Jewish Film Archive Online
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Meschugge

TITLE: Meschugge
YEAR: 1998
DIR/PROD: Dani Levy
COUNTRY: Germany
LANGUAGE: English
TIME: 107 minutes in 35mm
SOURCE:
TEXT: A sexy and psycological thriller about two families in America and Germany, their two generations, and their shared pasts. Long dormant emotions emerge and cannot be suppressed and hidden. Love, hate, revenge, reconciliation (oh, u mean like Thanksgiving dinner?) Co-written by the German actress Maria Schrader. Shown at the San Francisco Jewish Film Fest, July 1999, and Toronto FF, 1998.

The Seventh Million

TITLE: The Seventh Million
YEAR: 1996
DIR/PROD: Benny Brunner
COUNTRY: Israel/Germany/Netherlands
LANGUAGE: Hebrew with English ST
TIME: 104 minutes in video
SOURCE: Benny Brunner, Weteringschans 40/1, Amsterdam 1017 SH The Netherlands dov@xs4all.nl Tel: 31.20.627.7859
TEXT: A video essay based on the book of the same title by Tom Segev that discusses the Zionist leadership's response to the Nazi Holocaust. The film documents the disturbing postwar reception given to survivors who found themselves residing in a Zionist culture that was devoted to the hero, not the victim. According to the film, the Eichmann trial in the early 1960's was a group therapy for the survivors living in Israel, who were finally allowed to tell their story. Includes interviews with critics of this theory also. US Premiere at the San Francisco Jewish Film Fest, July 1999

Who's The Caboose

TITLE: Who's The Caboose
YEAR: 1997
DIR/PROD: Sam Seder
COUNTRY: USA
LANGUAGE: English
TIME: 93 minutes in 35mm
SOURCE: Pilot Season Inc, 425 Park Avenue, Suite 10A, New York, NY 10016 Website: www.pilotseason.com Tel: 212.689.2912
TEXT: This is a mock-umentary about Los Angeles' comedy biz. Susan is a 20-something New Yorker who goes out West during "television sit-com pilot season." A documentary film crew from NYU film crew, which was going to do a film about homelessness abandons their project to follow her out to LA and document her job search. Her boyfriend Max follows her to LA uninvited. The road to Hollywood fame is paved with stressed out obnoxious personal assistants (everyone in Hollywood has one), agents, casting directors, and fair-weather friends. Includes such "struggling jewish actors" as Andy Dick (News Radio), David Cross (Mr Show), Laura Silverman (Dr Katz), Sarah Silverman (Seinfeld) who plays Susan, and Jon Benjamin (plays Max)

Biography of a Young Accordian Player

TITLE: Biography of a Young Accordian Player
YEAR: 1994
DIR/PROD: Satybaldy Narymbetov
COUNTRY: Kazakhstan
LANGUAGE: Russian and Kazakh with English ST
TIME: 90 minutes in 35mm
SOURCE: Satybaldy Narymbetov, Almaty Kazakhstan, Fax: 7-3272-481-155
TEXT: A semi-autobiographical chronicle of growing up in Kazakhstan in the late 1940's. Eskin, a young boy, is the town's master accordian player (listen for the Yiddish tunes). Eskin's best friend is Yuri, a quiet insightful boy (Based on Yuri Mamin, the acclaimed Russian Jewish director). Stalin is sending his misfits, Japanese POW's, and radicals to Kazakhstan. Eskin's father befriends a POW and gains insight into the regime of Comrade Stalin. Shown at the San Francisco Jewish Film Fest, July 1999

