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Motion Picture Themes:

The Jewish Experience

For use with the textbook:
"The Modern Jewish Experience in World Cinema"
edited by Lawrence Baron, Brandeis University Press, Waltham, MA - 2011

      1874-1924 - Advancement and Animosity in Western Europe

      • 1929 - Disraeli. ( minutes) Director: Alfred E. Green - United States.
      • 1937 - The Life of Emile Zola. (116 minutes - b & w) Director: William Dieterle - United States - Summary: Explores the career of the novelist who championed the cause of France's oppressed.
      • 1991 - Prisoner of Honor. (88 minutes) Director: Ken Russell - United Kingdom - Summary: Prisoner of Honor is a made-for-cable retelling of the 1894 court-martial of French Army officer Alfred Dreyfus. The historical drama stars Richard Dreyfuss (no relation) as the head of counter-intelligence who uncovers several damning pieces of evidence. It turns out that the French government has sent an innocent man to prison for their own suspicious reasons, and Dreyfuss is the only man willing to fight for the prisoner's freedom.
      • 1937 - The Grand Illusion. (114 minutes - DVD remastered - b & w) Director: Jean Renoir - France - Summary: In this classic tale of adventure duty and honor conflict in a German prisoner-of-war camp when an aristocratic French officer becomes friends with the commandant while cooperating with his comrades in a daring escape.
      • 1981 - Chariots of Fire . (124 minutes) Director: Hugh Hudson - United Kingdom - Summary: Story of two English runners that were both driven by different means to win the 1924 Olympics. One used his faith in God, and the other his hatred of Anti-Semitism.
      • 1923 - East and West (85 minutes - VHS - b & w restored version) Director: Sidney Goldin and Ivan Abrahamson - Austria, 1923. Summary: In a comedic film about assimilation and Jewish values, sophisticated New Yorker Morris Brown travels back to his village to attend his niece's traditional wedding. There he encounters the rambunctious Mollie, whose hijinks include boxing, and teaching other young villagers to shimmy.
      • 2000 - Esther Kahn (142 minutes) Director: Arnaud Desplechin - France and United Kingdom - Summary: A young Jewish migrant living in London at the turn of the 19th century works with her family in a sweatshop. But Esther is the weak link in the operation. She is slow and stubborn, she never has an opinion on anything and never feels anything for anyone. She decides to become an actress, because it is only in the theater that she awakens. It is on the stage that, one evening, she breaks through twenty years of suppressed life, and really begins to live.
      • 1999 - Solomon and Gaenor (100 minutes - VCR) Director: Paul Morrison - United Kingdom - Summary: Set in Wales in 1911, this is an ill-fated love story about a young woman, the daughter of a strict chapel-going Welch family, and a young Jewish man.
      1881-1921 - The Shtetl on the Precipice: Eastern Europe

      • 1971 - Tevye (minutes) Director: Maurice Schwartz - United States - Access: NCJF
      • 1971 - Fiddler on the Roof (179 minutes) Director: Norman Jewison - United States. Summary: 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.
      • 1983 - Yentl (137 minutes) Director: Barbra Streisand - United States - Summary: Yentl Mendel is the boyish daughter and only child of long widowed Rebbe Mendel. He teaches Talmud to local boys and secretly to Yentl since girls are not allowed to learn the law. When her father dies, Yentl is left all alone. She makes the momentous decision to leave the village and, disguised as a boy and calling herself Anshel, she seeks and gets admitted to a Yeshiva to study. She befriends Avigdor who is engaged to Haddas. Her family calls off the wedding when they discover Avigdor's brother committed suicide. Anshel then finds 'him'-self in the awkward position of being called into service as substitute bridegroom. But Haddas still wants Avigdor. After numerous complications, including Avidor and Yentl falling in love with each other and she telling him her secret, everyone gets what they want in life. Anshel, now Yentl once again, goes off to America to pursue her dream of serious study in Yeshiva, where she will be able to study without needing to hide her identity as a woman.
      • 1967 - The Commissar (105 minutes) Director: Aleksandr Askoldov - Soviet Union - Summary: Set against the Russian Civil War. Vavilova has to make a decision between motherhood for revolutionary martydom.
      • 1937 - The Dybbuk (123 minutes - b & w - digitally remastered and restored version) Director: Michal Waszynski - Poland - Summary: Years after their parents had made a pledge that they would marry, a young couple meet and fall in love. The father of the young man had long before perished and the young woman's father, forgetting his vow, keeps the two apart. The film concerns unfulfilled love, broken promises, and the supernatural, as the persona of the youth enters his beloved's body and possesses her. Inspired by S. Anski's ethnographic research among Jews living in the Polish-Russian countryside just before WWI.
      • 1982 - Austeria (110 minutes) Director: Jerzy Kawalerowicz - Poland - Summary: Early in World War I, a group of Orthodox Jews flee from the Cossack army. A secluded country inn becomes their temporary refuge, where emotional attachments, brief love affairs, and even a renewed faith in humankind inspire them.
      • 1977 - The Death of a President (Smierc prezydenta) (137 minutes) Director: Jerzy Kawalerowicz - Poland - Summary: The rebirth of Poland after World War I. The newly organized National Assembly elected Gabriel Narutowicz, a professor returning home from Switzerland to enter public life, as the first president in the history of the Polish Republic. Shows the turmoil leading to Narutowicz's election by a National Assembly divided between Polish Nationalists and the minorities, comprising one third of the population. A few days after the election the president was assassinated by a fanatic Nationalist while opening an art exhibit.
      • 1939 - A Letter to Mother (100 minutes) Director: Joseph Green and Leon Krystand - Poland - Summary: Set in the Polish Ukraine and New York City, the film traces the break-up of a family due to stress, poverty, the chaos of war and the difficulties of immigrant life. One of the last Yiddish films to be produced in Warsaw, this moving story focuses on one Jewish mother's efforts to keep her family together.
      • 1975 - Promised Land (Ziemia obiecana) (138 minutes) Director: Andrzej Wajda - Poland - Summary: The central plot concerns three Polish laborers of vastly different social, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds. Unlike many of their recalcitrant contemporaries, the three men are able to overcome their differences and work together. Eventually they create and manage a textile factory, founded upon the edicts of equality, trust, and respect.
      1880-1923 - The Americanization of the Jewish Immigrant

