Enter one of the bravest, most cunning men you’ve never heard of: Sir Nicholas Winton, of London, England, smuggled 669 children out of war-torn Czechoslovakia by way of secret transit, and in 1988, 80 of his “children” were able to give him the thanks he deserves.
Deemed the “British Schindler,” this man knew what the art of survival meant not only to the Jews, but to human beings in general– and you can learn more about extraordinary feats during WWII like Sir Winton’s in our upcoming film exhibit, Cinema Judaica.
We are sad to report that this British hero passed away today at the age of 106. Read more.
Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.
For all the “Jews Own Hollywood” BS people like to spew around, portrayal of Jews in movies has not been great. If you ask me to list major films with heroic explicitly Jewish characters in prominent roles over the last 20 years I could give you one example. This guy:
David Levinson from Independence Day. Sure you could head canon any Jeff Goldblum role as Jewish until proven otherwise but outside of the Independence Day Films we have a Chanukiah in the background of the Grimm house in the awful Fantastic Four movie from last summer to signify that Ben Grimm is Jewish if you know to look. Kitty Pryde has been given short shrift in the X-Men films.
Magneto is an anti-villain and the most prominent Jewish character in contemporary cinema.
There is no shortage of Jewish actors, but when Jewish characters show up in movies they tend to be weak, nerdy, criminals, neurotic and, self-loathing and tend to be leads in comedies as far as mainstream films with major Jewish characters are concerned. Because as far as the movie going world is concerned we’re all nebbishes, schlubs and Holocaust victims.
So J.K. Rowling is doing us a solid here by making two of the lead characters of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Jewish.
We now have Queenie and Porpentina Goldstein.
I don’t know if the movie will be any good. I heard horrible things about Rowling’s portrayal of magic in North America in that thing I didn’t read. But the fact of the matter is that, for better or worse, this is the first major international blockbuster film to feature heroic Jewish protagonists that aren’t David Levinson in what feels like forever. And there will be three of these movies.
What will we get from this? We’ll have Jewish and gentile kids buying action figures of Jewish characters, dressing up like them for Halloween, possibly controlling them in Video Games (where Jewish representation is even WORSE than movies), role-playing as them with friends, and even *gasp* admiring them. That matters.
We’re not getting coded Jews, or head canon Jews or Jewish stand-ins. We are getting genuine Jewish characters at the center of a movie that will be seen by millions of people around the world.
I wish this weren’t a big deal, but it is. I’d prefer an X-Men film where Kitty Pryde has a major role but given the direction that franchise has gone in that won’t happen any time soon. I would’ve preferred if they were played by Jewish actresses, but they’re not. They’re what we’ve got. They’re real. And with all the Jews in Hollywood it was a goyische writer who gave them to us..
What Ganja and Hess gets right, mirrors what Blaxploitation-horror at it’s height is capable of achieving. Establishing a shred of tangible yet symbolic truth in otherwise alternate universe, where cultural identities such as race, class, sexuality, and gender can become metaphoric markers of empathy for viewers. Benshoff said it best:
“What is most political about a horror film is what scares the audience in the first place.” (Benshoff 2000: 46)
There’s a possibility that the most pervasive scare tactic is ‘Othering’, it’s a successful methodology that has terrified audiences not just cinematically but politically. We’ve seen Othering during the Transatlantic Slave Trade by ways of scientific racism against the African population and again during the European Holocaust vis a vis scapegoating of the minority Jewish population. In horror cinema, Othering might be the key political factor in uniting our voyeuristic delights, but what that indicates about our threshold for multiple marginalized identities speaks volumes about where we’ve been and how far we still have to go.
Leila Mourad was a Jewish Egyptian convert to Islam of the Golden Age of Arab Cinema. She and Umm Kulthum were in professional competition while she and Sabah competed over her three-time husband Anwar Wajdi. Leila frequently collaborated with Anwar not only in matriomony (seriously–three times!) but also professionally. They starred together in a lot films, most notable Ghazal El Banat. Watch it here.
Leila was accused of conspiring with Israel and had to publicly declare herself as pro-Islam and pro-Egypt in order to quell rising criticisms. Some suspect that Umm Kulthum’s camp planted these rumours (but a conversation about rumours and Umm Kulthum warrants a whole other post). Eventually, Umm Kulthum won professionally as Leila’s career faded in the shadow cast by the Lady. Most pictures of Leila Mourad are very 50s because she was most photographed at the height of her career which spanned, roughly, the 50s.
Silent Soviet adaptation of Sholem Aleichem’s ‘Mendel the Matchmaker’, starring the eminent Yiddish actor Solomon Mikhoels in his film debut. Mikhoels travelled all over the world as the head of the USSR’s 'Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee’ drumming up support for the Soviet Union in opposition to Hitler. Communism being Communism, of course, Mikhoels’s reward for his efforts was his assassination in Minsk in 1948, when he was beaten to death and then run over to make his death seem like a traffic accident. Intertitles for 'Jewish Luck’ were written by the great Isaac Babel, who after a life of military and literary service to the USSR, was tortured, shot and dumped in a mass grave.