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Representations of Jews and Jewish Life in Film

Crown Heights (TV, 2004)

Directed by Jeremy Kagan. Cast: Mario Van Peebles, Howie Mandel, Jeremy Blackman, Dequan Henderson, Jason Blicker. In August of 1991, an African American boy (Gavin Cato) was accidentally killed by a car driven by a Hasidic Jewish man in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. Four hours later Yankel Rosenbaum was murdered in retaliation. For the following three days, the Heights experienced riots and racial tensions. The efforts of an African American youth leader and a Hasidic rabbi bring the polarized communities together. During this time, two teens, Yudi Simon and T.J.

Dad on the Run (Cours toujours) (France, 2000)

Director, Dante Desarthe. Cast: Clement Sibony, Rona Hartner, Isaac Sharry, Marie Desgranges, Emmanuelle Devos. Jonah, a young musician and father to a newborn son, learns at the last minute that, according to an obscure Jewish custom, he must rush to bury the foreskin of his just-circumcised son. 89 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

David (West Germany, 1979)

Directed by Peter Lilienthal. Cast: Mario Fischel, Irene Vrkijan, Walter Taub, Eva Mattes. Based upon a true story this film focuses on the everyday life of an orthodox rabbi and his close knit family trying to survive during the Nazi persecutions. It begins when David is a small boy in Liegnitz in 1933 and follows him to his escape in 1943 as one of the last Jews to leave Germany. Based on David: Notes of a Surviver by Joel Konig. 106 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

Directed by Bruce Beresford. Cast: Morgan Freeman, Jessica Tandy, Dan Aykroyd, Patti Lupone, Esther Rolle. Set in Atlanta in the 1950's, a textile factory owner insists on hiring an ever-patient chauffeur for his aging head-strong mother. The Jewish woman and her African American driver eventually build a relationship over many years. 99 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Enemies, A Love Story (1989)

Directed by Paul Mazursky. Cast: Anjelica Huston, Ron Silver, Lena Olin, Margaret Sophie Stein, Judith Malina, Alan King. A Holocaust survivor finds himself simultaneously involved with three women: the peasant who hid him from the Nazis during the war, a beautiful concentration camp survivor, and his first wife (who he was certain was dead). 120 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Everything is Illuminated (2005)

Directed by Liev Schreiber. Cast: Elijah Wood, Eugene Hutz, Boris Leskin, Laryssa Lauret. A young American man, with the help of a local who speaks weirdly broken English, journeys to find the woman who saved his grandfather during World War II in a Ukrainian village that was ultimately razed by the Nazis. 106 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Exodus (1960)

Directed by Otto Preminger. Cast: Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint, Ralph Richardson, Sal Mineo, Peter Lawford, Lee J. Cobb. Dramatizes part of the Israeli independence moment, dealing with various factions involved in the internecine struggle between the moderate Haganah and the radical terrorist Irgun Zvai Leumi. Interspersed throughout are segments showing the migration of European Jews to the new land, paying special attention to the ragged survivors of Nazi death camps on board the vessel Exodus, blockaded in a Cyprus harbor by British warships.

Eyes Wide Open (Einayim Petukhoth) (Israel | Germany | France, 2009)

Directed by Haim Tabakman. Cast: Zohar Strauss, Ran Danker, Ravit 'Tinkerbell' Rozen. Aaron, a butcher and devout family man in Jerusalem's ultraorthodox Jewish community, has his quiet life interrupted when Erzi, a handsome, young Yeshiva student, happens on his shop. Intrigued by the young man, Aaron offers Erzi a job and becomes his friend and mentor. The two grow closer, and soon other feelings surface. As their forbidden sexual desire grows, Aaron begins to neglect his business and his family.

Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

Directed by Norman Jewison. Cast: Topol, Norma Crane, Leonard Frey, Molly Picon, Paul Mann. Tevye is a poor Jewish milkman with five unmarried daughters to support in a village in Czarist Russia. With a sharp tongued wife at home and growing anti-Semitism in the village, Tevye talks to God about his troubles. His people's traditions keep him strong when his existence is as precariously balanced as a fiddler on the roof.

Focus (2002)

Director, Neal Slavin. Cast: William H. Macy, Laura Dern, David Paymer, Meat Loaf Aday, Kay Hawtrey, Joseph Ziegler, Kenneth Welsh. This story follows a Brooklyn man and his wife who become victims of mistaken identity at the height of World War II. Their bigoted community believes that they are Jews. Slowly ostracized at home and work, they learn the value of self and solidarity as they struggle to maintain dignity and find happiness. 107 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

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