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FROM SHTETL TO SWING

France, 2005 (MIFF 2006, Backbeat: Music on Film)

Director: Fabienne Rousso-Lenoir

This lively documentary uses pristine archival footage to portray an ebullient story of musical metamorphosis - from the synagogue choirs of darkest Russia to Harlem hotspots, Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and eventually the bright lights of Hollywood.
Some 2.5 million Jews fled persecution in Russia and Eastern Europe between 1880 and 1924, migrating to the USA and landing en masse in New York City's Lower East Side. This rich cultural blend gave rise to the cross-pollination of Jewish and Black music - two traditions born out of exile and longing, both charged with boundless energy and humour, defying all the rules and blessed with astonishing tonal freedom. Together, they gave birth to a completely new musical lexicon.
Blending their Yiddish musical heritage with Negro rhythms were cultural pioneers such as Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Larry Hart, Benny Goodman, Al Jolson, the Marx Brothers, Fanny Brice, Eddie Cantor, Artie Shaw and the Barry Sisters. They gave voice to the cultural melting pot that was 20th century America.

D Fabienne Rousso-Lenoir P Olivier Mille WS Artline Films Paris France TD video/2005/56mins

Fabienne Rousso-Lenoir was born in France. Her films include Zahor (1996, short).

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