Raphael Levy

By the Spring of 2009, after toiling in cinema for many years, I had completed a couple of short films and I worked on the development of a couple of feature length scripts that were honestly going nowhere. In March of that Spring, Ben approached me on behalf of the Segal Centre to come in and film the festival with the primary purpose of creating a video archive for the Centre. At the time, I had little exposure to Yiddish theatre, culture or even an understanding of the historic significance of the festival itself. So, making a film about such a topic was a real unknown at that time and sometimes was considered a second priority. With little money and time to research and prepare, most of the talk of making a documentary film about the festival was based on a hope and prayer.

So, for the weeks leading up to and the 10 days of the festival, I entered the world of Yiddish theatre armed with a borrowed camera and a heck of a lot of energy. What came out of it was, not only, almost 100 hours of footage, but a personally enriching experience that I will undoubtedly remember the rest of my life. During those festive 10 days, I got the chance to witness music and performance and gatherings of people, some twice my age, who would sing and dance Yiddish from morning til night. I never knew such love for one’s culture could exist for so many hours and for so many days. It truly was mesmerizing for me to witness it through the privileged lens of the camera and for this reason, I am truly grateful to Ben and the Segal Centre for inviting me to be a part of it. It truly was a historic event on so many levels.

I hope that you will enjoy the film as much as I enjoyed making it.

Ben Gonshor

As an actor, musician, writer and professional in the performing arts, I’ve had the opportunity to work on many exciting projects, but none has touched me as deeply as the creation of this film.

I am the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, individuals who devoted their lives to all that is Yiddish. I am first generation North American and Yiddish is my mother tongue; its language, culture and history inculcated in me from a very young age. I’m proud to say that I’ve been a lifelong member of Montreal’s Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre and have had the opportunity over many years to share the stage with a rich variety of people devoted to Yiddish theatre and to the world of Yiddish in general. So you could say that creating Mending The Torn Curtain has been a real passion project for me.

When Raphael Levy and I first met our intention was to create a film, limited in scope, to document the historic, first ever Montreal International Yiddish Theatre Festival. But once we realized the richness of the material that we had recorded we knew that there was something more, a broader story that needed to be told. So we undertook to create this documentary, one that we hope you take as much joy in watching as we’ve had in creating it.

Like the world of Yiddish itself in general, Yiddish theatre was once a thriving international phenomenon. Today, however, it is but a small reflection of the glorious past it once had. But, to paraphrase a line from the Yiddish theatre play, On 2nd Avenue, although few marquees remain promoting Yiddish theatre performances a piece of our collective memory was born there and still the melody goes on and on…..