      • 1922 - Hungry Hearts (minutes - NCJF) Director: E. Mason Hopper - United States - Summary: Portrays the immigrant's struggle to become a "real" American. Set mostly on New York's Lower East Side, the stories brilliantly evoke crowded streets, shabby tenements, poverty, and ethnic prejudice.
      • 1975 - Hester Street (90 minutes) Director: Joan Micklin Silver - United States - Summary: A young Jewish woman comes to America in the 1890s, only to discover that her husband, Jake, has given up the ways of the old country, and taken up with a new girlfriend, and a new life.
      • 1927 - The Jazz Singer (89 minutes) Director: Alan Crosland - United States - Summary: Jakie Rabinowitz is the son of a Jewish cantor. Turning his back on family tradition, Jakie transforms himself into cabaret-entertainer Jack Robin. When Jack comes home to visit his parents, he is warmly greeted by his mother, but is given the cold-shoulder by his father, who feels that Jack is a traitor to his heritage by singing jazz music. On the eve of his biggest show business triumph, Jack receives word that his father is dying. Out of respect, Jack foregoes his opening night to attend Atonement services at the temple and sings the Kol Nidre in his father's place.
      • 1983 - Zelig (79 minutes) Director: Woody Allen - United States - Summary: This spoof of documentary films stars Woody Allen as Leonard Zelig, the famous "Chameleon Man" of the 1920's, whose personality was so vague he would assume the characteristics of whomever he came into contact with. Filmed in black-and-white, the movie simulates the look of a newsreel, complete with stentorian narration.
      • 1932 - Uncle Moses (87 minutes - Access: VHS or NCJF) Director: Aubrey Scotto and Sidney Goldin - United States - Summary: A dispot rules his Lower East Side sweatshop with a tight grip. Although Uncle Moses comes from the same Polish town, that does not stop him from cruelly exploiting them. The story becomes all the more complicated, when the tyrant falls in love with the daughter of one of his discontented workers. This powerful story focuses on such important issues of the day as working conditions, labor-employer relations and the plight of the immigrant.
      • 1990 - Avalon (128 minutes) Director: Barry Levinson - United States - Summary: The story of several generations of a family, from the arrival of immigrant Sam Krichinsky in the suburb of Baltimore called Avalon, down through his children and grandchildren. The family goes from poverty to prosperity and the world changes around them, but their love and humor hold the family together.
      • 1968 - Funny Girl (155 minutes) Director: William Wyler - United States - Summary: Romanticized movie of legendary comedienne Fanny Brice's (1891-1951) life until the mid-1920s.
      • 1984 - Once Upon a Time in America (229 minutes) Director: Sergio Leone - Italy, United States - Summary: An epic tale of the lives of two New York gangsters from the period of the early 1900's through prohibition, and climaxing in their subsequent reunion in the 1960's. Friends from childhood, they entered a life of crime together that inevitably led to tragedy and death.
      • 1931 - Street Scene (79 minutes) Director: King Vidor - United States - Summary: Lives of New York City residents are explored when a young girl's life is torn apart as her father returns home unexpectedly to find her mother with another man in this version of Elmer Rice's prize winning play.
      1880-1923 - Zionism and Communism

