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Film of the Week

January 30, 2015

• Nicole Malek

Name: "Pur"

What I loved about it:

“We’ve gotten older and fatter. We’ve eaten a lot, good and bad. It’s good that we are still friends.” 

It's not often that a mustached and bespeckled old man is characterized as a revolutionary. But in “Pur,” the term takes on a new, more complicated meaning. The stereotypical image of a youth raising hell in the streets is replaced by that of a quieter but arguably stronger form of protest—the creation of satirical art. “Pur” details the clandestine performances of  “Purim Spiel” in Soviet Russia. Rare archival footage is paired with present day interviews with the actors and director. What initially seems like a youthful lark of self expression (there are many a colorful costume and lighthearted song in the footage) is quickly put into context: The performance of these pieces was nothing short of political rebellion and the preservation of a repressed culture. Many of the actors were arrested and detained; many families split up because of governmental persecution. It is fascinating to see them speak about it, 30 years later, reflecting on the good and that bad.

Why You Should Watch It:

In its structure, it has some subtle and fascinating things to say about filmmaking and the act of performance. For parts of the film, as a present-day audience member, you are watching the present-day interviewees watch themselves being watched by an audience 30 years ago (say that five times fast). It’s a strange position and one that asks what it means to be a performer and how that meaning may have changed in the last three decades.

Where You Can Watch It:

In the Seed&Spark Cinema!

Who made it:

Anat Vovnoboy was born in the former Soviet Uninon and was raised in Israel. “Pur” chronicles her parents and friends as they celebrated one of the then forbidden Jewish festivals, Purim. You can follow her on twitter at @anatology.

Read more by

Nicole Malek

Community Manager of Seed&Spark

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