Lessons for Polygamists


Written, directed & produced by b.h. Yael, 2017

Video length 14:33 min

English (available with French subtitles)

Lessons for Polygamists premiered at the Images Film Festival, April 23, 7 pm at Town Hall (2 Sussex Drive, University of Toronto) as part of the program: Meet You More Than Half Way: The Toronto We Know


Employing animation and collage, Lessons for Polygamists takes place inside the diary of an adolescent girl growing up in a polygamous household. She lists the lessons she would convey to Dad, if only she could.

Every teenager knows better than the adults in their lives. Lessons for Polygamists reflects the righteous voice of adolescence as the young narrator attempts to make sense of her family dynamics, and more so her Dad’s behaviour. Lessons for Polygamists is my story of growing up in a polygamous family.  Through animated playfulness the images are drawn from family photographs and documentation and the stories extend the lessons to a wider audience. 


Mia Abarbanel (narrator), b.h. Yael (artist, director, producer) & Abbie Malcolm (actor) at the premiere.  Photo credit: Ali Kazimi

Mia Abarbanel (narrator), b.h. Yael (artist, director, producer) & Abbie Malcolm (actor) at the premiere.

Photo credit: Ali Kazimi


Lessons for Polygamists also screened at The Toronto Queer Film Festival on June 14, 2017.

TQFF 2017 Curatorial Statement:

This program represents our best efforts, with the very limited resources available to us, to craft a political and artistic vision of what a queer film festival should be in 2017. To build this festival, we’ve drawn from the work of queer and trans artists, activists, and curators who have come before us, as most established LGBT film festivals, like contemporary big-budget pride events, actually began in modest, community-based, activist settings. We’ve also learned from contemporary activists, artists, curators, and scholars who are building programs and movements of resistance to the state and its agents – regardless of gender and sexuality – around issues such as migration and border imperialism, racial oppression and white supremacy, corporations, settler colonialism, and pinkwashing.

We organize this festival under the sign of “queer” out of respect for the word’s activist origins as a mode of reclamation of power. For the purposes of organizing this festival, queer does not refer to any specific form of gender and/or sexual identity politics. Instead, we understand queer to be a site of organization against oppression – including restrictive and/or normative definitions of sex, gender, and sexual orientations – as well as an aesthetics and politics of resistance, playfulness, experimentation, sex, and activism.