Synopsis by Mark Deming
Filmmaker Tiffany Shlain explores American Jewish culture while also offering a history of the world's most popular doll in this witty documentary. Introduced in 1959, the Barbie doll was the brainchild of a Jewish businesswoman, Ruth Handler, and it's immediate success quickly changed the shape of the toy business, while also raising provocative questions about the image it presented of women. However, in Shlain's opinion Barbie says just as much about how Jews see themselves and their place in American culture, and in less than twenty minutes she presents a humorous but cogent argument that Barbie is the definitive example of the American Jew determined to assimilate into Gentile society. Narrated by Peter Coyote, The Tribe won the Audience Award at the 2006 Ann Arbor Film Festival.