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Joan Micklin Silver's Portrait of Jewish Life in America, circa 1896

Hester Street

A new restoration of
Directed by Joan Micklin Silver
With Steven Keats, Carol Kane, Mel Howard
1974 > USA > 1 hr 32 mins

New York’s Lower East Side, circa 1896, was a battleground between the Old World and the New, a place where immigrants began the process of becoming “Americans” while a constant stream of new arrivals reminded them of everything they had left behind in Europe.

In Hester Street, director Silver tells the story of Gitl (Carol Kane), a young wife who arrives, speaking only Yiddish, to discover that her husband has reinvented himself as a “Yankee,” complete with a sweatshop job, a brash new girlfriend, and a passion for all things American. Gitl has to reinvent herself, too, in a strange country, but she turns to a scholarly boarder who believes that the old and the new must coexist.

Produced independently when Silver found it impossible to get funding from a major studio for a project helmed by a woman, the film’s critique of mass culture made it relevant in 1974 and keeps it so today.

In English & Yiddish.

Cosponsored with the Jewish Studies Program.​

Watch a trailer & get tickets here:

Time and Place
October 23, 2021, 7:00 pm
Cornell Cinema at Willard Straight Building