a Sudden Storm Entertainment Production
When Jews Were Funny
A film by Alan Zweig
Opens in Toronto
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
November 15, 2013
Opens in Montreal, November 22
other Canadian cities to follow
Such a tsimmis there’s been over Alan Zweig’s When Jews Were Funny!
Zweig’s acclaimed documentary – about the nature of Jewish comedy and how it came to inform pop culture itself – hits theatres November 15, in Toronto, then Montreal on November 22 – shortly after being crowned the Best Canadian Feature at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The perceptive and introspective doc delves into both the historical and the personal. It combines the factual impact of the Jewish presence in American showbiz, with its existential impact on a young Jewish-Canadian boy who wondered how Jewish-ness and laughter came to merge.
Why, the young Alan Zweig wondered, were all the comedians he watched on TV in the ‘50s and ‘60s Jewish? It puzzled him since childhood. What connection was there, if any, between the humor of the professional comic and the humor of the old Jews around him, who never seemed satisfied with anything.
“My whole filmmaking career I resisted invoking my Jewish background,” says Zweig, “but when that resistance broke, perhaps inevitably, I went full Jew.”
When Jews Were Funny drills deep into the well of kosher talent, their styles, opinions and experiences in both their religious and secular lives. It features interviews with Shelley Berman, Howie Mandel, Gilbert Gottfried, Norm Crosby, David Steinberg, Shecky Greene, Jack Carter, Andy Kindler, Elon Gold, David Brenner, Bob Einstein, Judy Gold, Marc Maron.
The TIFF jury praised When Jews Were Funny for “its deeply moving exploration of memory, identity and community and for its coherent and profoundly humorous representation of the personal as universal.”
“To debut my previous film (15 Reasons To Live) at Hot Docs in the spring and then to be lucky enough to debut When Jews Were Funny at TIFF that same year was a thrill,” says Zweig. “Going on to win the award was almost too much and one of the great shocks of my life.”
Toronto filmmaker Zweig has become known for documentaries that explore both the human condition and his place in it. He first gained acclaim for his 2000 film Vinyl, about the obsessive passion that drives record collectors.
About Alan Zweig
Alan Zweig has been around the film scene in Toronto for over 30 years. He drove on “Videodrome” and “The Edison Twins”, wrote an episode of Mr. T’s show “T and T” as well as a few other things, and acted in some films including one of Canada’s greatest underground shorts “The Ballad of Don Quinn.” He did some other things including directing a low budget feature in 1994. But he was reborn as a documentary filmmaker in 2000 with the release of “Vinyl”, which went on to become a cult film. Since then he did two other documentaries in a similar style, namely “I, Curmudgeon” and “Lovable”, which collectively became known as his mirror trilogy. In 2009, he completed “A Hard Name” which went on to win an Audience Award at Hot Docs and later the Genie for Best Feature Documentary. In 2011, Zweig was honored with a “Focus On” retrospective at Hot Docs as well as being the subject of a retrospective on TVO.
About Sudden Storm Productions
Sudden Storm Entertainment Ltd. was founded in 2001 by Jesse D. Ikeman and Jeff Glickman. The company produces feature film and television content. The company’s latest projects include the feature documentary When Jews Were Funny and is the Canadian production services company on All is Lost starring Robert Redford and currently in production. Feature films wrapped include Running Mates, George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead and Killing Zelda Sparks,`which had its World Premier at the Montreal World Film Festival, and a US Premier at the San Diego International Film Festival, where it won the Heineken Red Star Award. Corporately, in 2010 the company acquired the assets of Heroic Film Company and over 60 hours of programming.
When Jews Were Funny is being released in Canada by KINOSMITH INC., an independent Canadian film distribution & marketing company founded in February 2007 by distribution veteran Robin Smith. KINOSMITH is also home to the Hot Docs Collection on DVD that releases award winning documentaries curated by the Hot Docs festival in Canada. Current KINOSMITH releases include: Blackfish, Good Ol’ Freda, After Tiller, Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me, Unclaimed, Dragon Girls, A People Uncounted, Call Me Kuchu, Informant, Mussels In Love, 15 Reasons To Live, and The Venice Syndrome. Upcoming releases include; Design Is One, Big Sur, Il Futuro, Brother Number One, The Punk Syndrome, Village At The End Of The World, The Ridge, Road North, I Will Be Murdered, These Birds Walk and Wavemakers.