The Danube Exodus

TITLE: The Danube Exodus
YEAR: 1998
DIR/PROD: Peter Forgacs
COUNTRY: Hungary
LANGUAGE: English
TIME: 60 minute video
SOURCE: Peter Forgacs, Mese koz 10 Budapesr H-1121 Hungary tel: 36 1.200-7624 Email at pforgacs@mail.datanet.hu or contact Cesar Messemaker at Lumen Film Tel: 011-31-20- 623-2600
TEXT: A found footage film with narration from private diaries. Footage from film shot by the riverboat captain from Danube cruise from 1938-1945. He filmed the transformation of his elegant riverboat into a refugee liner for escaping Jews, who were floating through the Black Sea to Palestine. The captain's diaries talk of the hopes and anxieties of his passengers as they dance, pray and find romance. In the 1940's the boat begins to carry Bessarabian Germans to Poland. They were expelled by the USSR in 1940. Shown at the San Francisco Jewish Film Fest, July 1999. Jerusalem Film Fest, July 2000. More explanation... Summer 1939. In a far corner of Europe, all still appears tranquil. In Budapest, Captain Andrasovits, also an amateur filmmaker, prepares the "Erzsebet Kiralyne" (Queen Elisabeth) for a pleasure cruise on the Danube. The president of the Slovakian Jewish community hires the boat to transport 900 members of his community to the Black Sea. There, they will board another ship that will take them to Promised Land. On July 3, 1939, the passengers, amon them 100 women and 50 children, board. They pass Yugoslavia and Romania, and spend long days of waiting in the waters outside of Bulgaria due to British refusal to let the ship pass through Bulgarian territory. Food and water run out and a feeling of uncertainty prevails. Before they reach their destination, a couple is married and given the Captain's cabin for the wedding night. Meanwhile, the German and Soviet governments sign an agreement whereby parts of Bassarabia will pass to Soviet control. The German residents must be moved to the Motherland, and the "Erzsebet Kiralyne" is one of the boats hired to carry them

Pushcarts and Plantations Jewish Life in Louisiana

TITLE: Pushcarts and Plantations Jewish Life in Louisiana
YEAR: 1998
DIR/PROD: Brian Cohen
COUNTRY: USA
LANGUAGE: English
TIME: 54 minutes video
SOURCE: Apple West Productions, 327 East 88th Street, Suite 15, New York, NY 10128. Tel: 212.348.7740 Email: bcohen@applewest.com Web: www.applewest.com
TEXT: From Louisiana's beginning as a French colony, Louisiana Jews have developed a unique Jewish culture steeped in Cajun and Creole influences. From New Orleans to Lake Charles and Shreveport, Jews show us Mardi Gras, small town southern life, and kosher Cajun culture. Shown at the San Francisco Jewish Film Fest, July 1999

Adio

TITLE: Adio
YEAR: 1998
DIR/PROD: gregory Viens
COUNTRY: USA
LANGUAGE: English
TIME: 19 minute video
SOURCE: gregroy viens, 333 s bedford drive, beverly hills, ca 90212. Tel: 310.552.7902 Email: gviens@prodigy.net
TEXT: A film about storytelling and storylistening, ADIO observes the transmission of knowledge and identity between a mother, daughter, and granddaughter in Los Angeles. What emerges is a loving portrait of a Sephardic family from the Island of Rhodes. Shown at the San Francisco Jewish Film Fest, July 1999

Jews and Buddhism: Belief Amended, Faith Revealed

TITLE: Jews and Buddhism: Belief Amended, Faith Revealed
YEAR: 1999
DIR/PROD: Bill Chayes and Isaac Solotaroff
COUNTRY: USA
LANGUAGE: English
TIME: 41 minute video
SOURCE: Bill Chayes, Judah Magnes Museum, 2911 Russell Street, Berkeley, CA 94705 Tel: 510.549.6950
TEXT: Did you know that David Ben Gurion practiced Buddhist meditation? Using archival footage, including footage from the trip eight Jewish scholars took to India (Jew in the Lotus), this film takes the viewer on a journey into the spiritual underpinnings of 2 cultures. Includes interviews with Allen Ginsburg, Rabbi Alan Lew, Sylvia Boorstein and Jack Kornfeld. They exalt in the way their Jewish identities are enriched through meditation. Shown at the San Francisco Jewish Film Fest, July 1999

In The Beginning: Once Upon a Time... There Were Arab Jews

TITLE: In The Beginning: Once Upon a Time... There Were Arab Jews
YEAR: 1997
DIR/PROD: Serge Lalou
COUNTRY: France
LANGUAGE: French and Arabic with English ST
TIME: 57 minute video
SOURCE: catherine Roux, Les Films d'ici, 12 rue Clavel,Paris 75019 France. Email at films.dici@wanadoo.fr Tel: 33 1 4452 2323
TEXT: A story of Jews living in the Islamic world as neighbors with Moslems. The memories of 3 generations of a family now living in France, but from Laghouat Algeria. They recall a Islamic Jewish culture where Jews and Muslims worked, studied and socialized together, and sought common ground in the Torah and the Koran. Shown at the San Francisco Jewish Film Fest, July 1999

Get Bruce!

