A new documentary with the unlikely title “Blinky and Me” may be the best answer yet to the thorny question of how to teach younger children about the Holocaust. The film focuses on the life of Yoram Gross, a prominent director of animated films, first in Israel then in Australia, where he lives and works today. When he was a boy, the Nazi invasion sent his well-to-do family into hiding, dispersing his parents and siblings from Krakow to Russia and the four corners of occupied Poland.
The Israel Film Center is now making nearly 40 of its films available for online streaming. Given that the center has one of the best collections of Israeli film between here and Tel Aviv, this is a fabulous opportunity to catch up with what has become one of the world’s most vibrant and inventive cinemas. Sign-up is free. Israel Film Center at www.israelfilmcenterstream.org.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov’s 18th-century tale, “The Seven Beggars,” gets a contemporary spin in Yehuda Hyman’s one-man dance-theater show, “The Mad 7,” which features a character named Elliott Green, a gay San Francisco office worker who embarks on a mystical quest. One performance only on Sept. 13 at 8 p.m. at the JCC in Manhattan. For tickets, $15-20, call the box office at (646) 505-5708.
It may be less well known than the massacres perpetrated by the Nazis, but the secret mass murder by Stalin of more than a dozen prominent Yiddish writers in 1952 surely stands as one of the most horrific crimes against humanity ever committed. This fall, Nathan Englander’s dramatized version of his chilling short story, “The Twenty Seventh Man,” which addresses the killings, comes to the Public Theater. While the cast has not yet been announced, rumors have it that at least one household name will appear in the production.
Filmmakers Leslie Epstein reprises his character Leib Goldkorn, now a centenarian living in New York City, in “Liebestod: Opera Buffa with Leib Goldkorn” (Norton, February). This is the first time Goldkorn, who has appeared in Epstein’s work, gets his own novel. Here, the European émigré and successful musician is invited back to his hometown in Moravia. He encounters family surprises including a long line of rabbinical cousins who follow him back to New York, where he plans to stage a grand opera.
‘From Hollywood to Nuremberg” at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.
Except for anniversaries, timing is an overlooked quality in the museum world. Perhaps this is understandable — with exhibits planned years in advance, there’s no predicting how culturally relevant a show might be when it finally opens. Yet when the Museum of Jewish Heritage opens its main spring show, “Filming the Camps: John Ford, Samuel Fuller, George Stevens: From Hollywood to Nuremberg,” they may still be able to ride the coattails of this year’s Oscars, which are celebrating retrograde filmmaking.
Israel’s artist collective, Public Movement, part of politically tinged New Museum show.
Ever since the artist and art-professor Allan Kaprow staged the first “happening” in 1957, performance art has become ever more ubiquitous. The basic idea behind a happening, and indeed all of performance art, is that what matters in art is not the final product but the process that creates it. Originally, artists would stage wild events, inviting viewers to watch as they took hundreds of photos of themselves, say, or an artist painted and a musician fiddled nearby.
Since graduating Yale’s MFA program in 2001, the painter Kehinde Wiley has made no secret of his black identity. For much of the last decade, his work has been boldly Afro-centric, and in a distinctly subversive way. He re-appropriates the regal portrait form of the Old Masters. But instead of casting European aristocrats as his subjects, he paints black urban youth; hoodies and baggie jeans are what we see, not breeches and silk stockings. In the backdrop, Wiley adds vibrant colors with arresting geometric patterns, adding ever more visual pop to these already pungent portraits.
Romain Rolland, a Nobel laureate for literature, famously said, “We must struggle with a pessimism of the intellect and an optimism of the will.” The gifted Arab Israeli singer-actress Mira Awad puts it a little differently.