American Jewish Women Film Directors: The Gamechangers in Hollywood
Tuesday, March 10th, 7pm
Trible Library Theater
Although Jewish women have always been part of the American film industry as actresses and screenwriters, their entry into the ranks of directors was belated. Changes in the studio system and shifts in public attitudes towards ethnicity and women’s rights in the 1960s paved the way for the emergence of significant Jewish women directors like Joan Micklin-Silver, Claudia Weill, and Barbra Streisand who brought a distinctly Jewish and feminist perspective to their films. A second generation of Jewish women directors like Amy Heckerling, Susan Seidelman, Nora Ephron, and Nancy Meyers broadened the audience for their films by subordinating Jewishness to the formulas of classic Hollywood genres like comingof age and romantic comedy movies. In the past twenty years, Jewish female directors like Lena Dunham nad Jill Soloway have created Jewish characters who transgress common stereotypes of Jewish religiosity and sexuality. This talk is illustrated with clips from films by a number of these directors.
Lawrence Baron, Professor Emeritus, held the Nasatir Chair of Modern Jewish History at San Diego State University from 1988 until 2012 and directed its Jewish Studies Program until 2006. He received his Ph.D. in modern European cultural and intellectual history from the University of Wisconsin where he studied with George L. Mosse. He taught at St. Lawrence University from 1975 until 1988. He has authored and edited four books including The Modern Jewish Experience in World Cinema (Brandeis University Press: 2011) and Projecting the Holocaust into the Present: The Changing Focus of Contemporary Holocaust Cinema (Rowman and Littlefield: 2005). He served as the historian and as an interviewer for Sam and Pearl Oliner’s The Altruistic Personality: Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe. In 2006 he delivered the keynote address for Yad Vashem’s first conference devoted to Hollywood and the Holocaust. His contribution to Holocaust Studies was profiled in Fifty Key Thinkers on the Holocaust and Genocide (Routledge:2010). In the fall semester of 2015, he taught as the Ida King Distinguished Visiting Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the Richard Stockton University of New Jersey.