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entries tagged with: Eric Goldman


Yiddish on my mind

If you read our Nov. 19 cover story about Dr. Henry Lew and his quest to get a Yiddish book about the annihilation of the Jews of Bialystock translated, you may remember that he was inspired by Aaron Lansky’s book “Outwitting History.”

I was inspired, in turn, to read Lansky’s book, and found it lively, poignant, informative, and — yes — inspiring. Because of his book, I am trying to revive my Workmen’s Circle Yiddish — my almost-mama loshen. (Eric Goldman of Ergo Media in Teaneck has provided me with CDs and a manual.)

Lansky is the man who created the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass. He has spent his adult life on the worthy cause of rescuing Yiddish books — and the related causes of rescuing Yiddish literature and the very language itself.

The stories he tells are funny, touching, and sad — sometimes all at once.

And he notes many Bergen County connections, people who have supported (sometimes literally, by hauling books, for example) the effort: Jeremy Dauber, who was a Jewish Standard intern many years ago and is an associate professor and director of Yiddish studies at Columbia; Rabbi Aryeh Gotlieb, now rabbi emeritus of the Jewish Community Center of Paramus; Sharon Kleinbaum, now the rabbi of Cong. Beth Simcha Torah in New York City; and Maggie and Bill Kaplen, whose generosity has buoyed many local institutions, including the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades.

At any rate, a highly recommended book — I am sure you will enjoy it, and will catch Lansky’s fervor and sense of fun.



‘See, enjoy, and be educated’ at the Israel Film Festival

From top, scenes from “Gei Oni,” “Brothers,” “Precious Life,” “Strangers No More,” “Revolution 101,” and “Avanti Popolo.”

As we celebrate Israel’s 63rd birthday, we marvel at the creation of a Jewish state in our lifetime and how its very existence has affected our lives as Jews here in America. The great Zionist philosophers of a century ago imagined a state that could affect Jewish life around the world, as it clearly has in such areas as religion and culture. Yet, while Israeli music and culture dominated American Jewish life for decades, Israeli cinema here was relegated to replays of such comedies as Ephraim Kishon’s “Sallah” and “The Big Dig: The Blaumilch Canal.” Serious students of cinema paid little attention to the efforts of the dozen or so creative talents who used the motion picture to tell the dramatic story of a new state’s emergence. The only place it seemed that one could see an Israeli film was at a 16mm screening in the basement of your synagogue.

For years, I had to schedule trips to Israel just to be able to screen the newest Israeli films. Watching a film in Israel was always a challenge, and I would come equipped with a baseball cap to keep the garinim, the seeds, off my hair, and I never sat in an aisle seat, so that the various soda bottles that came rolling down the aisle would miss me. But that all began to change about a quarter of a century ago, as a new crop of films began to be produced. The government created funds to encourage and support Israeli moviemaking, enabling quality production. At about the same time, film schools were created, both within the universities and as separate entities, allowing young Israelis wanting to study film to pursue their education and training without leaving the country for New York, Paris, London, or Los Angeles. The quality of filmmaking soared, and many of the dozen or so veterans became teachers of the new generation.

About this time, Meir Fenigstein, the drummer in the Israeli rock band Kaveret (Poogy), was in New York, and he saw the need to bring first-run Israeli films to the United States. Few Israeli films made it to theaters, and Fenigstein saw it as his mission to allow more Israeli films to be shown here. He has since been showcasing Israeli movies, now for a 25th time, in New York City. The Israel Film Festival, which he founded, is taking place at the AMC Loews Theater on Broadway at 84th Street.

One of the pioneers in the Israeli film industry, Micha Shagrir, is being honored at this festival and several of his feature narratives and documentaries are being showcased. Shagrir is the film documentarian who followed the path of Ethiopians Jews across the deserts of Africa to Israel. He has produced numerous features, mentored countless filmmakers, and helped found the Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem. One of the more interesting programs in which he is participating will focus on 100 years of Jerusalem filmmaking. Another, “When Israel Went Out,” looks at the exodus of Ethiopian Jewry. Other feature films and documentaries by Shagrir, including the award-winning 1986 “Avanti Popolo,” are also being shown.

