For the uprooted, "home" can mean an elusive yearning for a former place and time. Odessa...Odessa! elegantly captures the essence of nostalgia as experienced by elderly Jews born in Odessa, Ukraine. Like a melancholy three-verse song, this documentary is a poetic journey from Odessa to Brighton Beach, New York, to Ashdod, Israel, maneuvering among characters who summon feelings of Odessa through memory and music.
On Odessa’s vacant streets, neglected buildings suggest a glorious past. Here a few very old women reminisce, in a mix of Yiddish and Russian, about World War II, their ideologies and their vibrant youths. With their city nearly emptied of Jewish life, it is as if they live in the Odessa of fantasy. In Brighton Beach, the vibrancy that must once have filled Odessa pulses along the boardwalk. In sun-bleached Ashdod, the Odessans express dis-appointment that, while in Russia they were considered Jews, here in the "promised land" they are forever Russians--outsiders. Their supposed homeland has become Diaspora.
Drawing out subtle meanings through stunning, lyrical photography and the metaphor of a timeless traveler who guides us over the sea from continent to continent, Odessa...Odessa! evokes profound truths about the soul of the Jewish people and the wider experience of exile.
-Caroline Libresco, Sundance Film Festival
Michale Boganim was born in Israel and brought up in Paris, where she studied at the Sorbonne. She returned to Israel and completed her studies in philosophy and history at the Hebrew University. She then studied directing at the National Film and Television School in London. Michale currently lives in Tel Aviv.