Female Filmmaker Friday: Hester Street, 1975 (dir. Joan Micklin Silver)

Firstly, apologies for the unintended hiatus of this feature. It should be back in full force for the rest of the year. This week I’m going to take a brief look at Joan Micklin Silver’s Hester Street, which earned Carol Kane a Best Actress Oscar nomination in 1975.

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This is an interesting film for many reasons. One, it’s written and directed by Joan Micklin Silver, a rarity for 1975. This was her debut and is one of the most impressive debuts I’ve ever seen. It was also an independent feature (shot in black and white), yet somehow became a large hit, earning $5mil at the box office and an Oscar nod for its lead. The story is based on a novella from 1896 (the year the film is set) and all the action takes place amongst Jewish immigrants living on Hester Street in New York City. I don’t know enough about Jewish culture to comment on everything this film is saying, but it’s main idea about the struggle to assimilate, yet keep your own tradition I think is a timeless American story. Carol Kane plays Gitl, the wife of an immigrant (a brilliant Steven Keats) who had come from Russia years earlier. When he finally sends for his wife and child, he is impatient with his wife’s ability to adjust to being “American” (and he can’t quite leave his mistress). I don’t want to spoil the rest of the film, but I will say Gitl is one of the greatest lady characters I’ve come across in ages. She’s everything you want in a female lead; strong, brittle, vulnerable, smart, angry, caring, vindictive, and then some. This is a must watch for pretty much any film fan. Below I’m going to share some of my favorite shots from the film.

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About cinemafanatic

Cinephile to the max.

Posted on September 5, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

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