Films in the Judeo-Spanish Language Week online festival:

Las Ultimas Palavras (2015) | Rita Ender and Yorgos Demir

Las Ultimas Palavras is a film about Judeo-Spanish’s current use among young Turkish Jews. The documentary focuses on 19 young Turkish Jews (ages 25-35) who were asked which Judeo-Spanish words they know; it will explore the reasons behind the death of a language that continues to exist primarily through song and cuisine. The documentary also reviews why the native language of many older community members can no longer be learned, the role of the language today, Jewish identity and the sense of belonging from the younger generation’s perspective.

It Never Rained on Rhodes (2014) | Barry Salzman

It Never Rained on Rhodes explores the loss of place, heritage, history, community, family and cultural identity. Through the lens of the last surviving Rhodesli Jews, including some who survived Auschwitz, and their descendants, the film considers fragmentation of life and community. The island becomes a metaphor for any place the viewer imagines it to be and the losses expressed by those in the film becomes the losses experienced by the audience. It is a multi-part installation project that explores collective narrative and the impact of a society’s destruction on memory and nostalgia.

Saved by Language (2014) | Susanna Zaraysky & Bryan Kirschen

Saved by Language tells the story of Moris Albahari, a Sephardic Jew from Sarajevo (born 1930), who spoke Djidió, his mother tongue, to survive the Holocaust. Moris used Judeo-Spanish to communicate with an Italian Colonel who helped him escape to a Partizan refuge after he ran away from the train taking Yugoslavian Jews to Nazi death camps. Additionally, by speaking in Judeo-Spanish to a Spanish-speaking US pilot in 1944 he was able to survive and lead the pilot, along with his American and British colleagues, to a safe Partizan airport. Join Moris as he reflects on his childhood and reunites with the last remaining speakers of Judeo-Spanish in Sarajevo today.

Once Upon a Time at 55th and Hoover (2013) | Andrés Enrique-Arias (to appear online as of Feb. 23)

Once Upon a Time at 55th and Hoover tells the story of the Sephardic Jews from the island of Rhodes who arrived in Los Angeles in the first half of the 20th century and established a community in the area around 55th st and Hoover, what is today South Central Los Angeles. Through compelling interviews with two immigrants born in Rhodes and one second generation Rhodesli who grew up in the area we learn how the Sephardim of Rhodes, as all immigrants of that era, were torn between assimilating into mainstream American culture and maintaining their identity. The film is also a valuable historical document: filled with seldom seen movie footage and previously unpublished archival photographs it brings to life a little known aspect of the history of Los Angeles.

We will also feature an online audio project:

KHOYA: Jewish Morocco Sound Archive  (2015) | Vanessa Paloma Elbaz

KHOYA is a repository for the music and oral histories of Jewish Morocco based in Casablanca. It is structured in two sections: 1. Judeo-Moroccan music: commercial and field-recordings from sacred and secular repertoires of the Jews of Morocco and 2. Oral Histories: a collection of oral histories collected throughout Morocco about present and past facets of Jewish life as well as individual oral histories thus providing micro-histories within the general community. With the dwindling numbers of the Jewish population of Morocco since the 1950s, what was once one of the largest communities in the world has reached a small percentage of its original number. The Sound Archive aims to provide accessibility to a wide range of Jewish sounds and memories into the future.



This site is maintained by co-producer of Saved by Language, Bryan Kirschen