Holy Rollers (film)

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Holy Rollers
Holy Rollers (2010 film) poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Kevin Asch
Produced by
Written by Antonio Macia
Music by MJ Mynarski
Cinematography Ben Kutchins
Edited by Suzanne Spangler
Distributed by First Independent Pictures
Release date
  • January 25, 2010 (2010-01-25) (Sundance)
  • May 21, 2010 (2010-05-21) (United States)
Running time
89 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $302,886 (22 August 2010)[1]

Holy Rollers is a 2010 independent film written by Antonio Macia, directed by Kevin Asch, and starring Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Bartha, Ari Graynor, Danny Abeckaser, Q-Tip and Jason Fuchs. Holy Rollers is inspired by actual events in the late nineties when Hasidic Jews were recruited as mules to smuggle ecstasy from Europe into the United States.[1]


Sam Gold (Jesse Eisenberg), is a mild-mannered 20-year-old Orthodox Jewish man who lives with his large family in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn. Sam works in his father's fabric store while studying to be a rabbi. He and his family hope to arrange a marriage for him with Zeldy Lazar. However, Sam's family is much poorer than the Lazars, and he worries he will be unable to provide for them.

Sam and his best friend Leon (Jason Fuchs) accept a mysterious job offer from Leon's brother Yosef (Justin Bartha) and his boss, the Israeli Jackie (Danny Abeckaser). Yosef sends them to Amsterdam, with instructions to wait for him. While there, the pair are given a briefcase, which Yosef says contains medicine, and are instructed to walk it through customs in New York. Back in New York, the pair discover the briefcase contains pure ecstasy. Leon wants nothing more to do with Yosef, but Sam is attracted to the easy money.

Sam becomes a participant in Jackie's operation, making trips to Amsterdam to pick up suitcases. He is paid to recruit other young Orthodox Jews as mules, who implicitly trust him as one of their own. Sam meets the liberal Jewish girl Rachel (Ari Graynor), Jackie's girlfriend, and drinks alcohol and takes ecstasy with the gang. Sam begins to rise in the organization when he brokers a business deal with European drug manufacturer Ephraim (Q-Tip).

Meanwhile, Sam leaves the yeshiva. His new job is well-known around his neighborhood, and his parents kick him out of the house. Sam discovers Yosef has been skimming money from Jackie through side deals. Jackie, however, wants to ship street ecstasy, which contains a higher percentage of other drugs, into America. These drugs, carried by unwitting young Orthodox Jews is picked up by drug-sniffing dogs and the mules are arrested.

Sam escapes to warn Yosef, who is high. Yosef suggests they drive to California. Sam returns to his childhood home, where he is greeted by Leon, who has married Zeldy. Sam weeps on his front steps as the sirens in the distance grow closer.



Director Kevin Asch said he chose the title Holy Roller to reference both the protagonist's religious character and the slang term "rolling", which means to be high on ecstasy.[2] In American religion, “Holy Rollers” is more commonly a phrase applied (often derisively) to certain Christian sects that engage in ecstatic behavior, but is not commonly used of Jews or other non-Christians.[3]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Holy Rollers was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and director Kevin Asch won the Breakthrough Director Award at the 2010 Gotham Awards.[4]

Holy Rollers also won the "cartier award" at the Dauville film festival

End credit song "Darkness Before the Dawn", written by MJ Mynarski & Paul Comaskey, appeared on the Best Original Song shortlist for the 83rd Academy Awards.[5]


  1. ^ a b Holy Rollers on IMDb
  2. ^ "Director Kevin Asch Talks about 'Holy Rollers'". Filmmakers Notebook. June 13, 2010. Retrieved December 19, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Holy Roller". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2010-09-14. (often offensive) A member of one of the Protestant sects whose worship meetings are characterized by spontaneous expressions of emotional excitement. 
  4. ^ Holy Rollers Awards on IMBb
  5. ^ Oscar Taps 41 Movie Tunes For Original Song Category Deadline Hollywood, December 15, 2010

External links[edit]