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Representations of Jews and Jewish Life in Film

Humoresque (1947)

Directed by Jean Negulesco. Cast: Joan Crawford, John Garfield, Oscar Levant, J. Carrol Naish. A glamorous but alcoholic socialite, trapped in a marriage to an older man, finds herself falling in love with a young violinist (Garfield) from the Lower East Side whose performance she is underwriting. Lester Friedman, in his "Hollywood's Image of the Jew" (NY: Ungar, 1982), p. 36) calls the film the "quintessential ghetto film." 126 min. ; Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database
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Hungry Hearts (1922)

Directed by E. Mason Hopper. Cast: E. A. Warren, Rosa Rosanova, Helen Ferguson, Bryant Washburn, A. Budin, Edwin B. Tilton, George Siegmann, Otto Lederer, Bert Sprotte. This film focuses on the trials and challenges of the Levin family who emigrate from Eastern Europe to New York City. Filmed on location on the Lower East Side, this bittersweet classic captures the hopes and hardships of Jewish immigrants in the New World. Based on the novel by Anzia Yezierska. 80 min. ; Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Jew-Boy Levi (Viehjud Levi) (Germany / Switzerland / Austria, 1998)

Directed by Didi Danquart. Cast: Bruno Cathomas, Caroline Ebner, Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Noethen, Bern Michael Lade, Eva Mattes, Gerhard Olschewski. A peaceful, isolated community is engulfed by the hatred and violence of the outside world in this taut drama set in pre-war Germany. Levi, the Jewish cattle dealer, makes his annual trip to a remote farming village but things have changed since his last visit. Nazi propaganda has infected the town and Levi realizes that he has become a target. 90 min.

Jewish Happiness (Evreiskoe schast'e) (Soviet Union, 1925)

Directed by Granovsky Alexey. Menachem Mendel tries to make some money by selling fancy goods in the street, and then by setting up an insurance office, but his projects end in failure. Chancing upon a list of wealthy brides mislaid by a matchmaker, Menachem decides to get involved in matchmaking. The daughter of the wealthy Kimbak loves a poor Jewish lad called Zalman, but her father won’t give her his blessing. Menachem offers to find Kimbak a wealthy groom for his daughter, but owing to a series of misunderstandings he finds her a bride.

Jews In Space: or Why Is this Night Different from All Other Nights? (Judios en el espacio [o por que es diferente esta noche a las demas noches] (Argentina, 1998)

Directed by Gabriel Lichtmann. Cast: Fernando Rubio, Luna Paiva, Veronica Llinas, Beatriz Spelzini, Gerardo Chendo, Axel Anderson. A Jewish family in Buenos Aires comes together to celebrate Passover, despite petty jealousy, mismatched romantic feelings, and a suicidal patriarch. 89 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Joy (Muchrachim Lehiyot Same'ach) (Israel, 2005)

Directed by Julie Shles. Cast: Sigalit Fuchs, Tal Friedman, Keren Mor, Yosi Polak, Rivka Michaeli. Joy Levine, oversized but with an enormous heart, is chosen to throw a surprise party for her parents for the reality television show, "Gotta Be Happy." The theme of the show, to be aired right after Yom Kippur, is forgiveness. Joy has to get all of her parents' estranged friends to the party to achieve a reconciliation, but the price she must pay is sharing a dark secret that has hung over the Levines for 22 years. 90 min.

Judith of Bethulia (1913)

Directed by D.W. Griffith. Cast: Blanche Sweet, Henry Walthall, Mae Marsh, Robert Harron, Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Kate Bruce Based on the narrative poem by Thomas Bailey Aldrich in which a wealthy and pious Jewish widow disguises herself as a courtesan, goes to the camp of the Assyrian general who is besieging her city, and cuts off his head. A film adaptation of the Old Testament story of Judith and "Captain Holofernes." 60 min.; Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Kadosh (Sacred) (Israel / France, 1999)

Directed by Amos Gitai. Cast: Yael Abecassis, Yoram Hattab, Meital Barda, Uri Klauzner, Yussef Abu Warda, Lea Koenig, Sami Hori, Rivka Michaeli. The story of two Hasidic sisters living in the Mea Shearim area of Jerusalem. Rivka and her husband are deeply in love, but he obeys his rabbi father and divorces her after 10 childless years of marriage. Rivka's sister Malka loves a man who has left Hasidism after joining the army, but accepts the marriage her parents have arranged to the rabbi's assistant. 117 min.

Kedma (Italy / Israel / France, 2002)

Directed by Amos Gitai. Cast: Andrei Kashkar, Helena Yaralova, Moni Moshonov, Juliano Merr, Yussef Abu Warda, Menachem Lang, Sandy Bar, Tomer Ruso, Veronica Nicole, Liron Levo. A group of European Jewish refugees arrive in Palestine in the critical year of 1948. Carried on deck of the freighter, Kedma, they come ashore to find not the Promised Land, but a war torn desert in the bloody throes of transformation into the state of Israel.

Keeping Up with the Steins (2006)

Directed by Scott Marshall. Cast: Jami Gertz, Daryl Hannah, Garry Marshall, Jeremy Piven, Doris Roberts, Daryl Sabara, Larry Miller, Richard Benjamin, Cheryl Hines. Adam Fiedler is a Hollywood agent who wants nothing more than to give his son Ben the lavish bar mitzvah he rightly deserves. Trouble is, Adam's archrival and former business partner Arnie Stein has already thrown a spectacular bar mitzvah for his own son. Now Adam feels intense pressure to keep up with the Steins. Adam's estranged father Irwin has been living on an Indian reservation with his younger girlfriend Sacred Feather.

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