      • 1991 - The Wordmaker (Access: NCJF) Director: Eli Cohen - Israel - Summary: Compressed biography of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the father of modern Hebrew.
      • 1961 - They Were Ten (Access: EM) Director: Baruch Dinar - Israel - Summary: Struggle from Zionism to statehood.
      • 1932 - The Return of Nathan Becker (Access: NCJF) Director: Boris Shpis and Rokhl Milman - Soviet Union - Summary: Nathan Becker returns to Belorussian homeland after struggling in America for 28 years.
      • 1989 - Berlin-Jerusalem (85 minutes) Director: Amos Gitai - Fraance, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, United Kingdom - Summary: This moving drama of the birth of Israel focuses on two women - Else Lasker-Schuler, a German poet, and Tania Shohat, a Russian revolutionary. They meet first in Berlin, where utopian ideals and fear of the Nazis force their escape to Palestine. Re-united in Jerusalem, they confront a harsh reality in the city idealized in their dreams.
      • 2002 - Almost Peaceful (94 minutes) Director: Michel Deville - France - Summary: At the conclusion of the occupation after the end of the second world war, a Jewish tailor and his wife open a shop in Paris and along with his employees, mostly Jews, attempt to begin a new life despite often hostile treatment from Parisians.
      • 1981 - The Boat Is Full (Das Boot ist voll) - (101 minutes) Director: Marcus Imhoof - Austria, Germany, Switzerland - Summary: A group of refugees fleeing Nazi Germany are taken in by a Swiss innkeeper who is forced to make a difficult decision.
      • 1972 - Cabaret (124 minutes) Director: Bob Fosse - United States - Summary: An egocentric American girl dreams of becoming a star while working in a third-rate Berlin cabaret.
      • 2007 - The Counterfeiters - (99 minutes) Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky - Austria, Germany - Summary: Germany, 1936. Salomon "Sally" Sorowitsch is the king of counterfeiters. He lives a life of cards, booze, and women. Suddenly his luck runs dry when he is arrested by Superintendent Friedrich Herzog. He is immediately thrown into the Mauthausen concentration camp. There, Salomon exhibits exceptional skills and is soon transferred to the upgraded camp of Sachsenhausen. Upon his arrival, he once again comes face to face with Herzog, who is there on a secret mission. Hand-picked for his unique skill, Salomon and a group of professionals are forced to produce fake foreign currency under the program Operation Berhard. The team, which also includes detainee Adolf Burger, is given luxury barracks for their assistance. Salomon attempts to weaken the economy of Germany's opponents. But, Adolf refuses to use his skills for Nazi profit and would like to do something to stop the operation. Now faced with a moral dilemma, Salomon must decide whether his actions are ultimately the right ones.
      • 2007 - Defiance (136 minutes) Director: Edward Zwick - United States - Summary: The deep forests of Poland and Belorussia are the domain of the occuping Germans during World War II. The three Bielski brothers go into the forests and find the impossible task of foraging for food, weapons and survival, not just for themselves but for a large mass of fleeing Polish Jews from the German war machine. The brothers, living with the fear of discovery must contend with neighboring Soviet partisans and deciding whom to trust. They take on the responsibility of guardians and motivate hundreds of women, men, children and the elderly to join their fight against the Nazi regime while hiding in makeshift homes in the dark, cold and unforgiving forest. At the same time, the brothers turn a band of war defectors into commanding freedom fighters. Based on true events.
      • 1959 - The Diary of Anne Frank (180 minutes) Director: George Stevens - Summary: Teenaged Anne Frank, a Dutch Jew, perished along with most of her family in a concentration camp, but her hopes, dreams, and optimistic outlook has endured through the publication of her diary in 1952. Her diary conveys the precariousness of the Frank family and that of their fellow exiles, the Van Daan family and fussy dentist Mr. Dussel. They spent their time hiding from the Gestapo in a tiny Amsterdam attic.
      • 1949 - The Distant Journey (98 minutes) Director: Alfred Radok - Czechoslovakia - Summary: One of the first theatrical films about the Holocaust, banned for decades in the Czech Republic and then rediscovered, follows the struggles of Dr. Hannah Kaufman and her family from the time of the Nazi Occupation of Prague through her experiences in the transit camp of Theresienstadt (modern Terezin).
      • 2000 - Divided We Fall (122 minutes) Director: Jan Hrebejk - Czech Republic - Summary: During World War II and the Nazi occupation of Czechoslavakia, a couple, Josef and Marie, decide to hide a young Jewish neighbor in their small apartment. They keep getting a visit from their neighbor, Horst, who is a German sympathizer and has his eye on Marie. When she rejects his advances he seeks revenge by trying to move a Nazi clerk into their home, forcing the couple to tell a lie that will change their lives forever.
      • 1990 - Europa, Europa (114 minutes) Director: Agnieszka Hollan - France, Germany, Poland - Summary: The true story of a Jewish teenager who survived World War II by living as a Nazi for 7 years.
      • 2001 - The Grey Zone (108 minutes) Director: Tim Blake Nelson - United States - Summary: Based on real-life events. Chronicles a unit of Auschwitz's Sonderkommandos, a special squad of Jewish prisoners, who staged the only armed revolt that would ever take place at Auschwitz.
      • 1948 - Last Stage (105 minutes) Director: Wanda Jakubowska - Poland - Summary: "Martha Weiss, a Jew, is sent to Auschwitz concentration camp with her family. On the first day of their arrival Martha is, by a coincidence, chosen as an interpreter, but her entire family is killed. The horrible lives of female inmates of Auschwitz are chronicled in this accurate recreation of actual events. Based on the actual experiences of film director, Wanda Jakubowska, as a prisoner of a German concentration camp." -- Container.
      • 1995 - My Mother's Courage (89 minutes) Director: Michael Verhoeven - Austria, Germany, United Kingdom - Summary: Elsa is an outgoing woman who tackles her daily tasks cheerfully. Even when she is arrested for deportation, her unquestioning cooperation and inability to consider a nomstrously horrific reality demonstrate how millions of people were manipulated to their doom. Equally obedient, the German officers have their orders to follow. The true account of the deportation of over 4,000 Jews to Auschwitz in July of 1944, and how one mother's simple act of quiet defiance evaded deportation to Auschwitz - and certain death.
      • 2003 - Out of the Ashes (110 minutes) Director: Joseph Sargent - United States - Summary: Perl spent WWII in charge of the woman's infirmary at Auschwitz. Hoping to leave her nightmares behind her after the liberation, she applies for American citizenship in 1946. However, she is hauled into military court to explain how much she "collaborated" with the Nazis during the war. The U.S. officials are especially disturbed by the number of illegal abortions Perl performed at the camp. Perl struggles to explain how she terminated the lives of the unborn to save thousands of pregnant women from the gas chambers.
      • 1991 - The Quarrel (90 minutes) Director: Eli Cohen - Canada - Summary: Two former friends bump into each other in 1948 in Montreal. Both spent time in different camps and developed different views of life. Their conversation then turns to a debate about which they never agree about religion, politics and morality, but do make peace about their personal issues.
      • 2010 - Sarah's Key (111 minutes) Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner - France - Summary: In modern-day Paris, a journalist finds her life becoming entwined with a young girl whose family was torn apart during the notorious Vel d'Hiv round up, which took place in Paris, in 1942. She stumbles upon a family secret which will link her forever to the destiny of a young Jewish girl, Sarah.
      • 2008 - A Secret (Un Secret) (110 minutes) Director: Claude Miller - France - Summary: A young boy who has a vivid imagination dreams up a brother for himself and a better past for his family. On his 15th birthday he finds his dreams shattered when he uncovers a shocking secret that ties his family to the Holocaust.
      • 1976 - Voyage of the Damned: The True Story of Survival (155 minutes) Director: Stuart Rosenberg - United Kingdom - Summary: Departing Hamburg in high spirits, 937 Jewish Germans have been offered safe haven in Havana, Cuba, in 1939. The passengers are looking forward to their new life. However, the whole voyage is actually a Nazi propaganda scheme and the passengers are never really intended to be allowed ashore once they reach their destination. After weeks of unsuccessful pleas they are forced to return back to Europe. Based on the tragic 1939 voyage of the SS St. Louis.
      • 1999 - Voyages (115 minutes) Voyages Director: Emmanuel Finkiel - Belgium, France, Poland - Summary: From Poland to Paris to Tel Aviv, an intimate and personal story of the quests of three contemporary Jewish women whose lives and intertwining destinies create a moving and poignant story of survival.
      • 2008 - The Wedding Song Director: Karin Albou - France, Tunisia - Summary: Two young women living in Tunis in 1942, one a Muslim and one Jew preparing for their weddings and each facing German authority interferences realize they need each other's support.
      The Holocaust and Its Repercussions

