Montreal World Film Festival screens Yiddish: A Tale of Survival

You don’t have to be Jewish to love Yiddish.

After a successful launch of “Yiddish: a tale of survival” at the New York City International Film Festival, the documentary will now be screened at the Montreal World film festival (MFF).

The resilience of Yiddish since the Holocaust which wiped out six million potential Yiddish speakers is revealed by exploring the lives and careers of three Yiddish performers. The first, Shmuel Atzmon, an Israeli actor who at the age of fifty, after a lifetime spent in the Hebrew Theatre in Israel, founded the Yiddishpiel  Repertory Theater in Tel Aviv. The second, Bryna Wasserman, heir to the legacy of her mother, Dora Wasserman who championed Yiddish Theatre in Montreal, has continued her mother’s legacy and shepherded it into the twenty-first century, by commissioning new Yiddish plays, and also initiating the International Yiddish Theatre Festival in Montreal. And lastly, we meet singer and actress Milena Kartowski, who at the young age of 23 has discovered Yiddish and is helping to bring it to a new generation.

The film explores the paths that brought each artist to Yiddish and how it has shaped their lives. In the words of one reviewer, “The film is deeply moving and surprisingly entertaining. Watching it, one hears the sounds of the almost forgotten language of Yiddish from the echoes of Sholem Aleichem to the young people’s YaYa group performance, Raisins and Almonds. We are reminded of the legacy Montreal’s Jewish community and of Yiddish culture worldwide.”

This subject is particularly poignant in Quebec where awareness of the vulnerability of culture and language is so strong.

The film will be screened twice at the Montreal World Film Festival:

Thursday, August 29, 7:30 pm and Sunday, September 1st at 10am in the Quartier Latin Cinema: Salle 15

Tickets can be acquired from the MFWW Website

There will be a Q&A after the screening with Abigail Hirsch, the filmaker and Bryna Wasserman will be in attendance at the Sunday Morning screening.

Tonight at NYCIFF: Yiddish: A Tale of Survival

If you’re in New York City this evening the film Yiddish: a tale of Survival will be playing at the New York City International Film Festival at 8:00pm (NYIT auditorium on Broadway and 62nd St).

Here is a review of the film from Montreal blog ForgetTheBox.net.

There was once a time when the languages you heard in the streets of Montreal were English, French, and yes… Yiddish. In the early 1920s, Yiddish-speaking Jews from Europe immigrated to Montreal and were a large part of our diverse cultural landscape.

Early Jewish and Yiddish settlers opened the first Bagel shops, Smoked Meat dinners, and founded Yiddish theatres. In a new documentary, Abigail Hirsch looks at Yiddish theatre in Montreal, New York, and even Israel.

In Yiddish: a tale of survival, the history of Yiddish is revealed by exploring the lives and careers of three Yiddish performers. The first, Shmuel Atzmon, an Israeli actor who founded the Yiddishpiel Theater and has been acting for 50 years. Bryna Wasserman, from Montreal, is the heir to the Dora Wasserman Yiddish theatre legacy. And lastly, we meet singer and actress Milena Kartowski, who at the young age of 23 has discovered Yiddish and is helping to bring it to a new generation.

The film explores the paths that brought each artist to Yiddish and how it has shaped their lives. The film is deeply moving and surprisingly entertaining. Watching it, one hears the sounds of the almost forgotten language of Yiddish from the echoes of Sholem Aleichem to the young people’s YaYa group performance, Raisins and Almonds. We are reminded of the legacy Montreal’s Jewish community and Yiddish culture worldwide.

World Premiere “Yiddish: A tale of survival”

World Premiere of documentary film “Yiddish: A tale of survival”

 

We are excited to announce that “Yiddish: A tale of survival” has been selected for a gala world premiere by the New York City International Film Festival (NYCIFF).  “Yiddish: A tale of survival” will be showcased at the festival’s Israel Film Day Event gala at 8pm. Press screening at 5:30, party followed by screening at 8pm, followed by Q and A and an after party.

Shot in Israel, Canada and the United States, “Yiddish: A tale of survival” tells the story of Yiddish since the Holocaust via the personal histories and performance clips of Shmuel Atzmon of Tel Aviv, who started Israel’s first Yiddish Repertory theatre; Bryna Wasserman, heir to the Dora wasserman Yiddish theatre legacy and the initiator of first ever International Yiddish Theatre Festival in Montreal, and Milena Kartowsky of Paris, a youthful performer and activist for Yiddish culture.

Yiddish: A tale of survival” documents  the grassroots nurturing and rebirth of Yiddish in the face of severe challenges both in Israel and all over the world. via the personal histories of three amazing individuals:  BrynaWasserman, Shmuel Atzmon and Milena Kartovsky.

Before the second world war, Yiddish was the vernacular of over 11 million Jewish people worldwide. Today, there are fewer than 2 million Yiddish speakers. In addition, post Holocaust, the language of Jewish communities all over the world, including Israel, became Hebrew, in order to foster a new Jewish identity. Few worried about the survival of Yiddish, which had been the language of Jewish people in Europe for centuries, and which carried the history and culture of Jews over the preceding 1000 years.

Yiddish: A tale of survival” documents  the grassroots nurturing and rebirth of Yiddish in the face of severe challenges both in Israel and all over the world and demonstrates how art can be both revolutionary and political.

For information, contact Abigail Hirsch at 917-647-5540 or E-mail: askabigail@me.com

Yiddish: A Tale of Survival

As some of you know, I have been working on a documentary about the survival of Yiddish theatre since the Holocaust. The film focuses on three generations of Yiddish performers and examines the state of Yiddish in the 21st century.

Yiddish was the main spoken and literary language of Northern European Jews from France to Russia for several hundred years. During the Holocaust a majority of the world’s Yiddish speakers were annihilated. As a result, the Yiddish culture – language, literature, and theatre – was nearly destroyed leaving many wondering whether Yiddish had any future at all. Twenty-five years ago, Shmuel Atzmon, a holocaust survivor, started a Yiddish Repertory theatre in Israel. He took young Hebrew speaking actors and taught them the Yiddish language, its music and culture. There is now a first rate Yiddish Repertory Theatre in Tel Aviv called Yiddishspiel. Arriving in Canada in 1950 with two young daughters, Dora Wasserman, succeeded in creating a Yiddish theatre troupe made up of students and their parents, many Holocaust survivors. Her work has been carried on by her daughter Bryna Wasserman, who recently presided over the fiftieth anniversary of the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Troupe by initiating the first ever International Yiddish Theatre Festival in Montreal.
Milena Kartowski, a twenty-three year old grand daughter of Holocaust survivors, and a student of dance, jazz, and opera, has recently discovered the Yiddish language and its attendant culture. She has fallen in love with Yiddish theatre and song. Milena not only understands the essence of Yiddish culture but also the importance of preserving a culture that is on the verge of extinction.

As you may know I’ve invested my heart and soul into this documentary, and it is with an open heart that I invite you to check it out.

Pelech Yiddish Class Performs Itzik Manger’s Megillah, Purim 2012

Purim Spiel Pelech 2012

While on a recent trip to Israel I had the pleasure of video recording a High-School Yiddish class performance of the Yiddish musical, Itzik Manger’s Megillah. The students at Pelech High School put their heart and soul into the production, as you can see in the short video clip below. Afterwards we also conducted interviews with some of the cast as well as teacher and parents of the students.

AskAbigail Productions has assembled the full play, along with selected interviews onto a feature length DVD. For inquiries about purchase please contact askabigail@me.com