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Documentary film shown on French TV
Cinétévé / STR France has just released the twenty-six minute documentary film Bienvenue chez Dovid as part of its Visages D’Europe series. The film (available in French and International versions) focuses on the work of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute and its director of research, Professor Dovid Katz. It was shown on French television on May 17. It is directed by Michalle Boganim, a native of Israel and graduate of the National Film and Television Directors School in London, who completed basic filming in Vilnius for the documentary in Dec. 2006. Boganim’s film focuses on Dovid’s “Yiddish circles” in Vilnius (Vilne in Yiddish), ranging from students in their early 20s through to the oldest Jewish survivors who are in their nineties. It includes a trip to Vilkomir (now Ukmerge), with Vilnius resident Hirsh Pekl, a longtime associate of the institute (see on the visit of British linguist David Crystal to the institute).
One of Boganim’s best known earlier films is Odessa, Odessa, which won the best director award at the Jerusalem film festival and the CICAE Prize in Berlin, and was received in the New York Times and Village Voice.
Michalle Boganim writes to the VYI:
“I have dealt a lot with Eastern Europe topics and Jewish culture in my film work. I filmed and recorded elderly people in Odessa, Russian immigrants in the American Little Odessa and also in various parts of Israel. While working I heard a lot the name of Dovid Katz and the Vilnius Yiddish Institute. I had met and worked with a few of his past students including Amelia Glaser (USA), Jeremy Grant (UK) and Delphine Bechtel (France). At some point, they all trained with Dovid at the Yiddish Vilnius institute’s courses, or in earlier years at its antecedent in Oxford, England. My experience went far beyond my expectation. I saw him working with a lot of passion and totally devoted to his work. Thanks to Dovid I was able to meet great characters for the film, who showed me places and told me their stories in Yiddish. The closeness he maintains with the elderly generation is extraordinary and thanks to this relationship he has collected a Yiddish that is vivid and alive and that the Vilnius Yiddish Institute transmits “in real time” to students and to all the people who are interested in one way or another in Yiddish language and culture in the deeper sense.” — Michalle Boganim