Of the films that drew my attention, Igaal Nidaam’s “Brothers” has two Argentinean brothers who had not seen each other for years meet when one of them, a distinguished attorney from New York, comes to Israel to defend a yeshiva before the Supreme Court. The yeshiva-educated attorney is there to defend the right of Torah students not to join the army, a position with which his non-religious kibbutznik brother takes issue. The film raises important questions as it studies the division between these two brothers on the topic of religion, seen not only though the two men but through Israeli society as a whole.

Nir Bergman’s “Intimate Grammar,” based on David Grossman’s novel, is a hard-hitting look at 1960s Israel that focuses on a child of a Holocaust survivor who needs to be different. It is an examination of the inner and outward journey of this troubled youth at a pivotal time in Israel’s history. Avi Nesher’s “The Matchmaker” tackles the same period in his story of a young man who gets a job with a survivor of the Shoah who brokers marriages but seems to have other businesses on the side. Set in 1968, this is a beautiful coming-of-age film about an Israeli youth who encounters a world beyond what he knows.

Veteran director Dan Wolman takes a sensitive look in “Gei Oni” at a group of new immigrants who escaped the terror in Russia to come to Israel over a century ago. Wolman weaves the story of hard pioneering with the history of a new land. Doron Tsabari’s “Revolution 101” is a fascinating docudrama that uses the story of his life as a successful yet struggling filmmaker to look at Israeli society as a whole and how change can or cannot happen. Tsabari, in this well-crafted film, brings us into his life as he takes on bureaucracy, ready to fight to the bitter end.

A film that challenges classic film narrative style by new director Adam Sanderson is also worth noting. Teaming up with Muli Segev, TV director of the hit series “Eretz Nehederet,” they created “This is Sodom,” a zany comedy set in the time of Abraham and Lot. The fact that the actors, known to just about every Israeli, were unknown to me did not interfere with this cinematic phenomenon that reintroduces a lost film form last seen in “Hagashash Hahiver” comedy. Through its incredible wit, we watch as the impending destruction of the city of Sodom approaches. This is one of those films that you’ll either adore or detest. I was most amused.

In a more serious vein, Yair Elazar explores the legacy of his father, David “Dado” Elazar, who was Israel Defense Forces chief of staff during Israel’s 1973 Yom Kippur War. In the aftermath of the great victory that concluded a war that could have caused Israel’s destruction, leaders of the government resigned and Elazar was found by a state commission of inquiry to be fully responsible for the IDF’s lack of preparedness for the attack by the Egyptian and Syrian armies. The young Elazar explores the conclusion of the commission and the man most responsible for Israel’s ultimate victory. Much as Nathaniel Kahn had used cinema in his 2003 “My Architect” to come to grips with his relationship with his father Louis Kahn, Yair Elazar does the same in this worthy effort.

The Israel Film Festival ends on May 19. There is still time to see, enjoy, and be educated by many of the films. For more information, go to


‘Bride Flight: A powerful story about friendship and history’

A scene from “Bride Flight.”

For the last few decades, filmmakers have been dramatizing aspects of the Holocaust. Initially, there was strong reaction by some survivors and Holocaust historians, most notably Elie Wiesel, who claimed that these dramas were “trivializations” and that no narrative film could capture the horrors that were endured. The debate has softened these past years as there is realization and growing evidence across the globe that these television and film dramas have provided an incredible teaching tool and have effected a better understanding of the Shoah. In the Netherlands, filmmaker Paul Verhoeven rewrote his own film history when he made his 2006 film “Black Book.” It detailed Dutch collaboration with the Nazis three decades after his “Soldiers of Orange” glorified the work of the Dutch underground. Now, Dutch director Ben Sombogaart takes a look at how the war changed people’s lives and how they moved beyond it to reconstruct new lives, sometimes in a far and distant place. Sombogaart focused on how the war, coupled with widespread flooding in Holland, affected a generation, some of whom fled Europe to seek out a new life. This is the story of four such people.

