Shttl is unlike anything you have ever seen: a contemporary black-and-white Yiddish language artificial one-shot film made in Ukraine with a crew that, according to the folks at The National Center for Jewish Film’s Annual Film Festival, is now largely fighting in the war over their land. It’s a fascinating film worth checking out, and I doubt there is another film with quite the same chutzpah.
The title, Shttl, comes from the Yiddish word “shtetl,” referring to small, usually Ashkenazi Jewish villages associated with Eastern European Jewry. But it also lacks the “e” in the English translation as a nod to holocaust survivor Georges Perec’s novel La Disparition, in which the letter “e” never appears. The titular town of the movie sits right on the Ukrainian-Polish border just one day before Operation Barbarossa—the Nazi Germany invasion of the Soviet Union and the frenzied murder of Soviet-occupied Jews.
Mendele (Moshe Lobel) returns to his home shtetl from the film studios of Kyiv for the first time in years and finds his destined love Yuna (Anisia Stasevich) engaged to Folya (Antoine Millet). The Yiddish-fluent Hollywood veteran Saul Rubinek (this year’s BlackBerry, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Warehouse 13) plays Yuna’s father, the small town’s rabbi. Even he knows Mendele is the better pick than Folya… but the latter never left home, and that’s important to the community and thus to the ministerial keeper of the community.
Continue reading at the Boston Hassle.