TITLE: Get Bruce!
YEAR: 1999
DIR/PROD: Andrew J. Kuehn
COUNTRY: USA
LANGUAGE: English
TIME:
SOURCE: Miramax Films
TEXT: Who writes Billy Crystal's or Whoopie's lines at the Oscars? A documentary portrait of the comedy writer Bruce Vilanch, who many may know as the wild haired comic on the New Hollywood Squares, who is actually Hollywood's top writer. Stars Bette Midler, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Lily Tomlin, Nathan Lane, Roseanne, Carol Burnett, Florence, Henderson, Rosie O'Donnell, Shirley MacLaine, Paul Reiser, and Sigourney Weaver to name just a few. Bruce Vilanch has written the scripts for the last eight Oscars telecasts, the Emmy's, Tony's, Comic Relief, and Grammy's, etc. The wild haired blond from Paterson, New Jersey, has had his fingers in more pilots than the staff doctor at American Airlines. Formerly a feature writer for the Chicago Tribune, he can now be found once a month in the pages of the Advocate as author of a column entitled,"Notes From A Blond". He has also written for and organized dozens of benefits for AIDS-related causes or Jewish or gay (or Jewish and gay) issues or groups. Music by Michael Feinstein.

Whiteboys

TITLE: Whiteboys
YEAR: 1999
DIR/PROD: Marc Levin / Henri Kessler, Richard Stratton, Ezra Swerdlow
COUNTRY: USA
LANGUAGE: English
TIME: 89
SOURCE: Fox Searchlight Video
TEXT: Danny Hoch is one of the greatest performance artists / monologuists of the decade. In his show, "Jails, Hospitals and Hip Hop", which I saw at PS 122 in Manhattan, Danny introduced the audience to a character named Flip Dogg, a phat, bad-ass gangsta rapper who just happens to be white and living in Iowa's cornfields. Flip tells people that he has a rare skin disorder that makes him white on the outside even though he is black on the inside. If only he was born in Cabrini Green/Chicago and not Iowa. Now Flip Dogg has hit the big screen, in a thought provoking script and performance about rural white kids who maintain perceptions of urban black gangsta life, and what happens when perceptions meet reality. Produced by Henri Kessler, Richard Stratton and Ezra Swerdlow, "Whiteboys" stars Danny Hoch, Dash Mihok, Mark Webber, Piper Perabo, Eugene Byrd and Bonz Malone with special appearances by Fat Joe, Dead Prez, Mic Geronimo, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh and Snoop Dogg. Marc Levin's next project is "Brooklyn Babylon," the story of a young rasta rapper on the verge of breaking out who falls in love with a young Jewish woman chafing at the strict confines of her background.

Blair Princess Project

TITLE: Blair Princess Project
YEAR: 1999
DIR/PROD: Paul Goldberg
COUNTRY: USA
LANGUAGE: English
TIME:
SOURCE: Email Tomata@aol.com
TEXT: A parody of the Blair Witch Project. Three Jewish women get lost in the Malibu Hills (California) searching for their friend, Blair Rosenfarb's wedding to a doctor. Available from www.blairprincess.com

Peace of Mind

TITLE: Peace of Mind
YEAR: 1999
DIR/PROD: Mark Landman / Susan Siegal of Global Action Network
COUNTRY: USA
LANGUAGE: English
TIME: 57
SOURCE: Global Action Project/Global Action Network, new address on West 37th Street in NYC. http://www.global-action.org/ 212-594 9577
TEXT: As seen on ABC TV Nightline, and at Hamptonsfest 1999 and San Fracisco Jewish Film Fest 2000. Guess Who's Coming To Dinner Meets the Middle East....4 Israeli and 4 Palestinian teens were given cameras to make this home movie cum documentary about what happens when an Israeli, who will soon enter the army, invites some Palestinians over for dinner. A year in the lives of some Israeli Jewish and Palestinian teens who did the 1997 Seeds of Peace Summer Camp in Maine program. Okay now for my notes to file: Because the directors couldn't come up with a unified version of history, the show two archival pieces, one of Jews returning to the Mandate, the other of Palestinians being displaced in 1948. The project nearly ended when Yossi Zilberman called Hamas members terrorists and the Palestinian youth took offense. One of the most controversial scenes takes place in Kiryat Gat, when Bushra Jawabri of the West Bank visits Mr. Zilberman. Zilberman is seen as cold when Jawabri cries as she collects soil for her family from the abandoned grave of a Muslim holy man. Bushra sees the sandy soil of the area; she expected lush greenness as described by her family in their recollections. Bushra also visits Sivan Ronen, and Sivan visits Bushra's home. Sivan understands the Bushra's dream is her nightmare. After the film was finished, Yossi Zilberman, 18, and Yaron Avni, 18, wrote letters to the director, criticizing the final cut as showing them in an unfair light. Participants included Yaron Avni, Yossi Zilberman, Amer Kamal, Sivan Ranon, Bushra Jawabri, Hazem Zaanoun;