The film,“Bride Flight,” opens with actual newsreel footage of one of the post-war “bride flights” that brought young women from the continent to New Zealand, where they were to join their “intended,” marry, and establish a new life. We meet Ada (Karina Smulders), Esther (Anna Drijver), and Marjorie (Elise Schaap), three women from totally different backgrounds, whose fiancés are to meet them when the plane lands in Auckland. Also on the flight is Frank (Waldemar Torenstra), a handsome adventurer whose friendship with the three women, which evolves during the flight, is interwoven throughout the film. Ada grew up on a farm and, in the course of consoling a young man who has lost his entire family to the floods, becomes pregnant; the priest will be waiting with her “proxy” husband upon her arrival to finalize their marriage. Marjorie’s dreams for money, a handsome husband, beautiful children, and a home by the ocean are dampened by homesickness, as she deeply misses family left behind. Esther is the Jewish character who has lost her entire family in the Holocaust. She seems proud of her Jewishness, yet as lone survivor of her family, she carries incredible guilt and is unsure that she can sustain a marriage, bring a child into the world, and nurture a family. Her story, set alongside that of the other women and Frank, is a memorable study of the complexity of survival and how people chose to carry on in the aftermath of the war. Esther’s photograph of lost parents and siblings sits on the night table next to Marjorie’s family photo of distant family. Each is trying to make do with loss and separation, but the back-and-forth letters between Marjorie and family in Holland are not replicable by Esther.

Sombogaart’s Esther is a fascinating study of a lone survivor of the Shoah — smart, beautiful, and talented, who, because of her experiences seeks love yet is seemingly incapable of committing to a relationship. She leaves war-torn Europe to join her fiancé and create a Jewish and kosher home in a new world. He is waiting for her as they land, but she is unable or simply not ready to re-establish family. Whether it is because of her commitment to her work as a designer, the psychological baggage she carries, or a simple lack of attraction, she rebuffs him — and with him, Jewish community. Although she is savvy and able to establish a successful fashion business, her personal life seems wanting. She wants to love but does not know how. She seeks continuation of the Jewish people (she always seems to be carrying around an enormous menorah), yet is unprepared to make this happen in her own life. Where Ada seems wanting of love, Marjorie needy for family, Esther’s very essence seems toward perpetuating Jewish continuity, yet she is unable or unwilling to act. The psychological damage is too great.

“Bride Flight” is a lavish romantic drama about four individuals who escaped the gloom of post-World War II Holland for a better life in New Zealand. The landscapes are incredibly pretty, and it is easy to understand what drew the four to this new country. Each had been affected by the times and seeks renewal in a new land. The relationships between each intersect and collide in odd and unique ways, with Frank (the older Frank played by Rutger Hauer) being a pivotal force as friend, lover, father, and counselor. It is his funeral that brings the three women together at his New Zealand vineyard after a half-century of separation.

While at times “soppy,” the film is compelling with a powerful story about friendship and history.


Critic’s notebook:  ‘A warm and special evening’

Eric A. GoldmanMusic | Theater
Published: 05 August 2011
Jake Ehrenreich in a scene from Jake Ehrenreich’s “A Jew Grows in Brooklyn.” Carol Rosegg

I had a chance to see Jake Ehrenreich in “A Jew Grows in Brooklyn” at the Queens Theatre in the Park and was pleasantly surprised by a delightfully entertaining evening. Ehrenreich, in his one-man show, tells his life story of growing up as the first American-born child of Holocaust survivors. He recounts stories of vacationing with other “griner” families, working the Catskill resorts, and trying his talents in the world of rock. Ehrenreich feels comfortable singing pop songs of the ‘50s and rock ‘n’ roll and he even belts out a medley of classic Yiddish tunes. He is an incredible talent, and whether he is telling jokes from the golden days of the Borscht Belt, playing his saxophone, or simply sharing what it was to be a Jew growing up in Brooklyn after World War II, this is a warm and special evening. I highly recommend it.

It can be seen through Aug. 21. For information, call the box office, (718) 760-0064, or go to


The changing of the guard


French Jewishness is key to understanding Gainsbourg film

Eric A. GoldmanFilm
Published: 26 August 2011
Eric Elmosnino as Serge Gainsbourg in “Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life.”

Attempting to paint the story of a life on the canvas of cinema is no easy task, even for French comic book artist Joann Sfar. What Sfar brings to cinema is an appetite for maximum utilization of the arts and the presentation of biography in as different and non-linear a fashion as possible. The subject of Sfar’s film is Serge Gainsbourg, a singer, artist, and composer who is probably best known here for writing and recording the late 1960s song “Je t’aime ... moi non plus” (I love you … me neither). The sexually charged song, complete with heavy breathing and X-rated lyrics, was banned in several countries and caused quite a stir when Gainsbourg and actress and lover Jane Birkin recorded it. Anyone who was older than 5 at the time remembers this song and how it filled the airwaves.