      • 1997 - The Harmonists (115 minutes) Director: Joseph Vilsmaier - Austria and Germany - Summary: Harry and his friends form "The Harmonists", a singing group in pre-war Germany. Changes in the nation's political tide force them to make decisions that will test their loyalty. When three of the six are disclosed as Jews, the group faces banning.
      • 1970 - The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (90 minutes - VHS) Director: Vittorio DeSica - Italy and West Germany - Summary: The drama is set in Italy in 1938, when Mussolini's anti-Semetic edicts began to isolate the Jews from their communities. Among them were the Finzi-Continis, an aristocratic Jewish family forced for the first time to acknowledge the world beyond its fenced garden.
      • 1965 - The Shop on Main Street (125 minutes) Director: Jan Kadar and Elmar Klos - Czechoslovakia - Summary: In 1942, Tono and his wife are struggling because of his antipathy towards the fascist regime. His brother-in-law, the local fuehrer, chooses Tono to oversee a button shop owned by a sweet, harmless Jewish widow, Mrs. Lautman. Unable to explain his position to Mrs. Lautman, Tono gradually accepts her belief that he is her assistant. When the Jews are ordered deported, the well-meaning Tono decides to shield her from the Nazis.
      • 1987 - Goodbye Children (Au revoir les enfants) (101 minutes) Director: Louis Malle - France and West Germany - Summary: Gaspard Manesse plays Julien, an 11-year-old Catholic boarding-school resident during the Nazi occupation of France. He is witness to the courage of his instructors, who defy the German's anti-Semitic policies and quietly enroll Jewish children into the school under assumed names. Manesse befriends Jean (Raphael Fejto), one of these "instant Catholics." The refugee children are betrayed by a hostile ex-employee of the school, forcing Julien once more to be a bystander to history as Jean and the teachers are arrested.
      • 1993 - Schindler's List (196 minutes) Director: Steven Spielberg - United States - Summary: The story of a Catholic war profiteer, Oskar Schindler, who risked his life and went bankrupt in order to save more than 1,000 Jews from certain death in concentration camps. He employed Jews in his crockery factory manufacturing goods for the German army. At the same time he tries to stay solvent with the help of a Jewish accountant and negotiates business with a vicious Nazi commandant who enjoys shooting Jews as target practice from the balcony of his villa that overlooks the prison camp he commands.
      • 2002 - The Pianist (149 minutes) Director: Roman Polanski - France, Germany, Poland, Poland, United Kingdom, United States - Summary: Based on the memoirs of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew, who was a brilliant pianist. He watched as his family was shipped off to Nazi labor camps. He managed to escape and lived for years in the ruins of Warsaw, hiding from the Nazis.
      • 2005 - Fateless (Sorstalansag) (140 minutes) Director: Lajos Koltai - Germany, Hungary, United Kingdom - Summary: A teenage Jewish boy from Budapest finds himself in turmoil as Hitler's Final Solution becomes policy throughout Europe. Taken from his family and sent to a concentration camp, his existence becomes a surreal adventure in adversity in order to survive.
      • 1997 - The Truce (118 minutes) Director: Francesco Rosi - France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland - Summary: Primo Levi embarks on a thousand-mile journey back home to Italy after WW II ends. Along the way, he faces great odds but rediscovers the simply joys of life that the war threatened to destroy forever.
      • 1948 - Our Children(Unzere Kinder) (NCJF) Director: Natan Gross - Poland - Summary: Acknowledge the devastation of the Holocaust and ponder the future.
      • 1965 - The Pawnbroker (111 minutes) Director: Sidney Lumet - United States - Summary: Sol Nazerman, a Jewish pawnbroker who survived imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp, even though his wife and family did not. The devastating experience and unrelenting memories inhibit Sol from emotional involvement with life. He has no faith in religion and less in mankind. Though he carries on an affair with a woman who was also a victim of the Nazi camps, it is without emotion and Sol grows increasingly bitter and callous, withdrawing still further from the world around him. As his small shop in Harlem is run with little care or attention, it becomes a convenient cover for a local racketeer. Finally, a caring social worker tries to appeal to his humanity, but Sol's emotional wounds may prove to be too great to overcome.
      • 1989 - Enemies, A Love Story (120 minutes) Director: Paul Mazursky - United States - Summary: Set in 1949 New York, a Holocaust survivor, who makes a living as a ghostwriter for a Jewish rabbi, finds himself involved with three women - his current wife, a passionate affair with a married woman, and his long-vanished wife whom he thought was killed during the war and suddenly reappears. The film concentrates on the views of the Jewish survivors, who no longer abide by religious morales and question a God who could let the Holocaust occur.
      1947-1967, Israel's Heroic Years

