Manhattan’s Lower East Side, 1896: Eastern Europeans have emigrated from the Old Country to settle into a new life among the largest Jewish population in the U.S. This sets the scene for Abraham Cahan’s novella Yekl, and became the story that would inspire Joan Micklin Silver to embark on her filmmaking debut. Silver’s extremely personal first film, which she was told was too niche for mass appeal, in fact portrays a universal story about identity, belonging, and the strengths it takes to find yourself in new world. Added to the National Film Registry in 2011, Hester Street also brought Carol Kane into the public consciousness in her role as Gitl, her performance leading to an Oscar nomination.
35mm, b/w, sound, partially in Yiddish w/ English subtitles, 90 min. Dir. Joan Micklin Silver. Production: Midwest Film Productions, Inc. Distribution: Westchester Films. Producer: Raphael D. Silver. Based on the novella by Abraham Cahan. Screenwriter: Joan Micklin Silver. Cinematographer: Ken Van Sickle. Production Design: Stuart Wurtzel. Editor: Katherine Wenning. Composer: William Bolcom. With: Steven Keats, Carol Kane, Mel Howard, Dorrie Kavanaugh, Doris Roberts.