Date: Sunday, November 13
Time: 7:30 PM
Location: Hiway Theater,
Director: Eva Neymann
Genre: Narrative Feature
Running Time: 75 min
Language: Russian w/ English subtitles
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Rooted in the Yiddish folklore of Sholem Aleichem’s short stories, Eva Neymann’s tender third feature is a delicate and affecting coming-of-age story set at the turn of the 20th century.
Growing up in the beautiful but insular world of his close-knit Ukrainian shtetl, guided and nurtured by tradition, the elf-like Shimek (Yevheniy Kogan) endearingly acquiesces to his conservative parents’ rearing. However, neither Shimek’s parents nor his school’s stern rabbi are able to deflate this precocious child’s uncanny imagination. Cultivating a friendship with local girl Buzya (Milena Tsibulskaya), Shimek finds himself more than a confidant – he finds a “home” for all of his otherworldly thoughts and meanderings.
In another time and place, Shimek and Buzya would be together, but, in their archaic shtetl, any demonstration of affection is restrained by the village’s orthodox customs. It is only after fate sends Shimek away from his village that he realizes the true depth of his feelings for Buzya. When he finally returns, it will be a homecoming with a palette tinted grey with regret but redeemed by faith that the old world can be born anew.
With beautiful scenery worthy of the Flemish masters, Neymann constructs a remarkably detailed tone poem. The film’s magical, ephemeral aura is enhanced by its soundtrack, vinyl recordings by Jewish singers and musicians, as well as its impeccable lighting and production design. Supported by the nuanced debut performances from its lead actors, SONG OF SONGS is a cinematic triumph, a measured and lyrical representation of youthful devotion in a time of great change.
Guest Speaker: Sonia Gollance, Yiddish Literature and Dance Scholar, Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Pennsylvania
Sponsor: Lee Ducat
Awards and Honors: Official Selection of the New York Jewish Film Festival, Washington Jewish Film Festival, and Toronto International Film Festival
Subjects: Dreams, faith, first love, friendship, marriage, religion, shtetl life, Ukraine, unrequited love, youth
For Fans Of: Arthouse films, coming-of-age stories, independent films, Jewish literature, love stories, lyrical poetry, meditative films, Eva Neymann, Russian cinema, Sholem Aleichem, Wes Anderson films