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A Film and its Era: Little Odessa (James Grey)

James Gray, Jordan Mintzer, Paul Webster, Tim Roth, Vanessa Redgrave, Tom Richmond

Portrait of a film: A contract killer from New York returns to the quarter of his childhood to execute a murder but then it’s him who the local mafia wants to see dead. He reencounters his father, who had chased him from the parental home, his dying mother and his younger brother, left to his own devices. Starring Vanessa Redgrave, Maximilian Schell and Tim Roth, this crime film with its dramatic elements describes the bloody destruction of a family. The title “Little Odessa” refers to the quarter Brooklyn, home to a vast number of Russian and Ukrainian immigrants with Jewish background. Portrait of an era: At the end of the 1980s, the United States experienced a large increase of immigrants fleeing from the perestroika in the Soviet Union. With these immigrants, many Russian Mafiosi found their way in the US. In these times, New York suffered an economic recession and an important rise in crime. Elected in 1994, the Republican mayor Rudolph Giuliani makes the fight against crime the major axis of his policy. Portrait of a director: Having received the Silver Lion in Venice, Little Odessa is the first film by James Gray, then aged 25. He is of Ukrainian Jewish descent himself and his film is partly autobiographical. After Little Odessa that reached cult status, James Gray shot another four films – the last one, The Immigrant, was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.


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30 mins
David Thompson
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