A LETTER TO WEDGWOOD: THE LIFE OF GABRIELLA HARTSTEIN AUSPITZ (2012)
Film is being distributed by Yale Strom and BlackStream Films. DVDs are available for $50.00 which includes postage.
Gabriella Hartstein was born in 1914 in Mukacevo, Czechoslovakia, a city shaped by its thriving and cosmopolitan Jewish community: Secular Hungarian Jews co-existed with Khasidim (led by the renowned, charismatic Rabbi Eliezer Shipra) and ardent Zionists. Mukacevo was such a center of Zionism that British Colonel Josiah Wedgwood came in 1922 to give a speech on why he and other Christian Zionists from England were supporting the plan to create the State of Israel. For this momentous occasion, the Jewish community selected a little girl to present their esteemed visitor with flowers and a speech in English, one who had the beauty, charm and intellect to represent them. But Gabriella was so nervous, she burst into tears.
Years later, the adult Gabriella had become an ardent Zionist and teacher at the prestigious Hebrew gymnasium and the Jewish community continued to prosper... until 1938, when the Hungarian fascists invaded this part of Czechoslovakia (with encouragement from Germany) and suddenly, the noose tightened around all of Mukacevo's Jews. It was then that Gabriella had the audacious thought to write to the man (now Lord Wedgwood) who might be able to save her and her family. Did he remember that shy, little girl from all those years ago?
Astonishingly, Lord Wedgwood personally interceded, ultimately bringing Gabriella and her brother to England. Gabriella's relationship with her unlikely rescuer is depicted through interviews, archival photos, rare archival footage and letters, and a moving soundtrack, and tells a rare story of survival and hope in the face of the Holocaust. In black and white, 55 minutes long.
A GREAT DAY ON ELDRIDGE STREET
View Film Clip
The celebration of klezmer music, October 2007
On October 12, 2007, over one hundred klezmer musicians and Yiddish singers gathered on the steps of New York City’s Eldridge Street synagogue for a once-in-a-lifetime photo shoot. Brought from around the world, these musicians represent the most influential klezmer artists of the revival and in the world today. This significant event was noted for its participants (ranging from Theo Bikel to John Zorn) and was followed by the world’s longest klezmer march, when these musicians took to the streets of the Lower East Side for a parade and impromptu outdoor concert. As they marched, onlookers began to follow along curious to see what this celebration was all about. It was Yiddish street theatre at its best!
Over the next two evenings, the participants performed formally at City University’s Martin E. Segal Theatre and Symphony Space. A GREAT DAY ON ELDRIDGE STREET portrays all of these events. This film not only chronicles this extraordinary weekend, but celebrates the revival of klezmer music and Yiddish song that has now become one of the main soundtracks for Jewish culture throughout the world today with humor, pathos… and of course, great music.
The photo from this shoot is now a poster and can be sold at all screenings.The film is 30 minutes long and this includes the credits.The film can be screened on DVD or Digi-Beta.The filmmaker can come to the screening and provide give a klezmer concert afterwards. This is Yale Strom's first short documentary film.
Klezmer on Fish Street
View Film Clip
WINNER, Special Jury Selection, 2003 Palm Beach Int’l Film Fest
If you’ve seen “The Pianist”, you have a sense of Jewish life in Poland during WWII…
now see what Jewish life is like in Poland today.
