Related Blog Posts on Arts and Culture

Film Review: Babi Yar. Context Examines Ukraine’s Past as It Fights for Its Future

Wes Hopper
In Sergie Loznitsa’s new documentary film, Babi Yar. Context, the decade spanning the Nazi invasion of Ukraine through the ensuing war crimes trial is explored using only archival footage and the occasional title card. Babi Yar (Babyn Yar) is a ravine outside the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv where on September 29-30, 1941, the Nazi Regime massacred an estimated 33,771 Jewish people. The result is a stark, uncompromising exploration of war and genocide that enlists the viewer in bearing witness to one of history’s most notorious atrocities. 

Prayer for the French Republic

Wes Hopper
On the face of things, Prayer for the French Republic, a new play by Joshua Harmon, is about several generations of a French-Jewish family living in Paris and contemplating whether they're still safe in the country they call home. In actuality, it is a discomfiting examination of the state of the Jewish diaspora.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Returns Sharper and Funnier Than Ever

Wes Hopper
The first episode of the new season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel starts out with a single word, "Revenge!" As the show slowly makes clear, this isn't just revenge against Shy Baldwin, the singer and entertainer who left Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) stranded on the tarmac as he took flight to Europe without her.

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

Wes Hopper
First published as a novel in 1962 and adapted into a film by the same name released in 1970, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis has had remarkable staying power. Its author, the late Giorgio Bassani, has two archives and study centers dedicated to him in Italy and major new English translations of his work have come out in recent years.

Film Review: Breaking Bread

Wes Hopper
It's rare to find a documentary set in the Middle East that isn't mired in politics and discord. Rarer still is one bathed in the kind of optimism and goodwill found in Beth Elise Hawk's new film, Breaking Bread. An inside look at a three-day food festival in Haifa, Israel, pairing Israeli and Muslim Arab chefs, Breaking Bread pursues peace through the power of creating top-notch cuisine.

Best Jewish Films of 2021

Wes Hopper
As 2021 draws to a close, it's a good time to reflect on the year in Jewish film and highlight six worthy of your attention. Two of the films here are from first-time filmmakers, another pair are Holocaust documentaries, and the final duo draw their tales from the past. Here is my list of the best Jewish films released in the U.S. in 2021.

Becoming Dr. Ruth

Wes Hopper
"Becoming Dr. Ruth" carefully and quite literally unpacks the turbulent early years of Dr. Ruth Westheimer -- Holocaust survivor, single mother, and eventual superstar sex therapist. At the same time, this one-woman show starring Tovah Feldshuh celebrates the possibilities of America, while never quite letting go of the past.

Film Review: Love It Was Not

Wes Hopper
Fresh off a nomination for best documentary at the Ophir Awards, the Israeli equivalent of the Oscars, Maya Sarfaty's new film, Love It Was Not, brings to American audiences the real-life tale of a love affair between a Jewish prisoner and her Nazi SS officer.