Shot in beautiful black and white, A TICKLE IN THE HEART is a stunning, cinematic documentary that depicts the semi-retired lives of The Epstein Brothers, the "Kings of Klezmer Music." Sixty years ago, the brothers - Max, Willie and Julie Epstein - performed at festive New York street celebrations held by Jewish immigrants. Today, the brothers live in America's retirement paradise - "God's Waiting Room," Florida. Here, where the days pass slowly, the Epstein Brothers tirelessly play their "Yiddish music" for appreciative elderly audiences. When asked about the term "klezmer," one Epstein reveals that years ago, klezmorim was a dirty word that implied a vagabond street musician. The Epstein Brothers believed that as Jews assimilated into an American way of life, the popularity of Yiddish music would fade. But with the recent revival of the klezmer style, the octogenarian musicians find themselves experiencing a joyous, if somewhat belated international success. Their incredible stories, told with glowing humor, reveal that no one is more surprised by this fact than the Epstein Brothers themselves. Produced by a German filmmaking team, A TICKLE IN THE HEART is a uniquely American story that has the elegant, polished feel of a European art film. It honors the incredible Epsteins with the kind of wide-eyed admiration they deserve.
Born 1961 in Esslingen, Germany, and grew up in Basel, Switzerland, Stefan was a young actor, and worked at the video cooperative in Basel. He lived in Brazil and in the USA, where he made his first documentaries.
He studied at the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin from 1984 to 1991 and began working as an independent filmmaker and editor in Basel and Berlin in 1991.
Director Stefan Schwietert (right) saw the Epstein Brothers perform at a special Klezmer concert in Berlin, the first since the Second World War to a packed non-jewish audience. He then teamed up with Producer Eddie Rosenstein from Florida, where the Epsteins reside, to film their musical story.
1986 - Das Topolino-Projekt (short film)
1987 - Tapez 36-15 Code Gobra (short film)
1988 - Fualni
1988 - The last ten days of a campagne (video)
1991 - Sprung aus den Wolken
1994 - Der Schatten ist lang (documentary)
1995 - A TICKLE IN THE HEART (documentary)
Florida based Producer Eddie Rosenstein with his significant other absorbing the rays at the Castro Theatre.
Taking Willie Epstein's humor and criticism with a smile, Eddie wryly laughs at the prospect of seeing the Brother's perform live. "You have to be old and living in a private retirement community where they usually perform" he said; "You're just too young."