Independent film distributor, Cohen Media Group is re-releasing, the 1975 film, Hester Street starring Academy Award nominated actress, Carol Kane. The release is a new 4K Restoration from the Cohen Film Collection. Dealing with themes of assimilation, this film, set in the early 1900s, focuses on the experiences of an immigrant family in New York City. Gitl (Kane) has just arrived in America from Russia with her son. She has come to meet her husband, Jake (Steven Keats), who has been in the States for some time and is comfortably settled. While Gitl struggles to find her place in this country, she clashes with Jake, who has fully embraced their new homeland.
The backstory of the making of Hester Street is just as compelling of a story as the film itself. Hester Street was a rarity in Hollywood because it was directed by a woman. Written (in conjunction with Abraham Cahan) and directed by Joan Micklin Silver, Hester Street defied the odds in a male dominated film industry. In a 1979 American Film Institute interview, Silver quoted a studio executive who told her bluntly, "Feature films are very expensive to mount and distribute, and women directors are one more problem we don’t need.” The quote is something you would never expect from liberal Hollywood but that attitude was common back in the day and has crept along through the years. Just think, there have been 93 Academy Award presentations since 1929 and only two female directors have won the award for Best Director. This includes Kathryn Bigelow (Hurt locker) and Chloe Zhao (Nomadland).
The 1970s was a turning point for female directors due to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and the Feminist Movement. Female directors from that era such as Barbara Loden (Wanda), Karen Arthur (Legacy), Elaine May (A New Leaf), Joan Rivers (Rabbit Test), Jane Wagner (Moment by Moment) and Joan Micklin Silver paved the way for the female directors of today. Even Joan's husband, Raphael Silver, a successful real estate developer became a part of the movement. He saw firsthand his wife's struggles and out of shear frustration ended up financing a production company for her called Midwest Films. The company produced Hester Street which was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2011. Perhap that real estate connection is one of the reasons why two of Joan Micklin Silver’s films are in the Cohen Media Group film collection as the company is owned by billionaire real estate and entertainment mogul, Charles Cohen. The other Silver film in the Cohen archive is the 1977 dramedy, Between the Lines which features a cast of young actors (Jeff Goldbloom, John Heard, Lindsay Crouse) who would go on to have prolific careers in Hollywood. Between the Lines can currently be seen on the streaming service, Kanopy. As for Hester Street, it will be showing at the Nuart Theatre in West Los Angeles starting on Friday, October 1. The Nuart is located at 11272 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025. For more information, visit LandmarkTheatres.com.