Explore Jewish life in Latin America through film.
O ano em que meus pais saíram de férias (The Year My Parents Went on Vacation) tells the story of 12-year-old Mauro, left behind as his political activist parents flee the repressive Brazilian dictatorship. Now taken in by São Paulo’s tightly knit Jewish community, Mauro will come of age against a backdrop of fear and political repression on the one hand and Brazil’s euphoria over their participation in the 1970 World Cup.
Un beso a esta tierra (A Kiss to this Land) tells the story of the Jewish people during the 1920s and 30s, as they left the instability of Europe to begin a new life across the Atlantic in, among other places, Mexico. Even though history would prove this to be wise judgment, in many cases recent arrivals struggled to assimilate into an unfamiliar society and would never again see loved ones who stayed behind. This film was inspired by the story of Jewish director Goldberg’s own grandparents, who finally settled in Cuba having moved around Europe in the 30s and fled France at the outbreak of World War II.
Whiskey tell the story of Señor Jacobo--a joyless owner of a sock factory. When Sr. Jacobo’s brother plans to visit Jacobo, he asks his faithful assistant, Marta, to help pretend like everything is in order. Marta gamely agrees to play the part of his wife so Jacobo pretends he actually has a personal life for the sake of impressing his married brother. They play their parts extremely well, Marta the perfect Susie homemaker and Jacobo the average bored, bitter husband. But it isn’t until the two agree to travel on invitation from Jacobo’s brother to a faded resort the brothers visited as children that we learn some easy and some hard truths about life, responsibility, joy, and the legacy of Jewish immigrants in Uruguay and beyond.
El abrazo partido tells the story of Ariel, a young Argentino on a quest for identity and a sense of belonging that his absent father never gave him. Ariel’s Jewish family emigrated from Eastern Europe, Poland to be specific, and Ariel is suddenly trying to gain Polish citizenship to given himself an identity as a “European.” Set amidst merchants in a Buenos Aires mall who deal in goofy gear that people don’t need, the search for meaning is one that takes place among the meaningless, the absurdity in everyday and the ties that bind sometimes hides a much deeper resonance.
Nuestros desaparecidos tells the story of the military dictatorship which governed Argentina from 1976-1983 was one of the most brutal in Latin American history. Over 30,000 people were disappeared by the authorities, while countless others were detained and tortured. Jewish filmmaker Juan Mandelbaum returns to his home country after thirty years living abroad to trace the legacy of military rule, while drawing parallels between the Argentine dictatorship and the holocaust. As with the Nazis, the military junta sought to erase the memory of its victims. Films like this act as a means of preserving that memory and as such play a role in overcoming the traumatic past.
Morirse está en hebreo (My Mexican Shivah) tells the story of the seven-day Shivah ceremony celebrating the life of Moishe, a recently-departed old boy whose appetite for the good life outweighed his adherence to faith. Nevertheless, custom dictates that Shivah be observed in order to send Moishe on his way to the afterlife. As various dysfunctional family members and associates – among them an embittered daughter, a fugitive grandson gone orthodox, and the local rabbi – descend on Moishe’s apartment in Mexico City’s Jewish Quarter under the pretext of paying their respects, a series of internecine feuds and brooding affairs come to the fore.
Ilusiones ópticas takes a comedic approach to telling the story of (Chilean) society’s obsession with physical appearance. Juan is granted eyesight after a lifetime of blindness and realizes the folly of the world, while Manuela wrestles with that old dilemma: the pros and cons of a boob job. Seeking to reconnect with his Jewish faith, David’s teenage son is giving serious consideration to some – you suspect unadvisable – downstairs self-alteration. None of it seems likely to end well.
Papirosen tells the family story of its Argentinean director, Gastón Solnicki, through the massive amounts of footage he has collected from home videos shot over the years. Along with the archival material, Solnicki also interviews members of his Jewish family, including his grandmother who, as a teenager, escaped her Nazi captors and survived the Holocaust.