“Hester Street” Kicks Off LES Film Series

The Seward Park Library’s LES Heritage Film Series returns for a second season Tuesday night.  Series curator Sean Ferguson digs up some real gems from the New York Public Library’s vast film archive.  The screening room (the library’s basement) is not glamorous (if you’re old enough you might even have a flashback or two to elementary school). But the films are often fascinating.

Tomorrow, the series features “Hester Street,” the highly regarded 1975 portrayal of immigrant life on the Lower East Side near the turn of the 20th century.

In its original review of the film, the New York Times wrote:

There is nothing very original about “Hester Street” except its loveliness. Literally, it is a small movie about the struggles and transformations of the Jews who settled in the Lower East Side and tried to reconcile the ordered values they brought along with the unmarked opportunities they found. The immigrant theme, with its anecdotes, its incongruities, its mixture of comedy and pathos, has been played through any number of stories, novels, memoirs, films. How, then, can this film be so good? Partly, it is because movies are performances as well as creations…. Performance doesn’t refer simply to the acting, though the cast of “Hester Street” … is superlative, and Carol Kane in the starring role is extraordinary. It refers to the whole framing of the picture by Joan Micklin Silver, its author and director: the rhythms, the acute selection of incident and character.

The film series takes place tomorrow at the Seward Park Library, 192 East Broadway, at 6:15 p.m.