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Eatala: A Life in Klezmer

Film by Barry Dornfeld, Debora Kodish
Produced by The Philadelphia Folklore Project
Cinematographer: Barry Dornfeld with Josh Dolgin, RaeAnn Drew, and Alex Mjoisness
Sound: Debora Kodish, Thomas Owens, Toni Shapiro-Phim
Editing: Barry Dornfeld and Debora Kodish with Thomas Owens
Copyright: 2011, The Philadelphia Folklore Project
38 minutes, Color
Original format: DV Mini, 2011
More Film Facts
Home streaming only. For other permissions apply to Barry Dornfeld, Debora Kodish or to the distributor, Philadelphia Folklore Project.


Preview one minute trailer - Comment on film


Klezmer is Eastern European Jewish folk music. In other parts of the country, klezmer seemed to disappear and then was revived. But in Philadelphia, the Hoffman family never stopped playing this music. This film, “Eatala: A Life in Klezmer” shares the unique Ukrainian-Jewish klezmer sounds of Elaine Hoffman Watts and Susan Watts, third and fourth generation klezmorim. Including dynamic concert footage, family movies, interviews and historic photos, the documentary shows what this music means, and how it has remained vital. “Eatala” is a loving portrait of NEA National Heritage Award-winner Elaine Hoffman Watts (her Yiddish name is “Eatala”) and her family legacy. The documentary shows how a feisty and determined musician has broken barriers as a musician, a working mother, and in her persistent devotion to her family's klezmer music. Drawing on performance footage, family movies and photographs, and interviews, “Eatala” shows how the klezmer tradition has been sustained over four generations in a single family, with a good dose of humor and joy. “Eatala” features performances by Elaine Hoffman Watts, Susan Lankin Watts and an all-star klezmer band with Josh Dolgin, Jay Krush, Rachel Lemisch, Hankus Netsky, Henry Sapoznik, and Carmen Staaf.

“Moving chronicle of one family’s life in music. A rare glimpse, touched with humor, of how a musical tradition was held in trust. ”—Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett

“A 3rd-generation klezmer, the mother of a next generation of klezmorim, and a raucous, wonderful storyteller. The Philly sound in full force and dance-compelling splendor.”—Ari Davidow, Klezmer Shack


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