In the wake of the excitement from the multi-Oscar winning 2011 highly popular film, The Artist,The Toronto Jewish Film Society offers Hungry Hearts: a silent film restored in 2006 by the trio of The National Centre of Jewish Film at Brandeis University, The Samuel Goldwyn Company and the British Film Institute.
Originally released in 1922, Hungry Hearts is a Hollywood adaptation of short stories by the same name written by the Jewish, Polish-American novelist Anzia Yezierska, who also wrote the screenplay. Yezierska was often called the “Sweatshop Cinderella”. Her semi-autobiographicalstories provide insight into the cost of acculturation and assimilation among Jewish immigrants, particularly Jewish women immigrants.
Hungry Hearts was made on location on the Lower East Side of New York City, it was directed by E. Mason Hopper, produced by Samuel Goldwyn and it starred Bryant Washburn, Helen Ferguson and E. Alyn Warren.
The movie is a gem. It conveys the raw power of the struggle for survival by recently arrived immigrants. This bittersweet classic captures the hopes and hardships of Jewish immigrants in the urban New World in the second decade of the twentieth century. It’s an archival treasure that features amazing on-location footage of life in the 1920s Lower East Side. This is part of the reason why the TJFS chose this movie – for the backdrop of the real city shots in the real city.
We tend to view these old Yiddish films as antiques, museum pieces, relics of a past time. So why should they interest us today? Today, every scrap of footage has to be treated like a precious artifact because they’re the only moving pictures that remain of a once vibrant, engaging and popular culture that was Jewish immigrant life in North America.
Silent films usually had live musical accompaniment. On Sunday April 29, be will be veryfortunate to have Jordan Klapman there in person to accompany the film on the baby grand piano in the Al Green Theatre. Jordan is a multi-talented pianist, accompanist, bandleader, arranger, a lecturer on popular music, and an album producer with more than thirty years’ experience in the field. This is the first time we’ve presented a silent film with live music. Lets hope this trend sticks around, as there are so many wonderful silent movies just waiting to be rediscovered.
Shirley Kumove, Author and Co-Chair of the Toronto Jewish Film Society
Hungry Hearts will be presented by the Toronto Jewish Film Society at the Al Green Theatre on Sunday April 29 at 4:00 pm and 7:30 pm.
Tickets: $15 at the door (no advance tickets, sorry!)
$10 for ages 18 – 35 (7:30 pm show only)