Dir. Joan Micklin Silver (90min, USA, 1975)
Yiddish and English with English Subtitles
WJFF CENTERPIECE EVENING AND VISIONARY AWARD SPONSORED BY
LOUIE AND RALPH DWECK
Joan Micklin Silver’s humorous and poignant movie focuses on a traditional Jewish woman (Carol Kane) who arrives with her son to America in the 1890s, only to discover that her cheating husband has assimilated and resents his wife’s old-fashioned ways.
In an Oscar-nominated performance, Kane overcomes her heartbreak by adapting to the new land. This groundbreaking independent film tells a heartfelt immigration tale full of Yiddish sentiment and culture and paints a wonderfully vibrant picture of the Lower East Side.
Film selected and synopsis written by Aviva Kempner, WJFF Founder and Director from 1990-1993.
Carol Kane first appeared on screen in seminal films of the 1970s: Carnal Knowledge, Dog Day Afternoon and Annie Hall. Her breakout role in Hester Street, netted an Oscar Nomination for Best Actress. Her role as Simka Dahblitz-Gravas on television’s Taxi earned her two Emmy Awards. First and foremost a stage actress, she is well-loved for her portrayal of Madame Morrible in Broadway’s Wicked (2005-2009). Among other projects, she is currently on the hit TV series Gotham.
Joan Micklin Silver established herself as one of the country’s premier independent film directors with the release of Hester Street. She went on to direct many critically acclaimed box office successes such as Between The Lines and Crossing Delancey. She also conceived and directed the musical revue A…My Name Is Alice with Julianne Boyd.
Born and raised in the Midwest, Silver graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and soon married. In 1967, she and her family moved from Ohio to NYC where she began her career writing educational films. Producer Linda Gottlieb hired Silver to work on the script about the wives of prisoners-of-war during the Vietnam era. The result Limbo (1972) was a modest feature, one of the first to confront repercussions of an unpopular war, but its overt melodrama undercut its intensity. Attempting to move behind the camera, Silver ran up against rejection; it was virtually unheard of a female working as a Hollywood director in the early 1970s. With her husband Raphael, Silver formed Midwest Film Productions. Her maiden effort behind the camera was the keenly observed immigrant tale, Hester Street (1975). Made for under $400,000 and rejected by distributors, the black-and-white feature was eventually released by Raphael Silver and earned $5 million as well as a Best Actress Oscar nomination for Carol Kane. (Bio courtesy of TCM)