Film Series: The Komediant
Gotta be Happy” – Yiddish humor in America
7:00pm for 7:15pm
The Komediant (2004, 85 Minutes)
Arnon Goldfinger’s The Komediant seemingly unearths lost chapters in New York’s cultural past. This is the story of the Burstein family, leading figures in the city’s Golden Era of Yiddish theatre. Goldfinger’s use of archival footage is both playful and mournful, revealing an East Village that was once predominantly Jewish. Pesach’ke Burstein came to the United States to pursue his dream of acting, channeling his Orthodox parents’ disdain for his craft into his popular opera “The Village Wedding.” Pesach’ke’s wife, the beautiful and spry Lillian Lux, hauntingly recalls their ironic escape from German-occupied Poland and their rising popularity on the Yiddish stage. A tearful Lillian recalls a fan’s revelation that many Jews went to the gas chamber while singing segments from “The Village Wedding.” However, underground the Bursteins may have been, their presence on the Yiddish stage became a testament to Jewish perseverance. The film is also concerned with the constrictive hold the theater had on the Burstein family. Goldfinger expertly explores the hostility that tore a family apart when their jobs forced them into close corners. Pesache’ke remains a rather elusive figure though something fascinatingly akin to a product of myth thanks to Goldfinger’s bittersweet use of archival footage.
Shahar Burla will introduce the film.
7 Ocean Street
Woollahra, NSW 2025