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A Greater Promise (1936)

Iskateli schastya (original title)
During the 1920s, many impoverished Jews searching for a better life made their way to Birobidzhan, the Soviet Jewish Autonomous Region on the Chinese border. This melodrama tells the story... See full summary »

Directors:

Vladimir Korsh (as Vladimir Korsh-Sablin), Iosif Shapiro (co-director) (as I. Shapiro)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Venyamin Zuskin Venyamin Zuskin ... Pinya Kopman
Mariya Blyumental-Tamarina Mariya Blyumental-Tamarina ... Dvoina
S.K. Yarof S.K. Yarof ... Kornei
L.A. Shmidt L.A. Shmidt ... Rosa
A.M. Karef A.M. Karef ... Natan
Nikolai Valyano Nikolai Valyano ... Lyova (as N.K. Valyano)
L.M. Taits L.M. Taits ... Basya Kopman
Iona Biy-Brodskiy Iona Biy-Brodskiy ... Shloma Petrovich
Boris Zhukovsky Boris Zhukovsky ... Kornei's father (as B.E. Zhukovsky)
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Storyline

During the 1920s, many impoverished Jews searching for a better life made their way to Birobidzhan, the Soviet Jewish Autonomous Region on the Chinese border. This melodrama tells the story of a Jewish family's immigration to Birobidzhan and their experiences as settlers on a collective farm in the area. Written by National Center for Jewish Film

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Plot Keywords:

jewish | yiddish | See All (2) »

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

Soviet Union

Language:

Russian

Release Date:

7 October 1936 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Greater Promise See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Belgoskino See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

 
An excellent view into the "issue" of Birobidjian
25 October 2005 | by d-chersonSee all my reviews

I actually saw Seekers of Happiness sometime ago at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. This is a rare insight into the issue of the so-called Jewish homeland in the former USSR, i.e., Birobidjian. The film covers the journey and the efforts of one family's move to the as-yet established Birobidjian.

The conditions in the late '20's and early '30's in Birobidjian, which is located in the Russian far east, were very much analogous to that of Palestine in the the same era. The settlers drained malarial swamps, faced harsh winters, etc.

The entire 'project' of Birobidjian was circumspect and at the root of it all was one aspect of Stalin's plan to resettle Soviet Jews away from the heart of the country, and eventually to find a place to put them out of sight, all under the guise of establishing a "Jewish homeland" in the USSR.

One of the great features of Seekers of Happiness is Benjamin Zuskin, who plays the father. Zuskin's character, though idealistic at first, quickly becomes disenchanted with Birobidjian and wants to return home. Zuskin's comrades criticize him as spoiled and bourgeois, and an unpatriotic Jew.

Benjamin Zuskin was one of the great actors of the Soviet Yiddish theater. During the Anti-Semitic pogrom of the late 40's, Zuskin was one of the ill fated members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee who were arrested on phony charges of espionage and Zionism (this was a crime in the Soviet Union then), and later executed.


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