Now and Then: From Frosh To Seniors

TITLE: Now and Then: From Frosh To Seniors
YEAR: 1999
DIR/PROD: Dayna Goldfine and Daniel Geller
COUNTRY: USA
LANGUAGE: English
TIME: 87
SOURCE: Try California Newsreel at newsreel.org
TEXT: Now & Then: From Frosh to Seniors" by Dayna Goldfine and Daniel Geller's is an honest look at a diverse mix of ten Stanford students looking back on their collegiate years. It is the sequel to the 1993 cinema verite, "FROSH", in which the documentarians spent a year on a Stanford University freshman dorm floor. Frosh highlighted such key issues as maintaining ethnic identity on a predominantly white campus, and Eurocentric versus multicultural curricula and minority student retention. It documents students' difficult search for personal identity within an increasingly diverse student population. Nothing less than a contemporary American coming of age story. They also made the South Bronx doc, "Kids of Survival".

Lost and Found: The Journey of the Ark

TITLE: Lost and Found: The Journey of the Ark.
YEAR: 1998
DIR/PROD: Marije Meerman
COUNTRY: Romania/Netherlands
LANGUAGE: Romanian and Dutch with English Subtitles
TIME: 55 min. 16mm film.
SOURCE: contact Marije at +31 20 422 94 69. Fax: +31 20 626 1885.
Email: M.Meerman@direct.a2000.nl Or try distributer at Vpro-Televisie, Postbus 11, 1200 JC Hilversum, Amsterdam Netherlands.
Or Stichting Academy Productions, Zoutkeetsgracht 116 NL 1013, LC Amsterdam.
TEXT: In 1989, when the Communist dictatorship of Romania fell, a group of extremely devout "black stocking" Dutch Reformed Protestants saw the poverty of Romania on Dutch television, collected food and clothes and trucks, and drove towards Transylvania, crossed the un-guarded border, and arrived at a Dutch Reformed Church of Hungarians living among the Romanians. So began a semi-annual mercy mission by these Dutch Protestants. In the 1990's, these aid workers noticed the remnants of a very large "aron hakodesh" or Torah Ark in the church attic. After the town synagogue (furniture store after the war) was demolished, the pastor of the church stored the shul's ark in the church attic. Once back in the Netherlands, the church members contacted Mottel Aronson, a Dutch Jew in Amsterdam and told them of their find. Mister Aronson investigated and got the permission of the sole remaining Jews of the town to export the ark to Israel. After a year of trying to get the ark, Mister Aronson offered this film's director the opportunity to film the process of getting the ark. The film begins with the various factions-- the group of devout Protestant aid workers from a Dutch fishing village, Mister Aronson, and the pastor of the sparse Transylvanian church -- battling over who should inherit the Ark. For nearly a decade, the aid workers have been providing this town with clothes, beds, and medical equipment. All they ask in return is this ark for the Jewish community. Emotions rise as missionary fervor, economic interests, and bureaucratic complications become entangled in this documentary. The editing of the last minute of the film is genius.
A note on the eerie Jewish tunes in the film: one piece is sung by Marta Sebestyen (of The English Patient), and by the Hungarian group Muszikas. To get a better taste of the music, purchase,
Maramaros: The Lost Jewish Music of Transylvania, by Muzsikas.
Note to file: Notice how the one child is shooed away from the distribution of food. At the time of the filming there were problems between the Reformed church members and the dominant Catholic and non-church going population in the Hung/Rom. Part of Transylvania.