      • 1955 - Hill 24 Doesn't Answer (Giv'a 24 Eina Ona) Director: Thorold Dickinson - Israel
      • 2002 - Kedma (100 minutes) Director: Amos Gitai - France, Italy, Israel - Summary: 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. Rescued from a British Army ambush at beachside by Palmach Jewish guerillas, the refugees are remade into soldiers expected to offer their lives to defend a nation that does not yet exist in a land they have never known.
      • 1960 - Exodus (208 minutes) Director: Otto Preminger - United States - Summary: The story of the birth of Israel as an independent state, based on the novel by Leon Uris.
      • 1989 - Braids (Tzamot) (NCJF) Director: Yitzhak Halutzi - Israel - Summary: Based on the story of Herzliya Lokai (Regina Sameh), a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl who joined the Zionist underground movement in 1947, in her norther Iraqi hometown of Arbil.
      • 1964 - Sallah (Sallah Shabati) (110 minutes) Director: Ephraim Kishon - Israel - Summary: A satirical comedy showing the problems an immigrant family from North Africa encounters in adjusting to life in Israel.
      • 1974 - Kazablan (123 minutes) Director: Menahem Golan - Israel - Summary: A musical film set in Jaffa in the 1960s. Kazablan is a Morrocan-born Israeli army veteran who has become the leader of Jaffa's most feared street gang. He is in love with Rachel, the daughter of Polish parents who forbid her to associate with him. Yanosh, the owner of the shoe store, is also in love with Rachel. When the residents pool their money in an attempt to save their neighborhood from being bulldozed by the city, the money is stolen, and Yanosh frames Kazablan for the crime.
      • 1966 - Cast a Giant Shadow (138 minutes) Director: Melville Shavelson - United States - Summary: Part fact, part fiction, Cast a Giant Shadow powerfully dramatizes Israel's heroic 1947-48 struggle for independence. Both realistic war story and passionate romance, the film centers on the legendary David "Mickey" Marcus. Jewish-American general Marcus is called to the new state of Israel to build an army capable of withstanding its Arab foes.
      • 1989 Crossfire (Esh Tsolevet) (90 minutes) Director: Gideon Ganani - Israel - Summary: In 1948, a budding romance between a young Jewish woman from Tel Aviv (Sharon Hacohen) and an Arab man (Dan Turgeman) is threatened by the approaching war between Israelis and Palestinians. Defying the wishes of their families, the couple decides to take desperate measures to stay together. Based on a true story.
      • 1987 - The Impossible Spy (96 minutes) Director: Jim Goddard - United Kingdom, United States - Summary: Elie Cohen was a family man leading a quiet, normal life in the 1960s, when he was recruited by Israel's secret service and assigned a mission that would forever change his life and the history of Israel. Today he is regarded as a legend and hero.
      • 2000 - Kippur (123 minutes) Director: Amos Gitai - France, Israel - Summary: Film takes place in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War in which Egypt and Syria launched attacks in Sinai and the Golan Heights. We are led on a day that begins with quiet city streets , but ends with death, destruction and devastation of both body and mind.
      • 2007 - The Little Traitor (86 minutes) Lynn Roth - Israel, United States - Summary: Proffy, a twelve-year-old living in Palestine in 1947 becomes friendly with a member of the occupying British forces who shares his love of language and the Bible. He is accused of treason by his friends and learns the true nature of loyalty and betrayal.
      • 1982 - Noa at 17 (No'ah bat 17) (86 minutes) Director: Yitzhak Yeshurun - Israel - Summary: Projects the tension of Israeli society in the 1950s unfolding against the background of ideological changes of the era. Noa, the daughter of a family caught up in this process, is an individualist who challenges the collective ethos of her comrades.
      • 2006 - O, Jerusalem (100 minutes) Director: Elie Chouraqui - France, Israel, Italy, United Kingdom, United States - Summary: A Jewish American and his best friend, an Arab Muslim, find themselves fighting on opposite sides of the historic battle for Jerusalem. From the streets of New York City to the Holy Land, they both must risk their lives and friendship as they make sacrifices along the way to fight for what they believe in.
      • 1970 - Siege (95 minutes) Director: Gilberto Tofano - Israel - Summary: An Israeli woman loses her husband during the Six Day War. Her husband's friends want her to remain an ever-mourning widow, but she wants to break away from her past and normalize her life. It is the story of the journey she takes in a country of people under siege.
      • 1988 - The Summer of Aviya (Ha-Kayits shel Aviha) (95 minutes) Director: Eli Cohen - Israel - Summary: Presents Gila Almagor's autobiographical film, based on her book, about a Holocaust survivor who immigrates with her daughter to the newly founded Israeli state. Aviya is a spunky 10 old year girl who, like her mother, is a survivor in the face of persecution.
      • 1994 - Under the Domim Tree (102 minutes) Director: Eli Cohen - Israel - Summary: Autobiographical story that chronicles the joys and troubles experienced by a group of teenagers, mostly Holocaust survivors, living at an Israeli youth settlement in 1953. A moving story about three girls coming of age in post-Holocaust Israel. Like most of the children in Udim, a youth village nestled along Israel's coastal plain, Aviya, Yola, and Mira share a common sorrow--the pain of longing for lost loved ones. Through their struggles, the girls find friendship and the comfort of knowing they're not alone. The sequel to "Aviya's summer."
      • 1982 - A Woman Called Golda (199 minutes) Director: Alan Gibson - United States - Summary: Golda Meir grew up on the streets of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She harbored an incredible dream: she wanted to help the Jewish people build a new home. Her arduous journey led to a dusty kibbutz in Palestine and the struggle to establish the nation of Israel. Through hardship, war, and countless sacrifices, Golda survived it all and became Israel's first female prime minister.
      1945-1977, Acceptance in Postwar America