Born Lucien Ginsburg, the Paris-born child of Russian Jewish immigrants, Gainsbourg was used to being different. In fact, the film opens with a prologue showing young Lucien being rejected by a girl on a beach as “too ugly.” As a youth in Nazi-occupied Paris, he was deeply affected by the notion of being the “other” and by the requirement to wear a yellow star that accentuated that distinctiveness. This and the fact that he had to go into hiding during the war profoundly affected him. Writer/Director Sfar shows a youth comfortable with his Jewishness yet struck by the reality of being ostracized. Lucien rushes to police headquarters to be first in line to receive his yellow star and wears it proudly, boldly parading past the anti-Semitic posters that line the streets of Paris. In many ways, Sfar is portraying not only young Lucien during the war, but all Jews in France today who are finding it harder to be openly Jewish in an increasingly uncomfortable climate. Sfar forcefully captures these feelings as he inserts Gainsbourg’s alter ego, “La Juif de la France,” a somewhat grotesque “Jewish-looking” caricature, into the film. The interchanges between the two and Sfar’s cinematic treatment of the youth during this formative period provide some of the most meaningful and insightful moments of the motion picture.

Gainsbourg wanted to paint but he wound up as a chanteur, playing the piano in cabarets. The songs he wrote soon caught the attention of producers and he began to perform, touring with such luminaries as Jacques Brel. Gainsbourg soon showed a predilection for musical innovation and, as his fame grew, his public love affairs drew attention. The most famous of these was with actress Brigitte Bardot, for whom he wrote his famous “Je t’aime ... moi non plus.” Sfar playfully and artistically shows us the creative process of Gainsbourg’s music-making as the two frolic and together create and record what was the first version of the song. But soon after, Bardot blocked release of the song, fearing it would harm her career and marriage. Gainsbourg later rerecorded it with Birkin. The film tastefully takes us through the various stages of his life and the women with whom he shared them. Gainsbourg became the master of the French pop song and, while holding that title, he also quickly became known as France’s provocateur and bad boy.

Filmmaker Sfar, whose mother is Ashkenazi and father Sephardi, seems aligned with Gainsbourg. Like the subject of this film, Sfar is a highly talented Jewish musician and artist who has worked in several media. It is French Jewishness that seems key in fully understanding this film. The young Sfar emulated Gainsbourg, and this recounting of a modern myth is his first feature film project. Sfar mixes fantasy with reality and creates a film that does not follow classic film narrative style. If you like unconventional films, then you are in for a treat. But make no mistake, this film is bold and takes us on a very different path than most film biographies.

Eric Elmosnino as Gainsbourg is exceptional, and he is supported by the highly talented Lucy Gordon and Laetitia Casta. The film opens on Aug. 31 at Film Forum in New York City. As for Sfar, the multi-talented writer/director just completed the adaptation of his graphic novel “Rabbi’s Cat” as a feature-length animated film. It opened in France in June, so keep your eyes open for its release here.


A ‘Debt’  worth paying for

Eric A. GoldmanFilm
Published: 02 September 2011
Jessica Chastain, as Mossad agent Rachel Singer, in a scene from “The Debt.” Sam Worthington co-stars. Photos by Lauri Sparham

For a long time, spy films typically were not part of the Israeli cinema repertoire. Israelis, it seems, avoided films with intelligence themes, perhaps because putting them on the big screen made Israelis somewhat uncomfortable.

American and European moviemakers have had fewer reservations; for them, the Israeli spy thriller is an attractive one. Over the last 30 years, they have given us a John le Carré adaptation (“Little Drummer Girl,” 1984); the story of Israeli spy Elie Cohen, who reached the highest levels of influence in Syria (“The Impossible Spy,” 1987); and Steven Spielberg’s story of those who avenged the Munich Olympic Massacre (“Munich,” 2005), to cite just a few. All of these films tackled the deep divisions between Israelis and Arabs, and the attempt by Israel to assassinate or spy on some “bad” Arabs of importance.

This reluctance in Israel began to change, however, with the appearance of a new “bad guy on the block,” one more easily identifiable with evil—the Nazi. So it is with “The Debt,” a film that opened this week in theaters across the country.

