Where is ‘Unorthodox’ filmed?

"Лишь несчастному нужна его правота, счастливый хвататься за неё не будет." Андрей Курпатов ©
Время на прочтение: 4 минут(ы)

As absorbing as it is moving, Unorthodox is a deep dive into a semi-independent society that exists alongside that of the modern West. Set partly in the Satmar sect of Hasidic Jews in New York, the four-part drama focuses on a claustrophobic world that stands alone amid the 21st-century bustle of the Williamsburg district of Brooklyn, before shifting to a vision of Berlin that spotlights the freedom of life in a city fully at ease with both its past and present.

  • Where is Unorthodox filmed?

    Created and written by Anna Winger, showrunner of Deutschland 83 and its sequels, the production was based in Germany, and used Berlin, studios for all its interiors, including those set in Brooklyn. While this meant creating sets that tallied with American architecture, the biggest challenge came in finding extras and costumes; scenes set in the Satmar community were as true to life as possible, focusing on detail and ritual in a manner that producer Alexa Karolinski compared to making a period drama. In this, Eli Rosen, an expert in Hasidic life and the Yiddish language, played an important part: as well as taking the role of the Rabbi in the series, he was in charge of finessing the use of the particular dialect spoken among Satmar members and also of teaching the cast the specifics of everyday life and worship. For the wedding scene, filmed not in a studio but in a Palestinian venue in Berlin, this meant decorating the room with dividing curtains and exhaustive rehearsal of the dances and ceremonies.

  • Where is Unorthodox filmed?

    For exterior shots of Brooklyn, the production travelled to the streets of south Williamsburg, where the Satmar community has remained since its foundation by Hungarian immigrants in the years after World War II. We start in the apartment block where teenage Esty (Shira Haas) lives with new husband Yanky (Amit Rahav), its signage placing it on Park Place, a street running through the neighbourhood. We see Esty running down Walworth Street and then Yanky passing the Peter Luger restaurant on Broadway, a German-owned steakhouse that’s something of a local landmark. Later we see the Lefkowitz kosher supermarket on Lee Avenue, the train tracks by Boerum Street and, in flashback, Esty visiting a pawn shop on Madison Street.

  • Where is Unorthodox filmed?

    Once we move to Berlin with Esty, though, we’re offered a feeling of open air and variation. In her cab from the airport she looks up at the golden angel on the Siegessäule (Victory Column), then wanders in the Gendarmenmarkt (pictured) surrounded by the splendours of the 19th-century Konzerthaus and the pillared 18th-century Deutscher Dom or Neue Kirche. Later we see an aerial view of the Berliner Dom, and watch Esty walk towards the Brandenburg Gate, stroll along the Landwehr Canal, and emerge from the underground station at Potsdamer Platz.

  • Where is Unorthodox filmed?

    Within these scene-setting shots are specific locations, many in the Kreuzberg neighbourhood (pictured), selected for its futuristic Seventies and Eighties architecture, contrasting with the mid-20th-century style of Williamsburg. Esty visits her mother at her distinctively modern apartment on Winterfeld Strasse, where large windows and balconies look out over the city. The Chalhulm Conservatory, where she makes friends with a group of musicians, is the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung (State Institute for Music Research) on Tiergartenstrasse, near the Berliner Philharmoniker.

  • Where is Unorthodox filmed?

    There’s more disconnection when Yanky arrives in Berlin, starting when he and his cousin Moishe (Jeff Wilbusch) stay at the luxurious Westin Grand on Friedrichstrasse, its wide atrium and staircase relics of its former life as a shopping centre. Moishe, careering between religious observation and the sins of the secular world, raises the stakes to threat level when he takes Etsy to a graffitied children’s playground, filmed at Crelle-Kiez on Crellestrasse in the Schöneberg district.

  • Where is Unorthodox filmed?

    With these locations come two others freighted with more significance still. Wannsee Lake (pictured), where Esty goes swimming with her new friends at the very start of her new life, is a popular beach spot familiar to all Berliners, but as Robert (Aaron Altaras) explains to her, it’s also the site of the Wannsee villa and the conference of 20 January 1942 where the Holocaust was put into action. Then, in episode three, Yanky and Moishe walk through the Weissensee Jewish cemetery, and Moishe talks about the city’s Jewish people in World War II hiding in the vault of ‘a famous singer called Schwarz’, in reference to the opera singer Joseph. After the war, this cemetery was annexed into East Germany, where it was left to nature and the overgrown state in which it largely remains. Simply seeing it on screen provokes thought but watching the two Satmar followers walking among the city’s sightseers provides as powerfully poignant a moment as any in this unusual and exceptional drama.

    Unorthodox is streaming on Netflix.

    Like this? Now read:

    Where was ‘Tiger King’ filmed?

    Where is ‘Normal People’ filmed?

Where is Normal People filmed?

The best travel documentaries to stream right now

The best road movies ever – and where they were filmed

The best road movies ever – and where they were filmed