And Baby Makes Two

TITLE: And Baby Makes Two
YEAR: 1999
DIR/PROD: Judy Katz, Oren Rudavsky.
COUNTRY: USA
LANGUAGE: English
TIME: 59 in 16mm
SOURCE: First Run Features, 153 Waverly Place, New York, NY 10014, Tel: 212-243-0600, Fax: 212-989-7649, email: firstrun@firstrunfeatures.com
TEXT: You may be used to the idiom, "And Baby Makes Three", as in Mommy, Daddy, and then baby. But what about single parenthood? During the course of two years, the directors (Oren did an earlier film on Hasidism in America) followed eight single women (some Jewish) in New York City who were determined to experience motherhood without husbands or lovers. The film captures their joys and disappointments as they pursue international adoption and alternative insemination.

Zyklon Portrait

TITLE: Zyklon Portrait
YEAR: 1999
DIR/PROD: Schogt Elida
COUNTRY: Canada
LANGUAGE: English
TIME: 13 minutes in 16mm
SOURCE: Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre; 37 Hanna Avenue, Ste. 220; Toronto, Ontario M6K1W8, Canada. Tel: 416-588-0725 Fax:416-588-7956 Email: cfmdc@cfmdc.org
TEXT: Zyklon B is a crystal that produces the deadly gas used in the concentration camps during WWII. Impressionistic imagery, family photographs, and home movies are set against a narrative that alternates between familial intimacy and a voice of authority producing a haunting reminder of how human evil is manifested when science is used in the service of destruction. Zyklon Portrait is a Holocaust film without Holocaust imagery: family photographs, underwater photography and hand-painted imagery draw a personal story out of historical minutiae. The process of making an icily objective film history of Zyklon B, the pesticide reapplied by the Nazi's as the means of mass murder, provokes Schogt's mother to break her fifty-year silence about memories of the Holocaust. This counterpoint of history, science, and memory creates an oblique but unforgettable elegy for the filmmaker's murdered grandparents and a definitive Holocaust film without Holocaust imagery. After Elida Schogt, originally from Princeton, NJ, received her BA in French from the University of Toronto, she lived for two years in Paris, taught English and took courses at the L'École des Beaux Arts. Recently, she graduated from the New School for Social Research with an MA in Media Studies. W.W. II, the Holocaust and questions about collective and personal memory have been and remain central to her work. It has been screened at Toronto International Film Festival, 1999; Brisbane International Film Festival, 1999; Denver Jewish Film Festival, 1999; Cinematheque Ontario, Oct. 1999; International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Films, Oct. 1999; Boston Jewish Film Festival, Nov. 1999; Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival, New York, Nov. 1999; Jerusalem Cinematheque, Nov. 1999.

Regret To Inform

TITLE: Regret To Inform
YEAR: 1998
DIR/PROD: Barbara Sonneborn / Barbara Sonneborn, Janet Cole, Ron Greenberg
COUNTRY: USA
LANGUAGE: English
TIME: 90
SOURCE: http://www.artlic.com
TEXT: Oscar nominee. Sundance 99 winner. Golden Spire winner. On January 1, 1968, Barbara Sonneborn's husband, Jeff Gurvitz, left to fight in the Vietnam War. Eight weeks later, on February 29, 1968, he crawled out of a foxhole during a mortar attack to rescue his radio operator and was killed. Sonneborn learned of her husband's death on her 24th birthday. "We regret to inform you..." read the official notice. When his personal effects were returned three months later, his dog tags and wedding ring were encrusted with his own blood. The shock and grief eased with the years, but not the anger. On January 1, 1988, twenty years after Jeff's death, Sonneborn woke up suddenly determined to do something about his death in the Vietnam War. She began to write Jeff a heart wrenching letter to tell him the impact that his death had on her life. She recalls the night before he left, writing, "You were so alive, so filled, filled with life... How could you not come back?" This on-going letter is the narrative thread of Regret to Inform. In all those years Sonneborn had met only one other Vietnam War widow. She knew that she wanted to find other widows on both sides of the conflict, to understand how their husbands' deaths had shaped their lives. What could be learned form these women's stories about war, loss, survival and healing after all these years? Sonneborn knew she had to go to Vietnam to find the place where her husband was killed, and to talk to other widows. Her documentary film Regret to Inform is both her response to her experience and the agent of her catharsis. Sonneborn interviewed over 200 widowed women by phone and in short pre-production interviews, and another 43 in person, 25 of these in Vietnam. Widows include Norma Banks, April Burns, Le Thi Ngot, Charlotte Begay, Nguyen Thi Hong, Diane Can Renselaar, Tran Nghia, Lula Bia, Grace Castillo, Phan Thi Thuan, Phan Ngoc Dung, Truong Thi Le, Thurong Thi Le, Truong Thi Huoc, Nguyen My Hein, and Nguyen Ngoc Xuan.

