A powerful, funny, moving and important film that follows the legendary Yiddish diva Zypora Spaisman, who is considered by many the woman who has kept Yiddish Theater alive in the US. The film has the last filmed interview with Yiddish superstar Seymour Rechzeit, as well as rare footage of the Second Avenue deli, and it's owner. The film also has amazing footage of the Hebrew actors union, just before all the rare archival footage was discovered and moved out of the rotting basement. This is a masterpiece documentary with footage that will make anyone both laugh and cry in every scene.Written by
Documentary - Yiddish Theater - New York City - 2006
YIDDISH THEATER: A Love Story A Documentary Film by DAN KATZIR Reviewed by Martin Brandfon
I had the opportunity to see this gem of a film at the Peninsula JCC in Foster City, CA, last month (with the Director in attendance) and if you find it playing anywhere near you, call your friends and family to go see it!
Perhaps the title of the film is a little misleading; this is not a Yiddish film but it is a "love story" on many levels. (There are subtitles for the Yiddish parts and to help better understand the star's accented English.) The love objects are many: keeping Yiddish theater alive in New York; the close relationships between the dedicated "Yiddish Diva" Zypora Spaisman and her producer David Romeo; as well as the growing rapport between the film maker and his subject.
Filmed against the backdrop of New York City at Hanukkah time in 2000, the story unfolds: the aged but energetic star of the Yiddish Public Theater is trying to bring her off-Broadway production of Peretz' 1916 play, "Green Fields," to a theater closer to Times Square to attract bigger audiences. Despite a great review in the New York Times and inclusion as one of the 10 Best Off-Broadway Plays by the New York Post, raising enough money to move the show is the problem and the goal. The burning Hanukkah candles tick off the days until the final curtain falls.
The film captures the spirit and drive of the actress and provides an intimate portrait of the impact of her life's work on the play's cast, her family, her friends and ultimately on Yiddish theater. It also proves that no matter how old you are, dreams really can come true. Zypora Spaisman is an inspiration and Dan Katzir has preserved her unforgettable character for this generation.
In speaking to the Director, Dan Katzir, I realized that a parallel struggle exists in producing theater and distributing this documentary to wider audiences. The film has recently been shown in New York City at the Pioneer Theatre and in Los Angeles at Laemmle's Grande. Both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times gave it positive reviews but these screenings were limited runs. (Last year's showings at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival were sold out hits!)
So, if you are in a position to bring this film to your synagogue, JCC or other community organization, please contact the Dan Katzir, firstname.lastname@example.org and check out his other award-winning films at www.newlovefilms.com.
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