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Nurith Aviv, a noted cinematographer (for Agnès Varda, Amos Gitai, and Jean-Marie Teno, among others) and director, often explores issues of language in her own films. Her latest work, Yiddish, shines light on the deep cultural dimensions of a language nearly wiped out in the twentieth century. With roots in German, Hebrew, and Slavic languages, Yiddish is steeped in historical, religious, and cultural qualities that give rise to its wonderfully expressive characteristics. Aviv travels to France, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, and Poland, where she films portraits of seven young scholars. Each is multilingual and has found inspiration in modernist and avant-garde Yiddish poetry written between the world wars by poets such as Celia Dropkin, Moyshe-Leyb Halpern, Anna Margolin, Peretz Markish, Avrom Sutzkever, Debora Vogel, and Yehoyesh. A sensitive, original documentary that elucidates the richness of language, Yiddish opens a window on a larger field of comparative literature.

—Susan Oxtoby

  • Year
  • Runtime
    61 minutes
  • Language
    French, English, Hebrew, Yiddish
  • Country
    France, Israel
  • Director
    Nurith Aviv
  • Screenwriter
    Nurith Aviv, Michèle Sinapi
  • Cinematographer
    Cédric Dupire