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April 11, 2003 - Image 96

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-04-11

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


Arts Si

Jewish Film Festival

`Esther Kahn'


sh Film Festival


14 Mile and Haggerty Rds.
Commerce Township

603 E. Liberty St.
Ann Arbor

Sunday, April 27
The IComediant-
liast Dance
Esther Kahn
The Sky Is Falling

Sunday, May 4
God Is Great, nn Not

Monday, April 28
Bronstein's Children
Leo and Claire

12:30 p.m.
3 p.m.
5 p.m.
8 p.m.

5 p.m.
8 p.m.

Tuesday, April 29
My Dear Clara and
2 p.m.
Choosing Exile
The Last Jewish Town and
5 p.m.
Salaam Shalom
8 p.m.
Ruthie and Connie


Wednesday, April 30
Israel in a Time of Terror and
A Bomb in the Basement 5 p.m.
8 p.m. an
10 p.m.
Thursday, May 1
2 p.m.
A Tickle in the Heart
5 p.m.
The White Rose
8 p.m.
God Is Great, I'm Not

Saturday, May 3
The Burial Society
Missing You
and Execution

9:45 p.m.

Sunday, May 4
Tikkun and
Company Jasmine
The Last Letter
Th2 Alive and I Love You
Gloomy Sunday

12:30 p.m.
3 p.m.
5 p. m .
8 p.m.

Monday, May 5
Skating Through the Sand and
5 p.m.
The Holy Cup
8 p.m.
A &umpet in the Wadi

Tuesday, May 6
Strange Fruit and
Keep on Walkin'
Monsieur Batignole



5 p.m.
8 p.m.

Monday, May 5
The Last Letter
The Sky Is Falling

5 p.m.
8 p.m.

Tuesday, May 6
Israel in a Time of Terror and
A Bomb in the Basement 5 p.m.
Skating Through the Sand and
8 p.m.
The Holy Cup

Wednesday, May 7
Gloomy Sunday

5 p.m.
8 p.m.

Thursday, May 8
The White Rose
Nowhere in Africa

5 p.m.
8 p.m.

211 S. Old Woodward

Tuesday, April 29
Monsieur Batignole
Gloomy Sunday

5 p.m.
8 p.m.

Wednesday, April 30
A Trumpet in the Wadi
God Is Great, I'm Not

5 p.m.
8 p.m.

Thursday, May 1
Rosenzweig's Freedon
The Sky Is Falling

5 p.m.
8 p.m.

300 Oullette Ave.

Thursday, May 1
A Trumpet in the Wadi
The Burial Society

5 p.m.
8 p.m.


1944, the family consisted of cultural
even minutes into Summer
who celebrated the holidays but
Phoenix's audition for
— about an 1890s Jew who wants did not attend synagogue.
In 1968, Arlyn, weary of her con-
to become an actress — director Arnaud
ventional secretarial job, left her Jewish
Desplechin hastily left the room.
neighborhood, according to Us maga-
"The casting directors were like,
hitching west, she was picked up
`OK, thank you,'" recalls the exuber-
by John Bottom, the lapsed Catholic
ant, almond-eyed Phoenix, sister to
who would become Phoenix's father.
actors Joaquin and the late River.
Summer, the youngest of their five
"I walked away, but then I just start-
was born after the family
ed sobbing and I ran back up the
Christian cult
stairs. I cried, 'Esther Kahn
and moved in with Arlyn's parents in
I've been waiting for. This can't be my
last chance."
During her unconventional child-
Which is when the casting directors
Summer-traveled the country
explained the bizarre reason for
Desplechin's hasty exit: Phoenix
looked exactly like the London
Jewish immigrant he'd envisioned
as his heroine. Her 19th-century
photo hung in his Paris office.
The director hadn't left the room
because he had been disinterested
— he'd run outside to be sick.
'Arnaud is pretty intense," con-
cedes Phoenix, who nevertheless
had to prove herself in three more
grueling auditions before landing
the role in Desplechin's moody,
slow-moving film, which screens
5 p.m. Sunday, April 27, in
Commerce Township.
She'd all but given up hope
when the call came from France
seven months later — in winter
1998 — the same day she learned
Joaquin had been cast in
"Will you be my Esther
"Esther Kahn" A search for identity.
Kahn?" Desplechin said in his
thick French accent. A stunned
Phoenix was on a plane to
in a motor home and, after her fami-
London that night. Five days later,
ly moved to Los Angeles, began per-
production began.
forming on the streets with her sib-
The part was worth the wait. "I'd
lings. She ate strictly vegan food,
fallen in love with Esther," says
starred in TV sitcoms, was home-
Phoenix (The Believer, The Laramie
schooled and in her teens worked in
Project), now 25.
her father's veggie restaurant in
"I identified with her. At the time, I
Costa Rica.
was also an actress who was silently
Her maternal grandparents were a
waiting for my chance. I just needed
solid presence throughout her
an opportunity to prove it, to show it,
nomadic life: "Though my mother
to be it."
became Christian for a time, that
During the exhausting 3 1/2-month
never mattered to them," she says.
shoot, Phoenix drew on her mother's
"While Judaism was important to
Russian-Hungarian Jewish roots to
my grandparents, they were very open-
play Kahn, who toils in her immi-
minded. My grandmother died two
grant family's sweatshop before enter-
months before I went off to make
ing the theater.
Esther Kahn, and I felt like I was really
"The Jewish slum life of London's
doing the movie for her.
East End was not unlike the Lower
"I was just so proud to bring the
East Side in the 1890s," she says.
Jewish part of me out in that film."
By the time Phoenix's mom, Arlyn
— Naomi Pfefferman
Dunetz, was born in the Bronx in

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