The Arts

Being The Safdie Brothers

The life and ‘manic cinema’ of the buzz-generating filmmaking duo.

Special To The Jewish Week

What makes a filmmaker’s work Jewish?

Benny Safdie, at 24 the younger half of a filmmaking duo with his brother Josh, earnestly asserts that the Jewishness of the two pervades their work, and this critic tends to agree with him. That work is the subject of a current program at BAMCinemathek that includes not only their two features and many shorts but also films that influenced them.

Safdie also readily admits that he’d be hard put to identify Jewishy specifics from their small but significant output.

Brother act: Josh, left, and Benny Safdie.

‘A People That Dwells Alone’

In his new work, British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks offers a tough critique of Modern Orthodoxy.

Special To The Jewish Week

Asked once to distinguish between his office and that of his Israeli counterparts, British Chief Rabbi Immanuel Jacobovits responded that while he possessed “influence but no power” they possess “power but no influence.”

Future Tense

Separation Anxiety: "Secrets of the Trade"

A college student’s playwright mentor makes his parents uneasy in Jonathan Tolins’ hit play.

Special to the Jewish Week

Our parents may be our first and most important teachers, but part of growing up is finding new mentors who can point us toward success in our careers. In Jonathan Tolins’ new play, “Secrets of the Trade,” set in the 1980s, a theater-obsessed suburban Jewish teenager, Andy Lipman (Noah Robbins) becomes the protege of a legendary but egotistical Broadway playwright, Martin Kerner (John Glover).

Secrets of the Trade

New Holocaust Film: Recycling History

Long avoiding Shoah films because of her personal connection, Yael Hersonki was compelled to analyze ghetto images used by Nazis in “A Film Unfinished.”

Special to the Jewish Week

It’s a rather odd admission for a director whose first feature film is a ground-breaking documentary about the Holocaust, but growing up in Israel, Yael Hersonski avoided films about the Shoah and memorial sites like Yad Vashem. She had a much more vivid reminder of the events at home.

Israeli filmmaker Yael Hersonki used footage from unfinished Nazi propaganda to show life in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Mississippi’s Burning Questions

In “Neshoba,” Micki Dickoff paints a vivid picture of the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers, and justice still unserved.

Special to the Jewish Week

In 1964 when she was only 17, Micki Dickoff asked her father if she could go to Mississippi to work with the volunteers  of  Freedom Summer, registering black voters. Her father, a Mississippi native, refused to allow her to go. His was the only Jewish family in a small Mississippi town, and he feared what she would find there. Not long after, his worst fears were confirmed when three of the volunteers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, were murdered by local Klansmen, all of them deputy sheriffs of Neshoba County. 

After 50 years, Edward Ray Killen, a former KKK member, remains unrepentant for his role in the murder of three young activists,

Jews On The Fringe (Festival)

From day school grads-turned-college freshmen to spiritual seekers in Jerusalem to South African emigrés, annual fest includes several Jewish-themed plays.

Special To The Jewish Week

Why are we commanded to wear fringes on our garments? They are a potent reminder of our Jewish identity but also indicate that who we are splays out into the rest of the world, and that the boundaries between us and other people can be fuzzy.

The plays "Abraham's Daughters," above and "Omarys Concepcion Lopez Perez Goes to Israel."

A Holocaust-Themed ‘Dybbuk’

British playwright’s reworking of the surrealistic play follows five Jews being deported to Auschwitz.

Special To The Jewish Week

 It happened more than six decades ago, but the Shoah still haunts and possesses us. In British playwright and director Julia Pascal’s Holocaust-themed reworking of S. Anski’s surrealistic play, “The Dybbuk,” to be presented beginning next week by the Theater for the New City, the overtaking of a girl’s body by the spirit of her dead lover assumes new echoes and reverberations in the wake of the destruction of the Jews of Europe. 

The surrealistic play follows five Jews being deported to Auschwitz.

Hate-Group Members In Love

Danish film ‘Brotherhood’ explores an unlikely romance between gay neo-Nazis.

Special To The Jewish Week

 There have been many films that explore the pathology and sociology of fascist movements. It’s a subject perhaps better suited to documentary than to fiction simply because the issues are a bit too complex, the strands of race, ethnicity, class and “tribal” allegiance too densely interwoven for dramatization within the allotted time of a conventional feature film.

Danish film ‘Brotherhood’

Samuel Maoz’s 20 Years’ War

As ‘Lebanon’ opens theatrically, the director reflects on his war experience and what it took to turn it into a film.

Special To The Jewish Week

Samuel Maoz was only 20 years old when the first Lebanon War broke out. He was a gunner in a tank crew and at 6:15 a.m. on the morning of June 6, 1982, he killed a man for the first time in his life.

“It was a release to make the film,” Maoz says.

Outsider Art, From An Insider

Gary Shteyngart is still training his satiric gaze on the immigrant experience, Jewish and otherwise.

Staff Writer

‘I don’t feel any need to disassociate with Jews,” said Gary Shteyngart, the phenomenally popular 38-year-old writer whose third novel, “Super Sad True Love Story,” released last week, is chock full of them.

Gary Shteyngart
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