The Yellow Ticket

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The classic silent film “The Yellow Ticket” will be screened to a live performance of a new original music score by Klezmer stars Alicia Svigals and Marilyn Lerner. This promises to be an exceptional event.  The film, produced in 1918 by Templehof Studios in Berlin, was originally released as “Der Gelbe Schein” (The Devil’s Pawn).  It stars a young Pola Negri as she was climbing her way from the stages of Warsaw to Hollywood and international stardom.  It tells the story of a Lea, young Jewish woman who aspires to study medicine at the academy in St. Petersburg.  The film sensitively portrays the anti-semitism prevalent in Russia, which forces Lea to take on a “yellow ticket” – the only document that would allow her, as a Jew and a woman, to reside in St. Petersburg.  The “yellow ticket” designated the bearer as a prostitute.

The subject matter of the film is remarkably progressive for the time period, serving as a reminder of how dramatically prevalent attitudes, such as racial prejudice, can shift with political regimes.  The Templehof production was shot entirely in German occupied Warsaw near the end of the First World War, including the Jewish neighbourhood of Nalewki.  This area of the city would later become part of the Warsaw ghetto, established and then destroyed by Nazi Germany along with all of its inhabitants during the Second World War.  Hitler ordered all copies of the film to be destroyed but one survived in Holland and was recently restored by Kevin Brownlow.  This is the version of the film that will be shown with remade English intertitles.

Alicia Svigals, an accomplished Klezmer violinist based in New York and co-founder of the “Klezmatics”, was commissioned in 2013 to write a new musical score for the film by the Foundation for Jewish Culture.   Svigals along with jazz pianist Marilyn Lerner will be performing this score live during the screening.  The performance takes place at Temple Israel on February 10, 2019 at 2pm.

The Yellow Ticket

The Yellow Ticket

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