Yiddish Theater: A Love Story (2006)
Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 20
Fresh: 18 | Rotten: 2
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Average Rating: 6.5/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 1
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Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 245
Between the late '30s and 2006, the number of Yiddish stage theaters in the Big Apple sadly dwindled from twelve to one. Two of the last remaining institutions were the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre, sustained for many years by Holocaust survivor Zypora Spaisman (1916-2002), and Spaisman's last remaining stage ensemble, the Yiddish Public Theatre. With his documentary Yiddish Theater: A Love Story, director Dan Katzir visits Spaisman in the final few years of her life, when the determined
Jul 24, 2006 Wide
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Intriguing and entertaining despite some rough edges, Dan Katzir's documentary profits immeasurably from the ancient Spaisman's genuine charisma.
If you end up kvelling for these performers, the doc has served its purpose.
Given its origins, it's not surprising that Yiddish Theater: A Love Story has a catch-as-catch-can feeling to it. But nothing can take away from the flavor of being caught up in the battles and dreams of a formidable group of people.
Although the film's highly personal approach ultimately pays off in terms of heartfelt emotion -- particularly at its bittersweet conclusion -- it's hard not to wish that its focus was not quite so narrow.
Filmed in real time during the freezing winter of 2000, Yiddish Theater: A Love Story tracks eight days in the failing life of the Yiddish Public Theater.
The Yiddish Theater: A Love Story is as charming, humorous, convincing, tenacious and relevant as its wonderful leading lady.
However, whether by design or happy coincidence, several more universal truths lurk tantalizingly in the upper balcony and lift this production from the specific to the universal.
... an uneven but ultimately charming %u2013 and sad %u2013 look at the disappearance of a centuries-old cultural tradition whose impact on our own culture has been inestimable.
Yiddish Theater is a melancholy work, as well it should be, but it's also almost giddy much of the time with the delight of discovery, preservation and nostalgia.
Katzir's documentary is on the cusp of posing worthy questions about American assimilation and cultural evolution, but it'd rather appeal to guilt and sympathy for art that we never get to feel.
When you see all of these octogenarians struggling through the snow and perilous ice to make it to their show, you really see what true courage and artistic commitment are all about.
Charming documentary on the struggle to keep Yiddish theater alive against all odds, including assimilated Jews' shame at a language associated with victimhood.
The film's candid personalities provide plenty of memorably off-the-cuff moments.
Interviews with aging caretakers of the Yiddish Theater are vivid windows into a bygone world, and Spaisman herself, a feisty firebrand whose accent is so strong Katzir supplied subtitles, is a formidable personality.
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