The Light Ahead

Edgar Ulmer (1939)

LAYKA Lens, in partnership with our friends at the Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB) and the National Center for Jewish Film, discussed the contagious Yiddish classic The Light Ahead (פישקע דער קרומער) August 27, 2020. If you missed it, you can view a recording of the discussion below.

You can rent the film, restored and with new English subtitles from the National Center for Jewish Film. Then, stream the film at home before our discussion. This is an exclusive online screening — The Light Ahead is not available on any other streaming service and only available online until September 3!  The $10 rental fee goes entirely to the National Center for Jewish Film to support their ongoing work.

Made just on the brink of the Second World War, Edgar Ulmer’s The Light Ahead tells the story of two lovers, Fishke (David Opatoshu) and Hodel (Helen Beverley), whose physical disabilities and poverty leave them on the margins of society. The two dream of a life free from the prejudice and despair of their shtetl. With a screenplay by Chaver Paver based on the tales of Mendele Moykher-Sforim (played by Isidore Cashier), this love story set in the midst of an epidemic (what else?) becomes a startling allegory about superstition, ignorance, and the power of reason and kindness.

Our discussion centered on this fascinating film and continued our quarantine-long cinematic inquiry into questions of community, contagion, knowledge, and power.

Participants included:

  • Moderator: Boris Dralyuk, Executive Editor, Los Angeles Review of Books
  • Rob Adler Peckerar, Executive Director, Yiddishkayt
  • J. Hoberman, Author & Critic, New York Times
  • Sharon Pucker Rivo, Executive Director, National Center for Jewish Film
  • Eve Sicular, Author & Bandleader
All images and film clips from The Light Ahead copyright the National Center for Jewish Film.