When you travel to Krakow, Poland, you can stay in the former Jewish Quarter of Kazimiercz, at a Jewish inn. You will wake up to a kosher-style breakfast. You will take the “Schindler’s List” tour. You will return for a kosher-style lunch, and then take the bus to Auschwitz-Birkenau. You will end your day with a kosher-style dinner, followed by a klezmer concert, will you have met a Polish Jew? Is the revival of Jewish culture in Poland today only the culture or is Jewish life being revived as well? These and other questions will be examined in this film through the through the eyes of “The Klezmaniacs” - a group of young, Jewish-American klezmer musicians - traveling to Poland on a self-initiated "musical goodwill tour". Translating for them is singer Shira Shazeer's grandmother, who lost her family and was deported 60 years earlier. As this "next generation" of proponents of Yiddish culture explores their roots, the grandmother searches her childhood neighborhood for any remaining vestiges of Jewish life. These vignettes of Poland are intercut with an unfolding confrontation between Jewish tourists, non-Jewish Poles and Jewish Poles while the local police stand by uneasily. Together, these scenes create a true sense of Jewish life in Poland today. The film is distributed by Castle Hill Films and is available on DVD, video and BETA. 646 822-9232
L'Chayim, Comrade StalinView Film Clip
Official Selection – 2002 Berlin Film Festival
In March of 2000, director Yale Strom flew to Moscow to begin his trek to the fabled Jewish Autonomous Region of Siberia. Upon arrival, he discovered that some of his luggage and camera equipment had been misrouted. The Russian authorities weren’t overly concerned. Rather, Strom was informed that he had brought his violin with him “illegally” – and unless he could provide proper documentation, including photos of his violin, he would not be permitted to return to America with it. He offered to shoot off a roll of film on the spot, but he was told that he had to follow bureaucratic procedure.Thus, the stage is set for Strom’s journey to Birobidzhan, capitol of the J.A.R., on Siberia’s Far Eastern border. Accompanying him on the 7-day train trip via Trans-Siberian Railroad is interpreter-bodyguard (and former KGB agent) Slava Andreovich. As Strom travels east, he makes the serendipitous discovery that Slava is in fact the grandson of Mikhail Kalinin, first president of the U.S.S.R. and the architect of the J.A.R. Slava is also a dedicated anti-Semite… although he likes Yale: “If I hated all Jews, would I be here with you?”
The endless train trip, and the casual anti-Semitism of his Russian fellow passengers, immerse Strom in the experiences of the first Jewish pioneers to settle the region in 1928. Strom’s interviews and encounters are intercut with archival footage and scenes from the rare Soviet propaganda film about Birobidzhan, entitled “Seekers of Happiness” (1936). Strom’s encounters with Russians en route to Birobidzhan, and his interviews with early Jewish pioneers to the J.A.R. (and young proponents of the rekindled interest in Yiddish culture) both in the U.S. and Russia, paint a vivid portrait of the circumstances surrounding this unique chapter in Soviet, and world, history.
The film is distributed by Cinema Guild and is available on DVD, video and BETA. 212-685-6242.
*Official Selection – 2002 Berlin Film Festival*-----
AT THE CROSSROADS: JEWISH LIFE IN
EASTERN EUROPE TODAY (1989) View Film Clip
enduring culture..." LA Times
How was perestroika effecting Jewish communities in Poland, Hungary and former Czechoslovakia, just as the Berlin Wall was tumbling down? With his violin in hand, Yale travels and speaks with Jews and non-Jews about what it means to be a Jew in a "new" Eastern Europe. (available on 16mm & video from Yale Strom)
THE LAST KLEZMER: LEOPOLD KOZLOWSKI, HIS LIFE AND MUSIC (1994)
"One of 1994's
top ten films..." Michael Medved - NY Post
View Film Clip
Meet the last klezmer to have grown up in the tradition
and who is still performing and teaching his art to mostly
gentiles in Poland today. Leopold takes a trip back to his
hometown of Prezmyslany, Ukraine for the first time since
1945 and shows Yale what life was like for a klezmer before
WWII. Along the way we meet a friend of Leopold's and learn
how they both survived the war.
(available on 16mm & video
from New Yorker films 212-247-6110, 800-447-0196)
Now Available Here!
The DVD comes with an additional 18 minutes of never before seen footage.
" The Last Klezmer is a beautifully heartfelt personal exploration of one man's survival, and his attempt to make his cherished music survive as well. " - DVD Talk Read More
50 MILES, 50 YEARS (1996) View Film Clip
Zev Godinger as an
ice cream vendor in Beregovo, in 1951.
Zev Godinger is the caretaker of the Jewish community of
Beregovo, Ukraine. When Zev meets Yale and his partner David
Notowitz, he decides to return to his hometown of Vinogradov
for the first time in 50 years. While on the train trip Zev
carries a Torah (brought by Yale & David from the US)
for his boyhood synagogue which hasn't had one for years.
During the course of the trip we meet many of Zev's friends,
particularly the Gypsies who are the ones who maintain what
little Jewish music remains in the Carpathian mountains. DVD available through the distributor Cinema Guild. (212) 685-6242