City Dump: The Story of the 1951 CCNY Basketball

TITLE: City Dump: The Story of the 1951 CCNY Basketball
YEAR: 1999
DIR/PROD:
COUNTRY: USA
LANGUAGE:
TIME:
SOURCE:
TEXT: When a team of Jews and blacks from CCNY won college basketball's first grand slam in 1951, the victory set off a bombshell of ethnic pride through the New York boroughs, announcing that America was truly the land of opportunity. The local heroes symbolized equality for their cultural communities during shifting social times. Subsequent revelations of game fixing shattered that brief thrill of minority victory, even though no cheating had taken place in the 1951 tournament games. This slice of Jewish sports history tells a riveting story of the winning spirit corrupted by greed.

Herr Zwilling and Frau Zuckermann

TITLE: Herr Zwilling and Frau Zuckermann
YEAR: 1999
DIR/PROD: Volker Koepp / Barbara Frankenstein
COUNTRY: Germany
LANGUAGE: Deutsch, Hebräisch, Jiddisch, Russisch, Ukrainisch mit deutschen Untertiteln
TIME: 126 in 35mm
SOURCE: First Hand Films Bahnhofstr. 21, 8180 Bülach, Schweiz Tel. (41-18) 622 106, Fax 622 146
TEXT: the most popular documentary in Germany in Fall 1999, about two elderly Jews from the Ukrainian town of Czernowitz who survived Nazi deportation. Die Zeit called it the most beautiful picture. In the west of Ukraine, not far from the border to Romania, there is a faraway European city: Czernowitz. It was once the centre of Jewish culture in the Bukowina, a border area characterized over centuries by a multi-cultural mixture of peoples. Here, Ukrainians, Poles, Romanians, Germans and Jews lived side by side. Jewish shtetls dotted the countryside of Galicia. Until World War I, Czernowitz belonged to Austria-Hungary, then it became part of Romania, after the Hitler-Stalin pact it was part of the Soviet Union, then the Romanians returned together with the Germans, afterwards it belonged to the Soviet Union again. 'It is a region where people and books used to live', the poet Paul Celan once said about the lost world of his youth which continues to exist only in literature and in memory. Emigration, expulsion and destruction of the Jews. In Czernowitz, where temporarily half the population was Jewish, only a few survived deportations into Transnistria's death camps ordered by the Germans AND Romanians in 1941. Volker Koepp's film focuses on Mr. Zwilling and Mrs. Zuckermann, two of the last few Jews born in the old Czernowitz. They share a friendship but also their love for the German language. Mr. Zwilling visits 90-year-old Mrs. Zuckermann daily in the early hours of the evening. They talk about old times, about shared events, about politics and literature and the worries of everyday life. The life story of these two people contains all the miseries of this century. The film combines their memories and episodes from Jewish life in contemporary Czernowitz, which is beginning to revive since the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

