“A harem full of translators would be heaven on earth.” – Bashevis Singer


Wednesday 24 February, 19:30, Rialto Amsterdam
Asaf Galay & Shaul Betser | Israel | 2014 | 72 min

Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902-1991) became the first Yiddish language author to receive a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978. After emigrating from Poland to the United States Singer became widely renowned for his short stories full of sharp sense of humour, absurdity and sensuality. While Singer arose to become the most internationally famous and successful Yiddish writer of all times, not many people were aware that for most of his career the writer worked with a ‘harem’ of dozens of young female translators. Beyond acting as simple translators, these women were a vital source of his creativity and the inspiration he drew from them came in many forms, often mixing romance with professional collaboration. Through their work, these intelligent and literary women introduced Singer to audiences around the world.
THE MUSES OF BASHEVIS SINGER reveals the unique collaboration between the writer and his translators by giving voice to the remaining nine of them, offering a delightful glimpse behind the curtain of Singer’s personality and his literary methods. Mixing intimate interviews and exclusive archival footage, the film retells the writer’s career through the eyes of the people who knew him best while bringing in the spotlight the often underrated role of translators and their own artistic practise.

“Dozens of women throughout Singer’s life worked with him to open the doors to his singular Yiddish prose for the rest of the world to enjoy, and his relationships with many of them blurred the lines between the professional and the personal. This is their story, and his—as well as a story of the arts of literature, translation, love, and life itself.” – Filmlinc
“This is a neat little film. Very much recommended.” – Unseen Films
“Israeli directors Shaul Betser and Asaf Galay tracked down nine of these women and some wonderful footage–not just of Singer’s interviews over the years (in one of which, with Dick Cavett in 1979, he takes exception to the commandment against adultery) but of Singer at work with his translators. […] All this behind-the-scenes creative stuff is so interesting, it may distract from the fact that, then as now, the famous take advantage of those who feel honored just to be next to them.” – Huffington Post

Cracking the Frame

A monthly program featuring an international selection of theatrically unreleased, critically acclaimed arts documentaries.
Cracking the Frame focuses on the creative intersection between art and film through thought-provoking cinematic portraits of the life and work of established contemporary artists, photographers, filmmakers and global thinkers.

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