MAMADRAMA Screenings


This year in honor of the 4th annual International SWAN Day, Chicago YIVO will sponsor multiple screenings of Monique Schwartz’ 2000 documentary Mamadrama.

Quote from filmmaker Monique Schwarz

(posted on the NCJF website):

“The Jewish mothers that I know and love are sexy, smart, and strong, but I have never seen this mother in Hollywood movies, and I set out to find out why.” 

Jewish mothers are the most easily maligned image of Jewish women found in movies and television today. You know who they are: the caricature of the overbearing, emasculating, long suffering mother ever-ready with mountains of food. Australian director Monique Schwarz takes a funny, penetrating look at how the loving and affectionate portrayals in early Yiddish and Hollywood silent movies developed into the Jewish Mother of modern Hollywood and, conversely, the more flesh and blood characterizations in contemporary Israeli cinema.

With characteristic Jewish humor, iconic filmmakers Paul Mazursky, Paul Bogart and Larry Peerce and actress Lainie Kazan reflect with disarming candor on their own Jewish mothers and how they influenced their on-screen portrayals. Critics J. Hoberman, Patricia Erens, Michael Medved and Sharon Rivo discuss the changing image of the Jewish mother on screen and Israeli directors Avram Hefner and Zepel Yeshurun and actress Gila Almagor illustrate the uniqueness of Israeli filmic images.

Mamadrama features hilarious film clips from Come Blow Your Horn, Goodbye Columbus, Next Stop Greenwich Village, The Jazz Singer, Portnoy’s Complaint, Where’s Poppa, Torch Song Trilogy, rare Yiddish films and recent Israeli features. Interspersed throughout is the story of Schwarz’s own mother, Berta, from her life in Vienna before World War II to her struggles as an immigrant in post-war Australia, a picture of a woman vastly different from the Jewish mothers seen in contemporary films.

Mamadrama: The Jewish Mother in Cinema

Written & Directed by Monique Schwarz

(Australia, 2001, 73 minutes, color)

Many thanks to the National Center for Jewish Film for working with us to bring Mamadrama to Metro Chicago for SWAN Day!

Celia Adler in WHERE IS MY CHILD?


The acronym “SWAN” stands for “Support Women Artists Now!” International SWAN Day is a collaboration between WomenArts (the Fund for Women Artists) & WITASWAN (Women in the Audience Supporting Women Artists Now).

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