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Opening The Red Tent On Screen

Opening The Red Tent On Screen

Sandee is the arts and culture editor at the Jewish Week.

This Shabbat, we read the story of Dinah, the only daughter of the biblical Jacob, whose tragic tale is tucked into the narrative of parshat Vaylishlach. And on Sunday evening, Lifetime Television will air the first of a two-part mini-series based on Anita Diamant’s wildly successful 1997 novel inspired by Dinah’s story, "The Red Tent." The confluence of these dates, according to Diamant, is “totally coincidental.”

In a conversation just before the show’s airdate, Diamant explains that she had nothing to do with the movie version of "The Red Tent." She’s reluctant to express her opinions about Lifetime’s production but admits that watching it is “a little out of body.” She’s pleased that the movie will introduce the book – which has sold more than three million copies internationally, in 28 languages — to new audiences.

“The thing I like is that they kept the women’s story at the center,” she says. “For the filmmaker and people who produced it, it was a passionate project to give women voice.” The women also have romance, sex and sisterhood.

“The Red Tent” features strong acting, starring Rebecca Ferguson as Dina, Academy Award nominee Minnie Driver as Leah, Dinah’s mother; Morena Baccarin (“Homeland”) as Rachel, and Oscar nominee Debra Winger as Rebecca. Iain Glen, who plays Jacob, and Will Tudor, as Joseph, both appear in “House of Thrones.”

The film was shot in Morocco, with sweeping desert landscapes and camel caravans tracking the sands. The eponymous red tent – an invention of Diamant’s — is a place of retreat for women, set up at the center of the family compound.

Diamant, the author of 12 books including “The Boston Girl,” a novel to be published later this month, finds the story as relevant now as when she wrote it. “Women’s stores are still untold and undertold. We need to reclaim those.”

“The Red Tent” airs on Lifetime on Sunday, February 7th and Monday February 8th at 9 pm on Lifetime.

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