It started in a small Russian town, a shetel, called Sadogora. This Ukrainian village had become a hotbed of Jewish tradition. As the melody grew and explanded through the centuries and words were added, it became an instantly recognizable melody - a virtual musical shorthand for anything Jewish. It's a happy party tune, can be danced at for weddings and Bar Mitzvahs and even major league Baseball games. The song conjures up wistful smiles and memories of past generations, complete with eye rolling. Sometimes, it's the song you love to hate because it reminds you of Aunt Minnie pinching your cheek at your Bar Mitzvah.
Just humming the song makes you feel better. You almost want to get up and dance the Hora (now associated with the song.)
Hava Nagila, the song, however is much more than that and Hava Nagila, the movie, tells the history of the song and its creation from the Eastern European Pale of Settlement to the kibbutzim of Palestine, to the cul-de-sac of America and finally to its world wide acceptance. Included in the repertoire of such notables as Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis, Glen Campbell, Leonard Nimroy, Dick Dale, Bob Dylan, and Regina Spektor, the song has graced many a stage and even more records and CDs not to mention a variety of films.
Told with humor and touching depth, the moving story of the song's creation and ultimate success of this cultural icon. In the hour and a half, you will go through Jewish history and culture from then to now. The story is 73 minutes of joy, despair and then joy again.
Already the film has garnered several awards from various Jewish film festivals.
The resulting film, produced and directed by Roberta Grossman; written and produced by Sophie Sartain and produced by Marta Kauffman (creator of the show Friends) was executive produced by Lisa Thomas and edited by Chris Callister.
Roberta Grossman, the award winning filmmaker, has a passion for history and social justice. Her last film Blessed Is The Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh, won 13 film festivals and was aired on PBS. She was also the co-writer of 500 Nations, the CBS mini series on Native Americans hosted by Kevin Costner.
While Sophie Sartain, an award winning writer for print, film television and digital media, is the director of development for Katahdin Productions, one of the production companies on the film. More Horses Production also participated in the film.
The film will open in NYC at Lincoln Plaza on March 1, 2013 and in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Irvine and Palm Springs on March 15, 2013.
For more information go to www.havanagilamovie.com/press