Synopsis by Josh Ralske
In her documentary From Language to Language, filmmaker Nurith Aviv explores the immigrant experience of language, focusing on ten artists and intellectuals, including the filmmaker herself, all first-generation Israelis, and their varied struggles with the need to assimilate and learn a new language for a new nation, Hebrew. Several speak of the shame of having a foreign accent, and of how their families spoke their native language only in private, unlike the new Russian immigrants to Israel, who fight to preserve their original culture. Singers speak of the comfort they find in singing in their mother tongue, while rabbi/philosopher Daniel Epstein compares the poetic nuances of French to the harsh precision of Hebrew. Several subjects mention that they still dream in their native language. Some have an antagonistic relationship with the language they've been forced to learn. Writer Aharon Appelfeld, a Holocaust survivor originally from Germany, says, "Hebrew doesn't flow out of you," comparing speaking the language he now calls his own to "shoveling gravel into your mouth." From Language to Language was presented by the Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center as part of the 2005 New York Jewish Film Festival.
bilingualism, cultural-identity, cultural-traditions, French-language, Hebrew, immigrant, Israel, language, Russian-language, shame