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White Hollywood, Black Films

by Alessio Franko   IF JORDAN PEELE’S socially conscious horror film Get Out wins this year’s Best Picture Oscar, I will cringe — not because the film doesn’t deserve the win (quite the contrary), but because, in that moment, the white members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will all become versions of that […]

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Channel Esther: Forgiving Our Mothers

by Esther Cohen Years ago, although I am not a filmmaker, I went to the Maine Jewish Film Festival to discuss a short film about the labor cultural program, Bread and Roses, and its founder at 1199, Moe Foner. I spoke on a panel about Jewish subject matter with Gayle Kirschenbaum and her mother, Mildred. […]

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November 27: Claude Lanzmann’s “Shoah”

Filmmaker Claude Lanzmann, creator of the epic 9 1/2-hour documentary Shoah (1985), was born in Paris on this date in 1925. Lanzmann’s family went into hiding during World War II, and he joined the French Resistance at 18 and fought in Auvergne in the south central region of the country. From 1952 to 1959 he […]

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November 30: The Lubitsch Touch

Ernst Lubitsch, a successful film director in the Weimar Republic who redoubled his success in Hollywood after 1922 and then again as silent films gave way to talkies, died in Hollywood of a heart condition at age 55 on this date in 1947. In Germany, he made his international reputation with both comedies and large-scale […]

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October 29: Ralph ("Fritz the Cat") Bakshi

Ralph Bakshi, artist, animator, independent filmmaker, and cartoonist whose savage election-year paintings are featured in the current issue of Jewish Currents magazine, was born in Haifa on this date in 1938. Bakshi is best-known for his 1972 film version of R. Crumb’s “Fritz the Cat,” which was the first animated film to receive an X […]

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September 6: Jules Engel, Experimental Animator

Jules Engel, the animator who choreographed the dances of Russian sprites and Chinese mushrooms to Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite in Walt Disney’s Fantasia (1940), died at 94 on this date in 2003. Born in Hungary in 1909, Engel came to the United States in the 1930s and to Hollywood in ’37. After serving as a filmmaker […]

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June 22: Billy Wilder

Filmmaker Billy (Samuel) Wilder, whose Some Like It Hot (1959) was named the all-time greatest American comedy film by the American Film Institute in 2000, was born in Austria-Hungary on this date in 1906. Wilder fled Nazi Germany for Paris and then Hollywood, where he established himself as a film director with Double Indemnity, which […]

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October 26: Hollywood Fights Back

A national radio broadcast written by Norman Corwin,“Hollywood Fights Back!”, was aired on this date in 1947. The show featured forty-five Hollywood personalities, with an opening narrative by Judy Garland: “Have you been to a movie this week? . . . It’s always been your right to read or see anything you wanted to. But […]

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