A worthy companion to Max Lewkowicz’s Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles, the 2019 documentary that placed the origins of the 1964 Broadway play into historical context. Picking up where Lewkowicz left off, Daniel Raims’ expedition carries us from stage to cinema. The film version was directed by Norman Jewison who, oddly enough, doesn’t live up to his last name. During his job interview, Jewison asked United Artists head honcho Arthur Krim, ”What would you do if I told you I’m a goy?” “What does that matter,” Krim calmly replied. “We don’t want a 2nd Avenue Yiddish production. We want a film for everybody.” Good answer! Much of the fun is purely anecdotal. Three of the five actresses who played Tevye’s daughters reminisce and did you know that both Danny Kaye and Hollywood’s favorite landsman Frank Sinatravitz, expressed interest in the lead? Jewison wanted to “universalize the story,” and his vision had no room for Broadway’s most famous Tevye, Zero Mostel, who he saw as too American and more interested in garnering laughs than expressing truth. But the greatest education came from production designer Robert “Apogee” Boyle who had to reconstruct the synagogue from photographs because the Nazis saw to it that the original wooden temples burned to the ground. The Jewish Film Festival free screening will be held on May 17 at 7 pm. (2022) — Scott Marks
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