Liberty Heights

TITLE: Liberty Heights
YEAR: 1999
DIR/PROD: Barry Levinson / Patrick McCormick
COUNTRY: USA
LANGUAGE: English
TIME: 100
SOURCE: Warner Brothers
TEXT: Written and directed by Barry Levinson, who gave us the other Baltimore classics of Diner(82), Avalon(90), and Tin Men(87), as well as Rain Man (87), Good Morning Vietnam, Bugsy, Wag the Dog, the Homicide tv series, etc. This can be considered the "most Jewish" of these four films, especially since the word "jewish" appears three times in the first 60 seconds. The period is the 1950's (1954) in the Jewish neighborhood of Liberty Heights in Baltimore. It is Levinson's personal homage to growing up Jewish under Eisenhower, school desegregation, and rock and roll. From one Rosh haShana to the next, the world is changing: Jews meet non-Jews, whites meet blacks, burlesque meets television, numbers meet the lotteries. Nate Kurtzman (isn't that Levinson's mother's maiden surname?) (Joe Mantegna) is the daddy who happens to run numbers. He also owns a dying burlesque house. Ben (Iowan Ben Foster, Flash Forward; and Eli from Freaks and Geeks) and syl-Van (New Yorker Adrien Brody, Summer of Sam, King of the Hill) are Nate's two sons. Bebe Neuwirth plays the Ada, the mommy. While sensitive high school student Ben falls for Sylvia (singer and actress Rebekah Johnson), a black classmate, and ventures into the unknown world of black neighborhoods and families, college-student Van (the Levinson surrogate) falls for Dubbie (Supermodel, Carolyn Murphy), a stereotype of the white, Protestant, country-club member. Some say that the second half of the film becomes a tad too melodramatic; others criticize the portrait of Little Melvin (Orlando Jones from Mad TV) and Dubbie, but it is a touching, wonderful film nonetheless. See www.liberty-heights.com
Notes to file: Take note of the diner scenes which use some of the original "friends" from Levinson's feature debut "Diner." Composer ANDREA MORRICONE, is the son of Ennio Morricone. This is his first film score. Take note of the graduation robes colors at the end of the film. What do you think of the choice of the high holiday prayer at the film's end? Dubbie and Trey may be stereotypes, but that is how they were perceived by the residents of Liberty Heights. Sheldon is played by Evan Nuemann, and Murray by Gerry Rosenthal. The character of Ben is based on Levinson's cousin Eddie (who lived three houses from the house used in the film). The best lines are given to Yussel (played by David Krumholtz (from The Adams Family and Slums of Beverly Hills) and Alan (played by Kevin Sussman). The location of the James Brown concert was filmed in Frederick, Maryland, since Pennsylvania Avenue was destroyed during subsequent riots. The synagogue location is Rabbi David E. Herman's Shaarei Tfiloh Synagogue on the corner of Liberty Heights and Holmes Avenue. The Cantor is played by Barry Black, who was discovered at a wedding in Woodbury Long Island. He was asked to record Bayom Hahu. Take note of the Pillsbury Jewboy's Studebaker. In terms of wardrobe, the Jewish kids were all attired in novelty shirts. Oh and of course, ADA'S MOTHER, ROSE, IS PLAYED BY FRANIA RUBINEK (seen also in Avalon as Faye Krichinsky).

Rashi: A Light After The Dark

TITLE: Rashi: A Light After The Dark
YEAR: 1999
DIR/PROD: Ashley Lazarus / Allan Leicht
COUNTRY: USA
LANGUAGE: English, or a subtitled Hebrew version
TIME: 56.5 minutes on video
SOURCE: www.rashi.net
TEXT: Rashi is the first film in a series of dramas that focus on the public and private lives a Jewish leaders and scholars. Rashi's voice is performed by the former Yiddish Actor and Star Trek performer, Leonard Nimoy. The animated video is about the 11th Century French (Troyes/Champagne/Provence) wine growing scholar and commentator on the Torah and Talmud, Rabbi Solomon (Shlomo) ben Isaac (Rashi). The face of Rashi is based on a composite of the Chofetz Chayim, Moshe Feinstein, Zalman Auerbach and other gedolim (hmmm... and I suppose that the patriarchs, prophets and kings were all fair-skinned). Winner of Best Animation at the Atlantic City Film Festival. Also starring: Armand Assante as the mystical Inkman and Paul Scofield as the Narrator

Seder Trek

TITLE: Seder Trek
YEAR: 1999
DIR/PROD: Shachar Zefania
COUNTRY: Israel
LANGUAGE: Hebrew with English ST
TIME: 56
SOURCE: email the director at Ber-Mar@Zahav.net.il
TEXT: A documentary about what may be the world's largest Passover seder. Zefania, 30, a TAU Film School grad made this pic for $40,000. It is a plea for religious tolerance among Israelis. Why are young, secular Israelis less hostile towards religious Judaism when they are trekking in Nepal? The film tries to explain the tracking some of the 1,000 Israeli trekkers who show up for the annual Chabad-sponsored Passover seder in Katmandu. As Zefania treks to Gokio Peak in the Himalayas we find others seeking a good time at the seder.