“The Debt” is a part of this somewhat unusual transition, in which Israeli filmmakers take a critical look at their country’s spy service, just as they had done for decades by producing introspective films scrutinizing the military.

In 2004, Eytan Fox, in his film “Walk on Water,” provided a piercing portrait of a Mossad agent who had gone on endless assassination missions. He is sent to seek out and kill a former high-ranking Nazi officer, but his years in the field have worn him down. For him, the glamour is gone. When he finds a weak and sick old man with little time to live, he questions not only the overall purpose of his mission, but his own reasons for doing it. Steven Spielberg revisited the issue the following year with Eric Bana’s Avner character in “Munich.”

Enter producer Eitan Even. Over the course of a 30-year career, he has given us some excellent films — including “The Summer of Aviya” and “Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi.” Four years ago, he released HaHov (“The Debt”). In the thriller, the lead character Rachel is a former spy who has become an icon in Israel for having eliminated “The Butcher of Treblinka.” There is more to her story, however, as becomes obvious as the plot unfolds.

The underlying essence of Even’s film is a hard look at the “warrior” class in Israel and an examination of what happens when these soldiers return home and are integrated into society. Exactly what does a society expect of people who go to war and what happens after they return home? This question is an important element in Japanese cinema and became an entire film genre in the United States, especially after the Vietnam War. In Israel, a country in which former war heroes and generals ascend the ladder of politics and industry to take the helm of the country, filmmakers long have struggled with this issue. Now, perhaps to more easily add a female element to the mix, the new warrior doing the important work of the state is a member of Mossad, Israel’s spy agency.

Even’s film, directed by Assaf Bernstein and written by Bernstein with Ido Rosenblum, drew little attention in Israeli theaters. Despite some critical acclaim and a fine performance by Gila Almagor, Israel’s leading actress, the film quickly disappeared onto DVD.

Even, however, saw the strides being made by Israeli producers in getting their work picked up for American and British audiences — most notably “B’Tipul” (“In Treatment”), which HBO adapted. So he took the story to England and arranged for a remake of the film, but for an English-speaking audience. He stayed on as a producer in the remake of “The Debt,” which stars Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain, and Tom Wilkinson in the lead roles. It is the kind of thriller that is framed by fine performances and a fair amount of action to hold a viewer’s attention, from beginning to end.

On one level, this is just another spy thriller, set largely in 1990s Israel and 1960s East Berlin, when Cold War tensions provided the kind of intrigue that can captivate just about any audience. The fact that the bad guy—a doctor who conducted experiments in the Nazi death camps, known in this version as “The Butcher of Birkenau”—is to be spirited away to Israel to stand trial seems plausible and acceptable to just about any audience. It is then, however, that the Jewish question of what constitutes justice enters the debate. In the end, these three young agents fake an assassination of the victim and abort their mission, putting themselves at great risk. An important side issue also dealt with in the film is how Israeli society rewards machismo and faults weakness and inefficiency. I found this to be a particularly interesting subplot in the film.

As with any thriller, providing too much of the story in advance spoils the unfolding of the plot that this film does quite well. So, be careful what you read, because there is always the temptation for a reviewer to tell it all! John Madden (“Shakespeare in Love”) does a credible job directing, with a screenplay written by Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman, and Peter Straughan. The crisp music by Thomas Newman (son of Hollywood music great Alfred Newman) is worthy.

Watching Helen Mirren do her magic on the screen is always a delight and almost as impressive is Jessica Chastain as the young Rachel.

This is certainly a film to see.


Gei Oni

An Israeli epic, with Yiddish

Eric A. GoldmanFilm
Published: 13 July 2012
From right, actors Tamar Alkan, Ezra Dagan, and Levana Finkelstein. Ran Aviad

Dan Wolman is one of Israel’s finest film artists, one of the leading “second generation” directors who began making films in the 1970s. After completing his army service, he studied filmmaking in New York; when he returned to Israel he wrote and directed “Hatimhoni” (The Dreamer), a love story about a special relationship between a young man and an older woman. The film was in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Together with playwright Hanoch Levin, he then undertook “Floch,” the story of an elderly man who loses his only child in an auto accident and seeks a way to have a descendant, even if it means leaving his wife. That film was screened at the Venice Film Festival.

