Jews are Clever, Make Different Movies

Brazil is not only home to the Jules Rimet trophy, Copacabana beach, Carnaval and the frighteningly militarized favelas portrayed in “City of God,” it’s also the location of an old and respected Yiddish community. Now Jose de Abreu is making a Yiddish-speaking film — “Where Pigs Eat Oranges” — about Jewish immigration from Czarist Russia (Bessarabia) to Brazil, in 1904. Supported by the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA), Jewish immigrants founded the first organized agricultural colony in Brazil, called Philippson Colony (in the Brazilian pampa). The film takes its name from a phrase in a JCA pamphlet encouraging immigration.

It’s written by Marcos Bernstein who wrote the screenplay for “Central Station” — the poignant 1998 film nominated for an Oscar. At $10m, the budget is extensive by Brazilian standards, and includes building a shtetl in Paulinia-Sao Paulo State, and the Philippson Colony will be shot where things really happened, in a farm in Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul State. All he needs now are some Yiddish-speaking children to film next year!

Meanwhile, in Turkey, Selim Çiprut has already made his film “Süpürrr!” (”SweePPP!”) about, of all things, curling. You know, men with brushes skating very slowly down a strip of ice trying to encourage large chunks of stone to end up close to each other: aka Canada’s second national sport. The film will be released December 18 in Turkey and thereafter on DVD with English subtitles in February.

Selim did not refer to “Cool Runnings” — the film about a Jamaican bobsled team — but, until the DVD comes out I’m imagining that a Turkish film about curling may be going for that same counter-intuitive cute niche. When asked why on earth a Turkish Jewish filmmaker would make a film about curling, Selim replied: “Turkish Jews make curling movies, because we like to create something extraordinary, like curling. Jews are clever, make different movies.”

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