Moving Jewish Film (Hi)stories Between Europe and Latin America

September 19, 2022 at 8:00 am - September 21, 2022 at 5:00 pm EDT

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Moving Jewish Film (Hi)stories Between Europe and Latin America

September 19, 2022 at 8:00 am September 21, 2022 at 5:00 pm Germany/Potsdam

Jewish culture and history exist in continuous movements, temporary locations, and frequent transits. Multilingualism is as much part of it as the experience of migration. While Jews emigrated from Spain and Portugal to Central and South Americas early as the fifteenth century escaping the Spanish Inquisition, mass emigration waves occurred some three hundred years later. In the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century exposed to anti-Semitic pogroms, suffering poverty and starvation, Jewish communities formerly situated in Central Europe decided to look for new opportunities in the South. Undeniably the biggest threat to European Jewry was National Socialism. Persecuted by the Nazi regime, they arrived in Latin American countries in great numbers from the 1920s onwards. Well educated, creative, politically outspoken, impoverished, and traumatized, the newly arrived immigrants became an important part of local cultures and communities. These dynamics were disrupted yet again in the wake of dictatorships in the 1970s and 1980s in Latin America: Alongside others who had to flee political and cultural repression, many Jewish intellectuals and artists returned to Europe.

Oscillating around the numerous stops between the two continents, film is an important medium that gives expression to Jewish life, memories and experiences of migration, trauma, resistance, and resilience. In Argentina or Mexico, artists whose parents sought refuge from the calamities of the Holocaust redrew their family’s movements inspired by objects, photos, stories, or songs. Utilizing experimental, narrative and documentary formats, Jewish filmmakers investigate the legacy of Nazism and link traumas of the Holocaust and of repressive regimes across space and time. Filmmakers for who Jewishness involves making real and imaginary connections between Europe and Latin America include Narcisa Hirsch, Daniel Burman, Ariel and Rodrigo Dorfman, Alejandro Springall, and Guita Schyfter. Directors such as Peter Lilienthal, Jeanine Meerapfel or Alejandro Jodorowsky, who were born or grew up in Uruguay, Argentina, or Chile, have become mediators of a transnational film culture in Europe.

Within a growing body of projects and publications that conceptualizes Jewish Latin American cinema, our project zooms in on Jewish filmmaking that bridges Latin America with Europe – an important direction that has not been given much scholarly consideration yet. The workshop, to take place in September 2022, aims to map Jewish film as transcultural and cross-continental mediator.

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