Wolman’s talent for successfully creating onscreen relationships that deviated from the norm was evident from the very beginning and is seen in his next film, his and Esther Mor’s adaptation of Amos Oz’s “My Michael,” which tackled the psychological demons of a young married woman struggling in 1950s Jerusalem. By the end of the decade, Wolman broke the “gay” barrier with his fourth feature film, “Machbo’im” (Hide and Seek), set during Israel’s War of Independence, about a homosexual relationship between a young Israeli and an Arab on the other side of the fence. That film won prizes at the Berlin Film Festival.

Now, four decades after he began, the septuagenarian is more active than ever, working in theater, teaching, and making short films, television dramas, documentaries, and an occasional narrative feature. He has defied convention, always working in situations where he has had full control and often making films on the lowest of budgets. Many of those films have tackled aspects of Israeli life usually not seen on the Israeli screen, people on the margins of society: the foreign worker, a soldier denied military service, the Russian aide who takes care of the elderly parents of a child who has moved to America. Wolman is always exploring; he just finished shooting a film in Chinese with the Academy of the Opera in Beijing. Over the years, he has adapted classics from Sholem Aleichem, I.L. Peretz, I.B. Singer, and most recently David Grossman.

Now Wolman has written the screenplay for Shulamit Lapid’s novel “Gei Oni” (Valley of Strength); it is the 16th feature film that he has directed.

The film takes us back to the last decades of the nineteenth century, when most Jews fleeing pogrom-ravaged Russia fled to America, not Palestine. This is the mythic time of the first aliyah, the period when immigrants came to Israel “livnot u’lehibanot ba,” to build up the land of Israel and be reconstituted by that experience.

It is the story of Fania and Yechiel, whose chance arranged marriage may bring them together but does not allow them a chance to get to know each other. Each comes from a different world. He is a Safed-born yeshivah bokhr who left the yeshivah in order to take part in reclaiming the land. Newly arrived from Russia, Fania’s native tongue is Yiddish; she speaks haltingly in Hebrew and we do not quite understand why she chose not to follow her sisters and their children to America.

Yechiel, whose wife just died from malaria, has two young children. Fania has a baby and a mentally challenged brother, whom she refuses to abandon; we know nothing of the circumstances of her baby’s birth, except that Yechiel is told that her husband had been killed in a pogrom in Russia.

So begins a relationship, with a promise from Yechiel that nothing will take place between them without full mutual consent. So begins another Wolman effort to delve into relationships, this time between a man and woman who marry simply because she has no place to stay and he has nobody to care for his children. As in other Wolman films, one of them holds a secret that affects who they are.

The filmmaker nobly handles the challenge and presents a fascinating look at an evolving relationship within the tapestry of the founding of a Zionist reality on the land of Israel. Make no mistake — Yechiel wants Fania, and despite his early promise he comes close to breaking his word. Will she finally fall in love with him or is she simply to remain the nanny to his children? While all this sexual tension is taking place, we watch the evolution of a transplanted woman, finding new roots. Fania is out in the field clearing rocks, negotiating with her Arab neighbors, seeking creative ways to earn a living. She is equal to any of the men and not afraid to share her thoughts. We learn that she actually is far more cultured than most, as we watch her engrossed in her novels, speaking English, and even playing the piano. Fania, played so well by Tamar Alkan, is the epitome of the chalutza. She is a pioneer in the truest sense.

Wolman covers a great deal as he adapts Lapid’s epic novel for the screen. We see the distrust between Jewish and Arab neighbors. We learn of land sales by Arab sheikhs and the displacement of the fellahin, the Arab laborers who inhabited that land. There is disease, hunger, even the shooting of one of the young pioneers. And there is the debate over which language should be spoken, Yiddish or Hebrew.

Interestingly, the early part of the movie is largely in Yiddish, with Yiddish actor Yaacov Bodo as Fania’s uncle. There is much to show, and Wolman tries hard to provide a broad panorama.

For many viewers, used to fast-paced car chase-filled cinema, this film will seem slow and draggy. But walk into the theater as if you are going to see a European slower-paced epic and take in the gorgeous Galilee scenery, some fine acting by Alkan and co-star Zion Ashkenazi, and imagine yourself with Fania and Yechiel in Gei Oni, not far from Safed or Tiberius, shortly before it would became the town of Rosh Pina.

“Gei Oni” opens today at the Quad Cinema in New York.

Eric Goldman teaches cinema and is president of Teaneck-based Jewish film distributor Ergo Media.

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