Charlie Bernhaut has been instrumental in the survival and revival of traditional cantorial music. As the cofounder of Cantors’ World, now in its fifth year, he has been a part of dozens of standing-room-only concerts of contemporary cantorial music. Last year his donation of over 15,000 recordings to the American Society of Jewish Music was a massive windfall for that organization.
In the cultural history of the second half of the 20th century, few figures — and no Jews — are more influential or pivotal than Bob Dylan.
No other artist bestrides so many trends and streams of Americana; Dylan merges folk, blues, gospel, country, rock and modernist poetry (with strong ties to the Symbolists and Surrealists). And in his relentless shape-shifting and self-reinvention he is an archetype for the age of mass communications.
It is a commonplace notion that historical fictions are not about the period in which they are set but, rather, the period in which they are created. Elie Chouraqui’s new film, “O Jerusalem,” which opens Oct. 17, is a case in point.
Consider Thorold Dickinson’s 1954 film "Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer" and Baruch Dinar’s landmark 1960 drama "They Were Ten." Each film has a tragic ending in which the death of Zionist patriots is a necessary prelude to the founding of a Jewish state. Then look at Uri Zohar’s "Every Bastard a King" and Joseph Millo’s "He Walked Through the Fields," both made late in 1967 (although the latter is set in 1948), both guardedly upbeat, with heroic protagonists who cheerfully rush through shot and shell to victory.
Adolescence is a miserably difficult time. That’s about the time that Nicole Opper decided that she was going to be Jewish. That’s about the time that Avery Klein-Cloud, the subject of Opper’s first feature-length film, “Off and Running,” began to struggle with questions of her own identity, questions not unlike those the filmmaker had wrestled with a decade or so before, only much more complicated.
When you hear about the latest collaboration between a Palestinian filmmaker and his Israeli counterpart, the last thing you would expect to see is a gritty urban crime film. On the other hand, as Tolstoy observed that you can tell a lot about a nation by the state of its prisons, you can learn a lot about a culture by its crime fiction. After all, as the new Israeli film “Ajami” reminds us forcefully, the reasons that people enter into criminal activity speak pretty loudly about the most elemental forces at play in their daily lives.
Although she continued to write film criticism throughout her life, Susan Sontag’s filmmaking career was fairly brief, basically consisting of three feature films made between 1969 and 1974 (she also made a telefilm for RAI in 1983). After two fiction features, “Duet for Cannibals” (1969) and “Brother Carl” (1971), Sontag turned her hand to documentary and what would prove to be her most overt statement on Jewish matters, “Promised Lands” (1974). That rarely shown film is getting a weeklong run beginning on Feb. 4.