Jesters and Gestures: Performing Yiddish Culture from Silent Cinema to Avant-Garde Film

11/12/09 to 11/24/09

This journey into the world of Yiddish cinema showcases spectacular film performances and celebrates the varieties of Eastern European Jewish culture with an abundance of music, humor, irony, and self-awareness.

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  • Little Mother, November 15|The National Center for Jewish Film

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Past Films

  • Urban Peasants

    • Tuesday, November 24 7:30 pm

    Ken Jacobs (U.S., 1975). Introduced by Jeffrey Skoller. Ken Jacobs constructs a picture of Brooklyn in the thirties and forties from fragments of home movies. With Ernie Gehr short Untitled (Part One) 1981. (88 mins)

  • Jolly Paupers

    • Sunday, November 22 3:00 pm

    Leon Jeannot, Zygmund Turkow (Poland, 1937). Introduced by Zehavit Stern. The famed Warsaw cabaret duo Dzigan and Shumacher play two schlemiels in a poor shtetl who suddenly strike oil. “The closest the screen came to a Yiddish cabaret sensibility: irreverent, mordant, and consciously theatrical.”-J. Hoberman. With short I Want to Be a Boarder. (77 mins)

  • Everything's for You

    • Tuesday, November 17 7:30 pm

    Abraham Ravett (U.S., 1989). Abraham Ravett in person. Abraham Ravett examines the loss of his father, who had been a survivor of the Lodz Ghetto and Auschwitz. With Ravett shorts The March and Non-Aryan. (95 mins)

  • West and East: A Film-Translation

    • Monday, November 16 7:30 pm

    Performance by the Sala-Manca Group. Live music by Yarden Erez. This performance is both an homage to Goldin and Abramson's East and West and a study in cultural and linguistic translation. (c. 60 mins)

  • Little Mother

    • Sunday, November 15 3:00 pm

    Joseph Green (Poland, 1938). Introduced by Zehavit Stern. The inimitable Molly Picon plays mama to her siblings, her father, and the rest of the tenement in Joseph Green's film, which transposes Meyer Schwartz's play from the Lower East Side to Lodz. (95 mins)

  • East and West

    • Sunday, November 15 5:00 pm

    Sidney M. Goldin, Ivan Abramson (Austria, 1923). Introduced by Zehavit Stern. Judith Rosenberg on piano. A thoroughly modern Molly Picon steals the show in Sidney Goldin and Ivan Abramson's good-natured comedy of worldly American Jews encountering shtetl life. (85 mins)

  • The Jester

    • Saturday, November 14 6:30 pm

    Joseph Green, Jan Nowina-Przybylski (Poland, 1937). Introduced by Zehavit Stern. This musical comedy set in a Galician shtetl is “a wistful romance that's interspersed with songs but rooted in the wisecracks and banter of oral Yiddish culture.”-J. Hoberman (88 mins)

  • The Dybbuk

    • Thursday, November 12 6:30 pm

    Michał Waszyński (Poland, 1937). Introduced by Zehavit Stern. Jewish mysticism is fused with cinematic Expressionism in this haunting tale based on S. An-ski's famed folkloric play. “The most ambitious Yiddish movie of its day.”-J. Hoberman (123 mins)

  • The Man Without a World

    • Thursday, November 12 9:00 pm

    Eleanor Antin (U.S., 1991). Introduced by Jeffrey Skoller. Performance artist and experimental filmmaker Eleanor Antin conjures a lost world of Yiddish literature, cinema, and theater and reengages the debate on popular art, politics, and modernism. (98 mins)