UMAN

TITLE: UMAN - The Story of a Journey
YEAR: 1998
DIR/PROD: Noam Demsky
COUNTRY: Israel
LANGUAGE: English and Yiddish and Hebrew with English ST
TIME: 38 minutes in video
SOURCE: Contact the consulate Foreign Ministry at TarbutNY@israelfm.com
TEXT: You probably remember Noam Demsky's work from his film, IDO. Now, he gives us a rare glimpse into the world of Bratslaver flavor of Hasidic Orthodoxy during the annual Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) pilgrimage of thousands of Jewish men to the grave of the famed Rabbi Nahman of Bratislav (Bratslav), in Uman, the Ukraine/Moldavia. Focusing on four diverse men, the spiritual presence of the Rabbi draws them into a mysterious experience. These men are a scholar, the organizer of the trip, a musician, and a soldier. At the same time the pull of those they left behind exerts its own unique and at times conflicting force upon them. Like the liturgy of Rosh Hashanah, the film traces the tension that builds toward the intense moment of judgment and atonement on Yom Kippur. Jerusalem-born Noam Demsky completed his military service before attending the Ma'aleh Film School and becoming an independent film director (Ma'aleh is a more Orthodox film school). His films have been shown on Israel television and also abroad. Demsky and his wife spent a year in Moldava where they set up a school for Jewish youth in Kishniev. It was on that trip that he first visited Uman.

The Yearning Heifer

TITLE: The Yearning Heifer
YEAR: 1997
DIR/PROD: Alexander Gorshanov
COUNTRY: Russia
LANGUAGE: Russian with English ST
TIME: 25 minutes on 35mm
SOURCE:
TEXT: In this droll, updated version of a story by I. B. Singer, a young Moscow radio personality, in the doldrums, flees the city. Answering an ad offering a bargain-priced room at a country estate, he finds much less and much more than he hoped for. Walking into a delightful mix of Chekhovian dysfunction and a "farmer's daughter" joke, he quickly becomes embroiled in a family row and then emerges as the catalyst for changes that would have been impossible had his visit never taken place. And then there's that cow. Alexander Gorshanov was born in Riga, Latvia, in 1967. In 1991, he completed his degree in Physics at the University of Latvia. Two years later, he graduated from the renowned Moscow film school VGIK with his third film, Yearning Heifer. He currently lives in Moscow.

L. A. Mohel

TITLE: L. A. Mohel
YEAR: 1999
DIR/PROD: David Bezmozgis / USC
COUNTRY: USA
LANGUAGE: English
TIME: 25 minutes
SOURCE: visit http://www.filmakers.com Rental: $55, Sale $195
TEXT: Winner at the Judah Magnes competition. This film explores the lives of Los Angeles' top mohel, or ritual circumcisers - a rabbi, a nurse midwife, and a young physician who is the "mohel to the stars". What L.A. Mohel does exceptionally well is to show how this 3700 year-old ritual is an occasion for joy and celebration, and how Jews of various cultural backgrounds express their identity, their faith, and their family ties, in these early moments of life.

Makolet

TITLE: Makolet
YEAR: 1999
DIR/PROD: Ilana Goldberg
COUNTRY: USA
LANGUAGE: English
TIME: 24 minutes
SOURCE: visit http://www.filmakers.com/NEW.html Rental $55, Sale $225, but haggle, dude
TEXT: Winner at the Judah Magnes competition. This film focuses on the makolet's or little grocery shops of the Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn. This upbeat documentary depicts the social space of a kosher Middle Eastern grocery store in the traditionally Sephardic section of Brooklyn. Serving the local Syrian Jewish clientele, it has now also become a kind of social headquarters for expatriate Israelis as well as other Middle Eastern customers. Impromptu interviews with customers reveal their nostalgia for other places and times, as well as their ambivalence about life in America. The vividly polyglot customers - Hebrew, English, Syrian and Egyptian Arabic as well as snippets of other languages are heard - paint a portrait of the complexities of multicultural life in a diaspora setting and the compromises necessary to forging a new identity in a new place.

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