Now Magazine

September 2, 2010

Rating: NNNN (out of five)

Song of the Lodz Ghetto:
by Norman Wilner

The 15th Ashkenaz Festival got under way earlier this week at Harbourfront Centre, but the treasure of its film component plays tonight at the Sheppard Grande. It’s the world premiere of Song of the Lodz Ghetto, a “documentary program” by David Kaufman that pays tribute to the resilience of the Jewish residents of the infamous Polish ghetto through the music they composed to spite the Nazis.

That music was ultimately recorded as an album by the jazz-klezmer band Brave Old World, and concert footage of them performing a dozen or so songs – in the original Yiddish – gives Kaufman’s doc its spine. Interviews with survivors and historians, illustrated with archival photographs, fill in the larger historical context of upbeat-sounding numbers with lines like “We must not be silent / It’s better to break windows.”

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