      • 1981 - The Chosen (105 minutes) Director: Jeremy Kagan - United States - Summary: Two teenagers at the time of the Normandy invasion in 1944 are friends but they are divided by the same thing that unites them--their faith. Though both are devout Jews, there's a subtle difference. Danny is an Hasidic Jew, brought up to accept faith blindly by his father--an ultra-orthodox rabbi who rejects the 20th century for the special joys of centuries--old tradition. Reuven, on the other hand, has been brought up by his father who is a secular scholar, to question everything around him.
      • 1947 - Gentleman's Agreement (118 minutes) Director: Elia Kazan - United States - Summary: A journalist assigned to write a series of articles on anti-semitism decides to pose as a Jew and finds out first-hand what it is like to be the victim of intolerance.
      • 1947 - Crossfire (85 minutes) Director: Edward Dmytryk - United States - Summary: A police captain (Young) methodically unravels the truth behind the brutal murder of an innocent Jewish man by a World War II soldier (Ryan) with a rabid hatred of Jews.
      • 1989 - Driving Miss Daisy (99 minutes) Director: Bruce Beresford - United States - Summary: A joyous comedy about a head-strong southern lady and her ever-patient chauffeur.
      • 1958 - Marjorie Morningstar (128 minutes) Director: Irving Rapper - United States - Summary: A naive young actress falls in love with an older, more-worldly theatrical producer.
      • 1969 - Goodbye, Columbus (101 minutes) Director: Larry Peerce - United States - Summary: A poor Bronx librarian and a pampered Jewish princess cross class lines when they fall in love, despite stiff opposition from her parents. Based on the novella by Philip Roth.
      • 1977 - Annie Hall (93 minutes) Director: Woody Allen - United States - Summary: Woody Allen's semiautobiographical portrait of his amorous, but ultimately mismatched, relationship with co-star Diane Keaton. Allen uses satire and comedy to portray this "nervous romance" for modern times.
      • 1988 - Biloxi Blues (105 minutes) Director: Mike Nichols - United States Summary: Neil Simon's semi-autobiographical story of being drafted and sent to boot camp in Biloxi, Mississippi in the waning days of World War II.
      • 1947 - Body and Soul (104 minutes) Director: Robert Rossen - United States Summary: Charley has become the middleweight champion of the world by winning a "fixed" fight. In his devious climb to the top, Charley has become hard and arrogant, and has estranged both his mother and the girl he loves.
      • 1992 - Citizen Cohn (112 minutes) Director: Frank Pierson - United States Summary: Ruthless, destructive, power hungry and insatiable, attorney Roy Cohn could make or break the strongest men in America just for the thrill of the kill.
      • 1947 - Crossfire (85 minutes) Director: Edward Dmytryk - United States Summary: A police captain methodically unravels the truth behind the brutal murder of an innocent Jewish man by a World War II soldier with a rabid hatred of Jews.
      • 1983 - Daniel (130 minutes ) Director: Sidney Lumet - United States Summary: After his parents work with the Communist Party and execution for selling secrets to the Soviets, a young man involves himself in the protests of the 60's, and lives with his belief that his parents were wrongly murdered.
      • 1976 - The Front (95 minutes) Director: Martin Ritt - United States Summary: A cashier poses as a writer for blacklisted talents to submit their work through, but the injustice around him pushes him to take a stand.
      • 1972 - The Heartbreak Kid (105 minutes: Director: Elaine May - United States Summary: On his honeymoon in Florida, Lenny falls head over heels in love with a college student vacationing with her wealthy parents.
      • 1974 - Lenny (111 minutes) Director: Bob Fosse - United States Summary: Depicts troubled nightclub comic Lenny Bruce, his wife Honey Harlowe, and his fatal decline through drug addiction.
      • 1999 - Liberty Heights (minutes) Director: Barry Levinson - United States
      • 1976 - Next Stop, Greenwich Village (minutes) Director: Paul Mazursky - United States
      • 1994 - Quiz Show (minutes) Director: Robert Redford - United States
      • 1992 - School Ties (minutes) Director: Robert Mandel - United States
      • 1987 - Sweet Lorraine (minutes) Director: Steve Gomer - United States
      • 1995 - Unstrung Heroes (minutes) Director: Diane Keaton - United States
      • 1999 - A Walk on the Moon (minutes) Director: Tony Goldwyn - United States
      • 1973 - The Way We Were (minutes) Director: Sydney Pollack - United States
      A Diverse Diaspora

