New Films Added to the Jewish Homegrown History Mix

Just nine days until Jewish Homegrown History closes! And now’s a great time to come back or see the exhibition for the first time. Three recently remixed and newly added films are now on view, thanks to The Labyrinth Project team that created the installation. These new home movies came to Labyrinth’s attention through contacts made at our Home Movie Day at the Skirball in the spring.

Here’s a quick rundown and a few screengrabs of the new films:

FAMILY SECRETS: EVADING HISTORICAL TRAUMA
Peter Vanlaw did not discover that he and his German émigré family were Jewish until he had a heart attack in his fifties. His story is driven by unsolved mysteries concerning his grandmother’s suicide, his mother’s mental breakdown, and his father’s repeated attempts to escape family history. Combining melodrama and historical trauma, this story supports scholar Michele Citron’s claim that “home movies were powerful and necessary fictions that allowed us to see and explore truths that could only be looked at obliquely.” Edited by Daniel Bydlowski.

 In 1929, Peter Vanlaw’s parents, Kurt Weinlaub and Lilly Rayfish, were newlyweds enjoying their prosperity at the Winston apartments in Hollywood, but then came the Stock Market Crash that seriously rocked their world.

In 1929, Peter Vanlaw’s parents, Kurt Weinlaub and Lilly Rayfish, were newlyweds enjoying their prosperity at the Winston apartments in Hollywood, but then came the Stock Market Crash that seriously rocked their world.


MIGRATING MIDWESTERNERS: FROM THE WINDY CITY TO SUNNY L.A.

According to historian Deborah Dash Moore, “Midwestern Jews more often migrated to Los Angeles than did their northeastern relatives… and nearly half of all the Midwesterners came from the Windy City.” Pursuing the familiar pattern of “chain migration,” the Lefkowitz family started moving to Los Angeles in 1936, with others following in the 1940s. Back in Chicago, they owned the Roseland Radio Repair Shop and lived behind the store, where Caroline Lefkowitz was born. But in Los Angeles they were seeking new opportunities, better weather, and a more relaxing, fun-filled life. As their footage of cars, planes and speedboats clearly shows, they loved being on the move.  Edited by Daniel R. Rabins.

At Lake Arrowhead in 1944, the California snow became a playground for the Lefkowitz family instead of a dreary Chicago chore. Carol Lefkowitz, who supplied these home movies, is a Skirball docent, by the way!

At Lake Arrowhead in 1944, the California snow became a playground for the Lefkowitz family instead of a dreary Chicago chore. Carol Lefkowitz, who supplied these home movies, is a Skirball docent, by the way!


IRANIAN JEWS IN EXILE: FROM TEHRAN TO L.A.

“Before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the number of Iranian Jews in the Los Angeles area was in the hundreds. By 1990 the community claimed nearly 30,000 people, or more than a third of the pre-revolutionary Jewish population of Iran.” Featuring the home movies of Parviz Elison and interviews with three Iranian Jewish American women writers—Dora Levy Mossanen, Gina B. Nahai, and Angella M. Nazarian—this homegrown movie explores what is unique about the Iranian Jewish emigration to Los Angeles.  Edited by Daniel Bydlowski.

In the early 1970s, Parviz Elison (shown in the leftmost film still) and his family were living in Tehran.  But when he and his wife divorced in 1977, Parviz emigrated to Los Angeles with his son in an effort to provide for a better education. The Skirball has a special connection with Mr. Elison, too: he’s a beloved member of our security staff!

In the early 1970s, Parviz Elison (shown in the leftmost film still) and his family were living in Tehran. But when he and his wife divorced in 1977, Parviz emigrated to Los Angeles with his son in an effort to provide a better education. The Skirball has a special connection with Mr. Elison, too: he’s a beloved member of our security staff!


Jewish Homegrown History
closes September 2. Make plans to visit soon. You may even run into one of the film’s stars.

Spotted! Modern day home movies stars, Skirball Member Barbara Ehrlichman Manzi and Mr. Elison, visiting the gallery to see themselves on the big screen.

Spotted! Modern day home movies stars, Skirball Member Barbara Ehrlichman Manzi and Skirball Security Staff Mr. Elison, visiting the gallery to see themselves on the big screen. It is wonderful to see the emotion on their faces as they relive these beautiful moments captured so many years ago on film.

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Posted in Behind the Scenes, Exhibitions, Family History, Museum and tagged .

About Mia Cariño

Mia Cariño is Vice President, Communications and Marketing, at the Skirball, which generally means she thinks about words, pictures, the stories they convey, the people to whom to tell them, and what it takes to tell them well. Her daughter, Astrid, is named after Astrid Kirchherr, Astrid Lindgren, and Astrud Gilberto: not a bad trio of women. Mia has lived in Manila, New York, Toronto, Manila, Bryn Mawr, and Philadelphia, and has now lived in Los Angeles longer than she's ever lived anywhere. It's home.

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