From the director of festival hit THE LAST KLEZMER (JFF 1994) comes the story of Zev Godinger a proste yid, or simple Jew, living in the Carpathian mountains in the Ukraine. Zev has a special and rather harmonious friendship with his Gypsy neighbors. We see them in exhilarating musical "jam" sessions that demonstrate the subtle interrelationships and influences between Gypsy and Jewish music. CARPATI captures the unique melodies and cadences created by communities of outsiders in this region. In 1931, when Godinger was just a boy, the Carpathian area was part of Czechoslovakia and the Jews - mostly poor farmers - numbered a quarter million. Today fewer than 1,500 reside there, and by the year 2000 their community will likely die out. In a fascinating instance of cultural crossover, the Carpathian Gypsies have preserved traces of Jewish tradition in their own music. On a more personal note, when Godinger triumphantly carries the Torah to his boyhood synagogue, which has been re-opened after fifty years, he's accompanied by Gypsy friends who play a Yiddish tune. Treating us to a beautiful, bittersweet musical legacy, director Yale Strom uncovers the last stronghold of Jewish life in a region once vibrant with a melting pot of thriving cultures. Narrated by Leonard Nimoy.
Yale Strom was born in Detroit and moved to San Diego, at the age of twelve, he is the oldest of nine children (eight surviving). Yale was always on the go; orchestra rehearsals, cross-country training, Hebrew school, baseball, basketball, marching in picket-lines and pushing his younger siblings in the stroller. He went to undergraduate school at San Diego State University where he ran collegiate cross-country and track. He finished his studies there earning two BA's; one in American Studies and the other in Furniture Design.
Between painting, carpet cleaning, gardening and music gigs Yale enjoyed life as an early Eighties slacker. Then one evening he went to a klezmer dance in a downtown club in San Diego, and had the time of his life. He asked if he could join the band and the band leader basically said: "Don't call us we'll call you." He went home and decided that San Diego was big enough for two klezmer bands and he would make his unique.
The next day he called the law schools he was to attend that coming September announcing in Yiddish he would not be showing up. He then proceeded and called to make reservations for a one way ticket to Eastern Europe. He decided that he was going to trek around the "Eastern Bloc" looking for unknown, unrecorded klezmer melodies among the remnant Jewish communities.
During the last fifteen years Yale has been researching the Jewish and Rom (Gypsy) communities of Eastern Europe, the Mediterrenean and Balkan lands. His work has resulted in six photo-documentary books:
THE LAST JEWS OF EASTERN EUROPE
A TREE STILL STANDS: JEWISH YOUTH IN EASTERN EUROPE TODAY
THE EXPULSION OF THE JEWS: 500 YEARS OF EXODUS
THE HASIDIM OF BROOKLYN
UNCERTAIN ROADS: SEARCHING FOR THE GYPSIES
QUILTED LANDSCAPES: CONVERSATIONS WITH IMMIGRANT YOUTH
Yale Strom has recorded six music CD's with his two klezmer bands, Zmiros (San Diego) and Hot Pstromi, (NYC) and three documentary film:
AT THE CROSSROADS: JEWISH LIFE IN EASTERN EUROPE TODAY (1990)
THE LAST KLEZMER (1994) - screened at the 14th Annual Jewish Film Festival
and CARPATI: 50 MILES, 50 YEARS (1996).
The documentary films are available on video through his distributor
New Yorker Films
Tel: (800) 447-0196.
His music, including a soundtrack of CARPATI, is available through
Global Village Music
245 W. 29th St. Rm. 402
New York City, NY 10001
Yale became a Mensch once again when he graduated from Columbia University with a graduate degree in Yiddish Studies. He has recently married and is currently working on an original play for The San Diego Repertory Theatre and a screenplay that will be shot in NYC next May. He is also working on a book on the social history of the klezmer musician in pre-WW II Eastern Europe based upon people's oral history recollections and family photographs. If you or anyone you know has any memories about a klezmer(s) please contact
Yale Strom at
838 Hilldale Ave,
W. Hollywood, CA 90069
In 1996 CARPATI will be screened at the following theatres:
Sept. 9, Tampa, Fl (Movies on the Move),
Sept. 12, St. Louis (Jewish Community Center),
Sept. 22, Voorhies, NJ (Ritz 12),
Oct. 17, Honolulu, HA (Academy of the Arts),
Nov. 3, Cleveland, OH (Museum of Art),
Nov. 4, Detroit, MI (Detroit Institute of the Arts),
Nov. 12, NYC (Margaret Mead Film Festival-Natural History Museum),
Nov. 14, LA (Music Box Theatre),
Dec. 21, Norfolk, VA (Naro Theatre),
Feb. 2, Columbus, OH (Wexner Center).