(JTA)—”The beauty queen of Jerusalemhas made headlines as one of the most elaborate and expensive productions in the Israeli television industry.
The series, which follows a family of Spanish Sephardic Jews living in Jerusalem through different decades of the early 20th century, also features ladin – the centuries-old language sometimes called Judeo-Spanish which combines medieval Spanish, Hebrew, Aramaic, Turkish, Greek, Arabic and other influences.
Ladino, spoken by Jewish communities in the Ottoman Empire and North Africa who fled the Spanish Inquisition in 1492, is today only spoken by a few hundred thousand people, according to various scientific estimates. In recent years he has seen a bit of a resurgence through descendants seeking to reclaim the language of their ancestors.
The Ladino is particularly rare on television and in cinema. But we’ve compiled a list of a few that feature at least spoken Ladino and are available to rent or stream for free online, dating from 1973 to the present day.
Haberes buenos! (It is “good news” in Ladino.)
“The house on rue Chelouche», Israel (1973)
The late Israeli director Moshe Mizrahi was nominated three times for the Oscar for best foreign language film, winning once for a film submitted on behalf of France, “Madame Rosa”. For “The House on Chelouche Street”, he used his own life and heritage to tell the story of a Sephardic Egyptian immigrant family living in a working-class Tel Aviv neighborhood in 1947 amid the turmoil that preceded the creation of the State of Israel. . With its careful observations of how domestic and intra-community tensions can intersect with historical events, the film documents a bygone era of Sephardic culture. It is broadcast for free on Dailymotion in of them rooms. –Asaf Shalev
“Every time we say goodbye”, United States (1986)
Tom Hanks stars in this film, also directed by Mizrahi, as an injured American pilot serving in Britain’s Royal Air Force before World War II who is forced to recover in a Jerusalem hospital – where he falls in love with a beauty local Sephardi. The problem: he’s the son of a Protestant pastor, and his family doesn’t approve. This has the distinction of being Hanks’ best performing film at b, but watch it for the location shoot. It broadcasts for free on Tubi – and an opening title card mentions Ladino. –Ron Kampeas
“The Third Half” North Macedonia (2013)
This Holocaust film features another forbidden love story, involving a football star and a Macedonian Jewish woman, and the story of a Macedonian team trying to save the life of its Jewish coach. The film, which is based on real events, depicts the collaboration of the pro-Nazi Bulgarian regime in the expulsion of non-Bulgarian Jews, which angered some Bulgarian politicians and intellectuals at the time of the film’s release. It is currently free on Youtube with English subtitles. –R.K.
“Bulgarian Rhapsody”, Bulgaria (2014)
This culmination of director Ivan Nitchev’s trilogy on the Jews of Bulgaria and neighboring countries depicts a young Jewish love triangle as the Holocaust approaches. It was co-produced in Israel and stars israeli actors. The film became Bulgaria’s entry into the race for foreign films at the Oscars, causing national controversy in the process. This streams on Jewish-themed Chai Flicks Platform. –R.K.
“Cloudy Sunday” Greece (2015)
Forbidden love is clearly a common theme in the Ladino genre. In the tumultuous 1943, against the backdrop of German-occupied Thessaloniki, a young Jewish girl and a Christian boy struggle to overcome prejudice and fear as they fall in love and brutality against the persecuted Jewish community of the city intensify. It also broadcasts for free on Tubi. –Cnaan Liphchiz
“Sefarad”, Portugal (2019)
In 1496, King D. Manuel banned Judaism in Portugal. Barely 400 years later, Barros Basto, a captain in the Portuguese army who converted to Judaism, and around twenty Jewish merchants founded the Jewish community of Porto, in the north of the country. Porto’s Jewish community has made an unusually high-budget film about the story – with the help of income derived from the examination by the municipal group of applications for Portuguese citizenship. It broadcasts on Amazon Prime. –CL
“The club,” Turkey (2021)
This Turkish miniseries takes an unvarnished look at how the country’s nationalists mistreated and marginalized Jews and other minorities in 1950s Istanbul. And through its discussion of religious Judaism — from Shabbat rules to the tradition of kissing a mezuzah upon entering a room to scenes shot in Turkish synagogues — many Turkish Jews found the show an eye-opener, especially considering the fact that Jewish characters are generally relegated to stereotypes in Turkish productions. Turkish is the main language of the series, but there is some Ladino, especially on the haunting soundtrack. It is streaming on Netflix. –R.K.