Like A Bride

From Sept ’08 Spotlight: Speaking of Spanish, the final film in this year’s International Summer Screening Series is Novia Que Te Vea (Like a Bride), a Mexican film from 1993. The main characters are “Rifke” and “Oshi,” two lifelong friends who meet as teens in a Hashomer Hatzair group. Oshi’s grandparents immigrated to Mexico from Turkey right after WWI, and her enormous Sephardic family still speaks Ladino at home. Rifke’s parents came from Poland right before WWII. Her tiny Ashkenazi family, consisting of Rifke, her parents, her brother, and her mother’s brother (the one family member they know of who managed to survive the Holocaust), still speaks Yiddish at home. Most of the time the girls speak Spanish when they’re alone together or with siblings and friends, but there’s lots of Hebrew in the synagogue, and anyone who’s ever belonged to a Zionist youth group will recognize Hebrew songs like “Erev Ba” and, of course, “Ha Tikvah.”

It’s fascinating to watch so many familiar plot elements played out in this new context, but I don’t want to reduce Like a Bride to a didactic exercise. The characters are fully inhabited, and the cavalcade of costumes (from the 1920s through the 1960s) is thoroughly rewarding in and of itself! Kudos to director Guita Schyfter for fluidly incorporating “melting pot” debates into an insightful coming-of-age dramedy.

The International Summer Screening Series is cosponsored by Cinema/Chicago and the Chicago Cultural Center, in collaboration with participating Midwestern consular offices. Like a Bride will show one time only at 6:30 PM on Weds Sept 17 in the Claudia Cassidy Theatre at the Chicago Cultural Center. The screening is free but space is limited, so come early if you want to be sure of a seat.

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