DOC NYC 2023 review: Henya Brodeker’s ‘THE THREE OF US’ perfectly captures the complexities of advocating for a special needs child


In a society governed by tradition, a young Orthodox couple defies norms to integrate their autistic son. As they risk everything, their journey explores the delicate balance between love, faith, and self-discovery. Through their struggle, they challenge preconceived notions, embracing parenthood and searching for their place in the world.

Filmmaker Henya Brodbeker turns the camera on her, her husband, and their young autistic son, Ari. Through years of filming, we witness the evolution of relationships in her Orthodox community, her marriage, and with herself. This is one family’s story about belonging. 

THE THREE OF US is one of the most authentic depictions of what it feels like to parent an autistic child. Your unconditional love exists simultaneously with anger, despair, hope, and fear. Henya pulls no punches. Her unfiltered conversations with her husband hit hard. Their raw emotions and vulnerability allow us to sit in their shoes from the beginning. The insulting treatment Henya and Arale receive from their ultra-Orthodox community is infuriating. Arale and Henya invite us to their exhaustive fight for Ari’s integration into a neurotypical classroom setting. The often dismissive responses from community school administrations are outrageous. 

Anyone who follows my career as a film journalist knows I’m a Mom of a young autistic son. I talk about his diagnosis and navigating the complexities of existing in a primarily neurotypical environment. We are lucky in the grand scheme of ASD possibilities. Our son’s cognitive abilities are off the charts. He is loving, funny, friendly, and would not hurt a fly. Dealing with public meltdowns, particularly if those around you do not know or understand, can be a crushing, demoralizing, tear-filled experience. Nothing is easy. It’s undeniably isolating. It’s the outside world we fear most. THE THREE OF US is irrefutable proof of how equal opportunity changes the lives of families. 

The reality exposed in the film may take some viewers off guard. Arale and Henya’s bravery deserves applause and respect. To turn a camera on your lived-in chaos? Wow. I only write about it. THE THREE OF US triumphs in its unfettered honesty and in challenging any preconceived notions of raising a child on the spectrum. Disability representation in film is vital. As an advocate for my child, I thank Henya for making this film. I hope it changes some hearts and minds.

International Premiere of
‘The Three of Us’ at DOC NYC

Thursday, November 9 at 6:45 pm
Village East by Angelika
Director Henya Brodbeker in-person for premiere!
Plus online dates: November 10-26


About the Filmmakers

Henya Brodbeker, Director & Cinematographer
Israeli writer-director and pioneering filmmaker from the ultra-Orthodox community. Her first short film OUR SON (2022) screened at the Cinequest film festival, won the best film award at the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival, and participate in other festivals around the world. Her documentary THE THREE OF US (2023) won the Diamond Award for Best Documentary, Best Director & Best Editing at the Jerusalem Film Festival. The film will be broadcasted by IPBC in 2023. She is currently working on BODILY ENCOUNTERS, a feature film in development with the support of the Israel Film Fund.

Avigail Sperber Producer
Avigail Sperber is a documentary director, producer, and cinematographer originally from Jerusalem. After graduating from Ma’aleh Film School, Avigail has gone on to create award-winning films that have screened at prestigious festivals around the world. Her 2010 film THE HANGMAN received Special Mention at IDFA and went on to screen at Full Frame, Visions du Reel, and more. PROBATION TIME (2014) won the Best Israeli Film Award at Docaviv and screened afterwards at True/False and Krakow Film Festival, among others. In recent years, through her production company Pardes Productions, she has produced and shot several documentary films and series, including THE THREE OF US (Jerusalem FF 2023), Wedding Night (Docaviv 2023), IT’S A WRAP (Haifa FF 2022), COVERED UP (Docaviv 2018), and more.


Review: Hope for peace exists in the documentary ‘Disturbing the Peace’
Country of Origin: United States, Israel, Palestine,
Languages: English, Arabic and Hebrew w/ English subtitles

***2016 Hampton International Film Festival Winner – Conflict & Resolution***
***2016 Traverse City Film Festival Winner – Best Foreign Language Documentary***
***2016 Traverse City Film Festival Winner – Audience Award Foreign Language Documentary***
***2016 Ebert Fest Winner – Roger Ebert Humanitarian Award***
***Official Selection 2016 Jerusalem Film Festival***
***Official Selection 2016 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival***
***Official Selection 2016 Boston Jewish Film Festival***

sulaimanandcfpatpeacemarchWith the election still fresh in our minds, it’s hard to get perspective. Disturbing the Peace is hopeful, inspiring yet tragic and reminds me that there are many conflicts happening the world and even in the darkest of circumstances, there is hope.

Disturbing the Peace is not a history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nor does it try to explain it. Instead, the directors, Stephen Apkon and Andrew L. Young focus on the people living on each side and their search for peace.

Through interviews with people on both sides, a pattern emerges and you stop seeing separation and begin to see people just trying to live and raise families. Archival footage is terrifying and brutal. The visualizations and re-enactments are extremely effective and help to underscore the stories of the subjects.

One especially moving scene is a discussion with a man and his wife over whether he should attend a peaceful demonstration. She does not see the point, and he feels he must do something, not matter how seemingly insignificant. Their two daughters watch and it really captures the heart of the issue.

Another particularly eye-opening scene was when a man, describes watching Schindler’s List in prison with other Palestinians. For the first time, they saw another perspective and how Jews had been treated. Suddenly the other side, even the jailers were people. Slowly he and others became enlightened and when released from prison, became part of the moment, Combatants for Peace.

Although the conflict is far from over, there are people on both sides who have hope that there will be peace. This film fully illustrates that and gives hope to everyone who sees it. Be the change you wish to see in the world.

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi