Eye on Arts:
A HAUNTING LOVE STORY
Billed as the first and only Yiddish film produced in Canada, The Pin is a “haunting love story” about two young adults hiding in a barn in Lithuania during WWII. Filmmaker Naomi Jaye didn’t know a word of Yiddish – and neither did most of the cast – before making this slow-placed Holocaust feature, which was shot in and around Hamilton, Ont. The actors took months of intensive language lessons before memorizing the script, which had been translated from English by Gloria Brumer, a professor of Yiddish at York University.
The film’s spoken Yiddish is apparently good enough to fool even a maven such as Sol Hermelin, longtime head of Toronto’s Yiddish Vinkl. “I thought it was really well done,” Hermelin told the Times of Israel. “I thought the actors had Yiddish backgrounds. I only found out that they didn’t after I saw the film.”
The Pin was screened with subtitles at the recent Cannes Film Festival and has gone into international release. It opened this past week at Toronto’s Canada Square Cinema, 2190 Yonge St.
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Pinchas Gutter at Habonim: Lodz-born Holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter lived through the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and Majdanek Concentration Camp, where his entire family was murdered. Today a Holocaust speaker and singer of chassidic songs, he is the subject of a new film, Political Polish Jew: The Story of Pinchas Gutter.
Directed by Zvike Nevo, the film makes its world premiere this month at Toronto’s Congregation Habonim with Gutter in attendance, to be followed by a panel discussion on the collection and preservation of Holocaust survivor testimony. 5 Glen Park Ave., July 20, 7:30 p.m.
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Fringe Festival: “Don’t just stand there, see some theatre!” is the encouraging slogan of the Toronto Fringe Theatre Festival, which offers 150 shows at $12 a ticket ($10 at the door) in venues around Toronto from July 2 to 13.
Pieces includes A Simple Twist of Faith, a piece by Evan Malach and Rafe Malach about a Jewish American soldier in Germany in 1917, performed by Adam Jesin and Evan Malach (with audience participation) in the Kiever Synagogue, 25 Bellevue Ave., almost daily throughout the festival.
Or you might wish to try She’s Black, He’s Jewish, They’re Married, Oy Vey! a “raunchy yet heartwarming” comedy and love story by Steve Epstein and Nai’mah Hassan. The many other offerings include nine that are being performed in the Al Green Theatre, Miles Nadal JCC. See the full schedule at fringetoronto.com
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Names in the News: Soulpepper Theatre Company’s production of Vern Thiessen’s adaptation of Of Human Bondage swept the 2014 Dora Mavor Moore Awards, winning for outstanding production, outstanding new play, outstanding direction (Albert Schultz), outstanding performance (ensemble) and outstanding scenic design, costume design and sound design/composition. That’s a remarkable coup for Soulpepper, Schultz and Thiessen. The latter was last in these pages some years ago after winning the Canadian Jewish Playwriting contest for his play Einstein’s Gift – which also went on to win the Governor General’s Award for drama. The awards ceremony took place in Toronto on June 23. (Currently on stage at Soulpepper: Twelve Angry Men, the jury-deliberation drama by Reginald Rose. soulpepper.ca)
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Toronto Jewish Heritage: Heritage Toronto is preparing to put a plaque commemorating the Jewish heritage of Cecil Street outside the Cecil Street Community Centre. The plaque remembers the once-vital Jewish life of the street, which was once home to the Ostrovtzer Synagogue, the Folks Farein, the Jewish Old Folks Home, the Farband and other community organizations. The ceremony takes place at 58 Cecil St. (east of Spadina) on July 9, 6 p.m. and is followed by a “Sense of Spadina” walking tour led by the Ontario Jewish Archives. The public is invited. Please RSVP at heritagetoronto.org