Isle of Klezbos

Yiddish Celluloid Closet

Yiddish cinema as you've never seen it, plus Metropolitan Klezmer's loving and live reinterpretations of movie music from the vintage soundtracks, from tango to tragic lullaby to tenement wedding dance. Drummer/leader Eve Sicular has toured her Yiddish Celluloid Closet film-clips lecture throughout North America and Europe. Now her eight-piece band joins the show for a multimedia retro treat in a fully 21st century approach to the archives. Screen excerpts and lush new arrangements include classics and lesser-known gems from The Dybbuk, Mamele, Uncle Moses, and many more, including rarities such as newsreel from the Moscow Soviet Yiddish Theater. Read the full description.

Isle of Klezbos: Yiddish Celluloid Closet - Molly Picon, 1937

Image name: Molly1937
file size: 1.1 MB
Molly Picon still, 1937
photo credit: Courtesy of YIVO Archives

Isle of Klezbos: Yiddish Celluloid Closet - Molly Picon, 1982

Image name: Molly1982
file size: 1.3 MB
Molly Picon, 1982
photo credit: Courtesy of YIVO Archives

Press Quotes

Gregg Bordowitz

Eve Sicular's presentation is a well-researched and entertaining inquiry into the relation between ethnic identity and sexual identity. It is a great contribution to both cultural studies and cinema studies, in the finest tradition of Vito Russo's school of film appreciation.

Sarah Kay
Director of Community Programs (JCC Works and LGBTQ)
The JCC in Manhattan
Eve Sicular’s Opus, the Yiddish Celluloid Closet, is a rainbow quilt of all these discrete, but connected Jewish identities. Eve’s talk, and the musical accompaniment mirrors, in microcosm, all the ways in which the celluloid closet has changed. It’s not a closet anymore- it’s a stage, a platform. A platform for LGBTQ identity to be explored and celebrated.
The JCC held the first ever Faigele Film Festival last June, and the Yiddish Celluloid Closet was our grand finale. We were honored and thrilled to end our festival with such a special, dynamic evening which skillfully outlines perhaps the earliest winkings at the Queer-Jewish genre. The day the festival ended, I read that “in a figurative way, Yiddish is the wise and humble language of us all, the idiom of a frightened and hopeful humanity." The JCC was excited that Yiddish was the language of our Faigele Film Festival’s final event. And the very brilliant Eve Sicular was a wonderful translator.”

Double Identity:
George Robinson
Special To The Jewish Week

Eve Sicular explores the gay/lesbian subtext of some Yiddish films

Marya Slater
The Village Temple, NYC

Thanks again so much for a great presentation last night! It was a pleasure to work with you and a pleasure to get to hear/see your presentation!

Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz
Bridgeport CT

On behalf of Kulanu at Congregation B'nai Israel, we are most grateful for sharing this enjoyable and fascinating presentation with us.

Richard Gehr
Village Voice

The delightfully rambunctious local klezmer octet inventively mixes Yiddish media at a show titled Music From the Celluloid Yiddish Closet: Outing the Archives, which combines film clips such as the 1937 Polish hit Der Dybuk and Edgar G. Ulmer's C-movie classic, Americaner Shadkhn [American Matchmaker].

Irena Klepfisz

Eve Sicular’s imaginative decoding and highlighting of lesbian and gay elements demonstrate how Yiddish films can be viewed simultaneously through the eyes of the original audience and through the eyes of our own generation. With sharp analysis and wit, she evokes a Yiddish past more complex, more realistic, more freylekh than I’ve ever seen it. A provocative presentation.

Eve Sicular is quoted in a piece on Queer Yiddishkeit from The Jewish Daily Forward, which mentions the Yiddish Celluloid Closet project in its summary (the Molly Picon drag references are slightly misconstrued).
Read “And the Award Goes to... Queer Yiddishkeit -”

Venues and Anthology publications, to 1994