A lecture series organised by the Leo Baeck Institute London and The Wiener Library
FilmTalk 2008/9 focused on the theme of Jews: Heroes and Stars.
FilmTalk examined mainstream feature films and art house films from the perspective of contemporary Jewish history. What vision of Jewish masculinity is offered by Paul Newman in Exodus? What kind of Jewishness is played out by Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl and other films that made her a star? And what is so special about a musical set in the borscht-belt, like Dirty Dancing?
28 October 2008
Ronny Loewy (Filmmuseum Frankfurt)
Flight or Exodus. Holocaust Survivors and Illegal Immigration to Palestine
In The Illegals (Meyer Levin, 1947) filmmakers escort Holcaust survivors on their way through Europe, finally embarking on battered ships hoping to reach Palestine. This semi-documentary was filmed on a real ship of the Jewish underground. Later Otto Preminger tells a similar story in his large-scale production Exodus (1961), starring Paul Newman and Eve Marie Saint.
Ronny Loewy, born in Tel Aviv, works for the German Film Institute in Frankfurt/Main. He was curator of the 1987 exhibition ‘From Babelsberg to Hollywood. Film Emigration out of Nazi Germany’ and has written on topics such as ‘Film in Exile’ and ‘Holocaust & Film’. He has directed several documentary films. From 1992 to 2005 he was co-publisher of the magazine Filmexil. He is project manager of ‘Cinematography of the Holocaust’ in cooperation with the Fritz Bauer Institute.
20 November 2008
Prof Richard Dyer (King’s College London)
Blacks and Jews, Song and Dance
There is a long history of interactions between Jews and African-Americans in popular culture, sometimes affirming an affinity between them, sometimes more fraught. This talk looks especially at two films, The Jazz Singer 1927, which equates black and Jewish music, and Dirty Dancing 1987, where black dance seems more of an alternative to respectable Jewish culture.
Richard Dyer teaches Film Studies at King’s College London. His books include Stars, Heavenly Bodies, Now You See it, White, Only Entertainment, The Matter of Images, The Culture of Queers and Pastiche.
18 March 2009
Dr Martin O’Shaugnessy (Nottingham Trent University)
Renoir’s La Grande Illusion (1937). An Ambiguous Masterpiece
Widely seen as the greatest anti-war film, Renoir’s La Grande Illusion was initially seen as bravely anti-racist, not least because it gave a starring role to Jewish actor Marcel Dalio. After the Second World War, it would be accused of latent antisemitism in the way French Officer Rosenthal was portrayed, an accusation that still lingers. Why this ambiguity? And what do we make of the unacknowledged Jewishness of the famous Austrian actor Erich von Stroheim in the role of the Prussian officer von Rauffenstein?
Martin O’Shaughnessy is Reader in Film Studies at Nottingham Trent University. He has written widely on French film and is the author of Jean Renoir (Manchester University Press 2000) and The New Face of Political Cinema (Berghahn 2007). He has just completed a book on La Grande Illusion for I. B. Tauris.
7 May 2009
Dr Michele Aaron (University of Birmingham)
Well Hello Gorgeous: Barbra Streisand as the Jewish Diva
Streisand has had a phenomenally successful career and is adored by millions. Yet she splits opinion, not only on the subject of her beauty but within fierce criticism of her work that finds her too pushy and egocentric. She is both ‘unwimpy’ woman and ‘unwaspy’ star. In this lecture, through Funny Girl especially, we will consider how these two connect, how Streisand’s femininity and feminism, and her Jewishness influence her appeal.
Dr Michele Aaron is senior lecturer in Film and American Studies at the University of Birmingham. Author of Spectatorship: The Power of Looking On (2007) and editor of two books on contemporary culture (1999 and 2004), she has published widely on queer film and theory, and on Jewishness and gender. She is currently completing a book entitled Death and the Moving Image.