs. Partly Private was shot and edited in fluid rhythm following her story naturally.

It was really interesting to follow the reaction of the audience during the screening. They cheered out loud and supported Danae while she argued against circumcision; and were kind of disappointed when she has decided to circumcise her second soon, too. Of course, the audience from other cultural background.

Despite the facts that she was convinced that in this dilemma ‘to cut or not to cut’ the obvious would be not to circumcise the boy, she decided to do it. Partly Private illuminates the aspects of out culture and the body treatment with humour, and seems like this is going to be one of those films that will be in a row of future argumentation against circumcisions, whether male or female.

Makes me wonder… as human beings we are definitely ready to leave our ancient traditional beliefs, but are we ready to reject them from a cultural point of view? Seems like there is constant and strong connection between these terms ‘cultural’ and ‘tradition.’ Unfortunately.

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