      • 1993 - Like a Bride (Novia que te Vea) (115 minutes) Director: Guita Schyfter - Mexico - Summary: In this story, set in the 1960s, the daughter of Ladino-speaking immigrants from Turkey is attempting to cope with their very conservative attitudes towards young women, and her own desires for her life. They believe that the only career for a girl is marriage, whereas she wants to be an artist, and doesn't care about being a bride. A compromise is briefly achieved when she announces her engagement to a Jewish boy who is a doctor, but the conflict resumes when she calls it off. Meanwhile, she has a friend who is the daughter of Eastern European Jews: her life is much freer, but she, too, is able to shock her parents. In her case, the shock is that she has become romantically involved with a gentile boy who is active in liberal political circles.
      • 1974 - The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (106 minutes) Director: Ted Kotcheff - Canada - Summary: Duddy Kravitz is an irresistible young Jewish man. He is driven by an insatiable desire to be a 'somebody.' He cheats, schemes and connives to buy a large parcel of land. He uses the girl who loves him, he forges cheques and he lies. He is enormously proud of all the shortcuts he has taken. In this race to succeed, Duddy realizes that there are many hard lessons to learn.
      • 1999 - Sunshine (180 minutes) Director: Istvan Szabo - Austria, Canada, Germany, Hungary - Summary: A compelling epic about generations of a Hungarian Jewish family caught up in the upheavals and false hopes of a war-swept 20th century.
      • 2003 - Lost Embrace (El abrazo partido) (96 minutes) Director: Daniel Burman - Argentina, France, Italy, Spain. - Summary: Ariel is a young man who lives in a Jewish working-class section of Buenos Aires. Since his father went missing in the war, his mother Sonia and brother Joseph work in the shopping and business district. With no interest in school or work, Ariel just ends up hangin out. He finally gets motivated by the idea of moving to Poland, so asks his grandmother, an ex-girlfriend, and Rabbi Benderson for help.
      • 2005 - Little Jerusalem (La Petite Jerusalem) (94 minutes) Director: Karin Albou - France - Summary: In a Paris suburb nicknamed Little Jerusalem, a family of Sephardic Orthodox immigrants shares a low-income apartment. Beautiful, teenaged Laura distances herself from her family's religion and her own burgeoning desire by devoting every waking moment to intellectual discipline and secular philosophy. Mathilde, Laura's married older sister, worries that strict observance of the Torah's marital codes has driven her husband Ariel into the bed of another. When Laura falls under the spell of Djamel, a handsome Muslim journalist, and Mathilde discovers that her worst fears are true, the two very different sisters find themselves in very similar crises.
      • 1996 - Autumn Sun ( minutes) Director: Eduardo Mignogna - Argentina Summary:
      • 2010 - Barney's Version (minutes) Director: Richard J. Lewis - Canada and Italy Summary:
      • 2009 - The Concert (minutes) Director: Radu Mihaileanu - Belgium, France, Italy, Romania, Russia Summary:
      • 2005 - Everything is Illuminated (minutes) Director: Liev Schreiber - United States - Summary:
      • 2007 - Father's Footsteps (minutes) Director: Marco Carmel - France and Israel - Summary:
      • 2007 - Fugitive Pieces (minutes) Director: Jeremy Podeswa - Canada and Greece - Summary:
      • 2002 - Geburtig (minutes) Director: Robert Schindel and Lukas Stepanik - Austria, Germany, Poland - Summary:
      • 2000 - Glamour (minutes) Director: Frigyes Godros - Hungary - Summary:
      • 2010 - The Infidel (105 minutes) Director: Josh Appignanesi - United Kingdom - Summary: Meet Mahmud Nasir, loving husband, doting father, and something of a relaxed Muslim. He may not be the most observant, but in his heart he is a true Muslim. After his mother's death, Mahmud finds his birth certificate, which reveals that he was adopted at birth and he's Jewish, with the real name of Solly Shimshillewitz!
      • 1998 - Left Luggage (96 minutes) Director: Jeroen Krabbe - Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, United States - Summary: A young jewish philosophy student, with little knowledge of the many strict rules of the Hassidic way of life, becomes the nanny for a family that she learns to respect. Her parents are both concentration camp survivors and her father is obsessed with finding the two pieces of luggage he buried in Antwerp at the start of World War II.
      • 2007 - My Mexican Shiva (98 minutes) Director: Alejandro Springall - Mexico, United States
      • 2010 - Nora's Will (92 minutes) Director: Mariana Chenillo - Mexico - Summary: When Nora dies before Passover, her ex-husband Jose is forced to stay with her body until she can be put to rest. Jose soon realizes that he is apart of Nora's plan to bring the family back together for one last Passover feast. Jose reexamines their relationship and their love for each other.
      • 2008 - One Day You'll Understand (90 minutes) Director: Amos Gitai - France, Germany, Israel - Summary: After discovering a distressing 'Aryan declaration' in old family documents, a businessman is obsessed with uncovering the secrets of his family's past and goes back to the tiny village where his mother's parents were forced to live in a concentration camp during the Holocaust.
      • 1996 - Shine (105 minutes) Director: Scott Hicks - Australia - Summary: Presents the true story of Australian pianist David Helfgott. He experiences a nervous breakdown and is hospitalized, but later returns to the concert hall.
      • 2006 - Sixty Six Director: Paul Weiland - France, United Kingdom - Summary: It is the summer of '66, and England is about to be consumed by World Cup fever. For 12 year-old Bernie though, the biggest day of his life is looming: his Bar Mitzvah, and the day he becomes a man. Bernie's family are increasingly distracted by the threat of losing their business and their wayward older son, and the scale of Bernie's Bar Mitzvah diminishes daily.
      • 1999 - Voyages (115 minutes) Director: Emmanuel Finkiel - Belgium, France, Poland - Summary: From Poland to Paris to Tel Aviv, an intimate and personal story of the quests of three contemporary Jewish women whose lives and intertwining destinies create a moving and poignant story of survival.
      • 1988 - A World Apart (113 minutes) Director: Chris Menges - United Kingdom, Zimbabwe - Summary: Set in South Africa in 1963, the story concerns an idealistic journalist Diana Roth who defies the government and becomes the first woman arrested under the 90-day Detention Act-- both a story of government abuse and a look at one mother's neglect of her family because of her involvement with a larger cause. Based on a true story.
      Contemporary Israeli Experiences

