Renowned American artist and filmmaker Danielle Durchslag has never before exhibited in Europe until now. A rising star this side of the Atlantic, Danielle is making her UK directorial debut at the BAFTA qualifying UK Jewish Film Festival, where she will present two provocative short films from her critically acclaimed BOUNTY series.
The BOUNTY series daringly lifts the curtain on the inherent tensions present when the Jewish history of oppression is combined with extreme privilege. Using voice actors, live actors, animation and complex editing techniques, Durchslag makes video collages that subvert familiar British cinematic tropes to explore political and psychological complexities of American Jewish wealth; specifically the concept of American Jewish wealth as a dedicated form of “sophisticated WASP drag”. Playful and humorous, uncomfortable questions remain unavoidable about the ethical cost of attained wealth and the complex gender politics at play in family dynasties.
Making its UK premiere at the festival, Eleanor of Illinois stars Judy Kuhn, 2020 Olivier Award nominee and four-time Tony nominee for her roles in the original Broadway casts of Les Misérables, Chess and Fun Home. Kuhn is also known for her seminal turn as the singing voice of Disney’s Pocahontas. In this most ambitious piece from the BOUNTY series, Chicago’s most powerful Jewish doyenne channels Katharine Hepburn to punish her adult child’s insolence and win back their loyalty. This piece is a meditation on what hard-won financial success has wrought, a passionate piece of experimental video art fan fiction, and a portrait of how normal family dysfunction, when combined with extreme affluence, transforms into high melodrama.
The Woman Who Heard Too Much will make its worldwide premiere. Subverting British cinematic tropes, Durchslag transforms a suspenseful scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much into the story of an upper-class Jewish mother, played by Doris Day, who becomes emotionally overwrought at a live performance of Fiddler On The Roof. The short playfully exposes the patriarchal attitudes at play in Jewish dynasties, and so often exemplified in the non-Jewish characters in the classic films of directors such as Hitchcock. It also contends with the power and limitations of mainstream Jewish cultural output.
The UK Jewish Film Festival will return this November with a spectacular programme exploring Jewish and Israeli life, history and culture. This year, with an offering which features films, Q&As, panel discussions and other special events, the Festival will be streamed online, with limited performances in partnership with JW3.
We’re talking Academy-level artistry here in six minutes (Kurt Brokaw, Senior Film Critic for The Independent, Eleanor of Illinois).
Danielle Durchslag’s BOUNTY short films Eleanor of Illinois and The Woman Who Heard Too Much will be streamed online at the UK Jewish Film Festival from 5 – 19 November 2020.
Photo credit: Danielle Durchslag Fine Art