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The City without Jews (Die Stadt ohne Juden)

Movie screening and live music by Alicia Svigals and Donald Sosin


Yiddishland and The House of Israel are honored to host a screening of the silent film Die Stadt ohne Juden (The City without Jews), a 1924 Viennese masterpiece, directed and produced by H.K. Breslauer. The film is based on a bestselling eponymous dystopian novel by Hugo Bettauer, which portrays the fictional Austrian city of “Utopia” (a thinly-disguised stand-in for Vienna), which passed an antisemitic law, expelling all its Jews. Although at first the decision was welcomed and met with celebration, as time went by, Utopia’s citizens faced an ongoing economic impoverishment and cultural decline that forced them to reconsider their decision and wonder whether to invite the Jews back. Though darkly comedic in tone and stylistically influenced by German Expressionism, the film nonetheless contains ominous and eerily realistic sequences, such as shots of freight trains transporting Jews out of the city. It is considered to be one of the few surviving Austrian expressionist films and, consequently, the subject of research and interest both in Austria and around the world. We will have the unique opportunity to enjoy live original accompanying music by world-renowned Klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals and silent film pianist Donald Sosin.

This event is organized in cooperation with The Sunrise Foundation for Education and the Arts and The House of Israel.

Alicia Svigals

Violinist/composer Alicia Svigals is the world’s leading Klezmer fiddler and a founder of the Grammy-winning Klezmatics. She has performed with and written music for violinist Itzhak Perlman and has worked with the Kronos Quartet, playwrights Tony Kushner and Eve Enseler, poet Allen Ginsburgh, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Debbie Friedman, and Chava Albershteyn. Svigals was awarded a Foundation for Jewish Culture commission for her original score to the 1918 film “The Yellow Ticket” and is a MacDowell fellow. With jazz pianist Uli Geissendoerfer, she recently released “Beregovsky Suite: Klezmer Reimagined,” a recording of contemporary interpretations of Klezmer music from a long-lost Soviet Jewish archive. Her CD “Fidl” (1996) reawakened Klezmer fiddle tradition.


Donald Sosin

Pianist/composer Donald Sosin grew up in Rye, New York and Munich, and has performed his scores for silent films, often with his wife, singer/percussionist Joanna Seaton, at Lincoln Center, MoMA, BAM, the National Gallery, at major film festivals in New York, San Francisco, Telluride, Hollywood, Pordenone, Bologna, Shanghai, Bangkok, Berlin, Vienna, Moscow, and Jecheon, South Korea and many college campuses. He has worked with Alexander Payne, Isabella Rossellini, Dick Hyman, Jonathan Tunick, Comden and Green, Martin Charnin, Mitch Leigh, and Cy Coleman, and has played for Mikhael Baryshnikov, Mary Travers, Marni Nixon, David Alan Grier, Howie Mandel, Geula Gill, Donna McKechnie and many others. He records for Criterion, Kino, Milestone, Flicker Alley and European labels, and his scores are heard frequently on TCM. Sosin has had commissions from MoMA, the Chicago Symphony Chorus, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. He lives in rural Connecticut with his family.

When: Wednesday, May 22, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. PT (8:30-10:30 p.m. CT, 9:30-11:30 p.m. ET)

Where: House of Pacific Relations – Hall of Nations, 2191 Pan American W Rd, San Diego, CA 92101 and on Zoom