      • 2005 - Munich (164 minutes) Director: Steven Spielberg - Canada, France, United States - Summary: It's the 1972 Olympics and PLO terrorists have just kidnapped and murdered 11 Israeli athletes. After the tragic incident is over and several of the terrorists have gone free, the Israeli government of Golda Meir recruits Avner to lead a team of undercover agents to hunt down those responsible throughout Europe, and eliminate them one-by-one. It is physically and emotionally messy work, and conflicts between Avner and his team's handler, Ephraim, over information Avner doesn't want to provide only make things harder. Soon the work starts to take its toll on Avner, especially as it becomes clear that Avner is being hunted in return, and that his family's safety may be in jeopardy.
      • 2008 - Waltz with Bashir (Vals Im Bashir) (87 minutes) Director: Ari Folman - Israel, France, Germany - Summary: After not being able to recall the time he spent on an Israeli Army mission during the Lebanon War, Ari attempts to unravel the mystery by traveling around the world to interview old friends and comrades. As the pieces of the puzzle begin to come together, his memory begins to return in illustrations that are surreal.
      • 2005 - Live and Become (Va, vis et deviens) (140 minutes) Director: Radu Mihaileanu - Belgium, France, Israel, Italy - Summary: A young boy who isn't an orphan is transported away from his home during Operation Moses at a Sudanese refugee camp, in order to honor his mother's wishes of finding a better and safer life.
      • 2004 - Kadosh (117 minutes) Director: Amos Gitai - France, Israel - Summary: 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.
      • 2004 - Ushpizin (Ha-Ushpizin) (90 minutes) Director: Gidi Dar - Israel - Summary: A heartwarming and light hearted look at the daily lives of ultra-Orthodox Jews learning, living and loving in modern-day Israel. The story of a family facing hardships who must rely on their faith for miracles to happen during the holiday season.
      • 2000 - Time of Favor (101 minutes) Director: Joseph Cedar - Israel - Summary: A taut thriller about the tense relationship between the orthodox nationalists and the military. Both a politico-psychological drama and a love story between a passionate woman and two best friends, Time Of Favor raises important questions of faith to one's religion, duty to one's nation, and love for oneself.
      • 2007 - Beaufort (126 minutes) Director: Joseph Cedar - Israel - Summary: A young group of Israeli soldiers must try to survive before they are pulled out of Lebanon, and protect a fortress that is sacred to both Israelis and Arabs alike.
      • 2004 - Campfire (96 minutes) Director: Joseph Cedar - Israel - Summary: A 42 year-old widowed mother of two teenage daughters wants to join the founding group of a new settlement in the West bank. This is about their struggles with the acceptance committee and their living as an outcast in the settlement.
      • 2005 - Close to Home (Karov la-bayit) (99 minutes) Director: Vidu Bilu and Dalia Hagar Summary: Two female soldiers, one rebellious and one controlled, find friendship with one another while patrolling the streets of Jerusalem.
      • 2008 - The Lemon Tree (106 minutes) Director: Eran Riklis - France, Germany, Israel) - Summary: A drama based on the true story of a Palestinian widow who must defend her lemon tree field when a new Israeli Defense Minister moves next to her and threatens to have her lemon grove torn down.
      Contemporary American Jewish Identities

      • 1988 - Crossing Delancey (97 minutes) Director: Joan Micklin - United States - Summary: A single, independent woman is caught in a romantic quandary when her grandmother hires a Jewish matchmaker to find her a husband.
      • 1991 - Homicide (101 minutes) Director: David Mamet - United States - Summary: An inner-city detective is investigating the murder of an elderly candy shop owner and finds odd clues along the way, while at the same time trying to find out who he has become.
      • 2001 - The Believer (99 minutes) Director: Henry Bean - United States - Summary: The portrayal of a young Jewish man living as a neo-Nazi. Inspired by real events, the film tells the story of Danny Balint and his struggle between destroying his own people and being drawn back to Judaism.
      • 2000 - Keeping the Faith (129 minutes) Director: Edward Norton - United States - Summary: Two men, long-time best friends, reunite with the tomboy who was the best friend of both; but all of them have changed-- greatly.
      • 2007 - Arranged (89 minutes) Director: Stefan Schaefer and Diane Crespo - United States)
      • 2005 - Bee Season (104 minutes) Director: Scott McGehee and David Siegel - United States - Summary: Eliza demonstrates such an amazing gift for spelling any word given to her that her father Saul insists on coaching her himself. As Eliza's success continues, Saul's newfound devotion grows ... causing huge changes for the entire family.
      • 1989 - Crimes and Misdemeanors (104 minutes) Director: Woody Allen - United States Summary: Weaving together several different stories about people's lives, loves, perceptions, and ideals, this examines some of the toughest questions surrounding human nature.
      • 2002 - David and Layla (106 minutes) Director: Jay Jonroy - United States - Summary: Can a modern-day Romeo and Juliet follow their hearts and blast through centuries of religious animosity, or will their cultural differences and their headstrong families keep them apart forever?

Resource tools: Baron, Lawrence, editor. The Modern Jewish Experience in World Cinema. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2011. (442 ps.)

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