A Tickle In The Heart

on January 23, 1997 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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Klezmer music, the Eastern European Jewish folk music that has undergone a revival in recent years, is lovingly and touchingly feted in this profile of three elderly practitioners of the form. Julie, Willie and Max Epstein, now of Florida, were once the leading Klezmer players in New York; they still ply their craft, along with a few jokes and a bit of schmaltz.
Director/co-scripter Stefan Schwietert, a non-Jewish German documenatarian, follows the Epsteins around as they perform at senior citizens' homes, Jewish weddings and--in a remarkable sequence--before a German audience in Berlin. Watching the latter enjoying the Yiddish melodies purveyed by the Epsteins is moving and hopeful.
Shot in 35mm black-and-white, "A Tickle in the Heart" is not just a curiosity piece. It benefits tremendously from Schwietert's unobtrusive eye and the presence of the Epsteins, characters all. It's also got a great beat. Directed by Stefan Schwietert. Written by Stefan Schwietert and Thomas Kufus. Produced by Martin Hagemann, Edward Rosenstein and Thomas Kufus. A Kino release. Documentary. Unrated. Running time: 84 min. Screened at the Toronto fest.
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