Strange Fruit

| 56 mins |

Lovingly and masterfully crafted, STRANGE FRUIT tracks the long and winding history of the eerie, controversial jazz classic. A song about lynching, it gained infamy when Billie Holiday performed it at a Greenwich Village nightclub, Café Society, the only integrated nightclub in 1939 Manhattan. The song began as a poem by Abel Meerapol, a Jewish high school teacher from the Bronx who was disturbed by a photo of a lynching. Under the pseudonym Lewis Allan, he set it to music. One of the most important protest songs ever written, it became a staple in Billie Holiday’s career. The tale of the song reflects on the lives of African Americans, immigrant Jews, anti-Communist government officials, radical Leftist organizers, music publishers and jazz musicians. This film features moving interviews, a score by Don Byron, and hypnotizing performances of the song, which was voted “Best Song of the 20th Century” by Time Magazine. (Abel Meeropol and his wife Anne, became widely known when they adopted the orphaned children of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.)


Joel Katz

SFJFF Festival Year