Odessa . . . Odessa! (Michale Boganim, 2005)
In this film, directed by Michale Boganim, the camera observes three “Odessa” communities: the real one in the Ukraine, another in New York and a third in Israel. The contemporary documentary maps the movement of Eastern Europeans from their homeland, to “die goldene medina” – America, to Israel.
The chosen extract is from the New York segment in the film, where the camera follows a migrant as she performs her new identity – American chanteuse – to migrant audiences, and travels up from her new homeland of (Russian) Brighton Beach to the “foreign” paradise of her dreams, Manhattan – the promised land for all Eastern European Jews. Throughout the extract the protagonist seems to be stuck in limbo, in a permanent state of transition to nowhere. Stuck in a foreign speaking community in the suburbs of New York, she consults a fortune teller, dies her hair blond, and sings US disco hits from a bygone era, but all for nought. For this would-be Cinderella, the bright lights of “Great White Way” all seem forever a dream away. A New York Times reviewer has referred to the film as conjuring “a melancholy definition of exile as a haunted state of mind”.
Sign up for the UCL Urban Migration Film Festival here