The City of West Hollywood and The Wende Museum present a FREE screening of the Director’s Cut of a new documentary about the Soviet Jewish immigrant experience in Los Angeles. The film, directed by Mark Hayes, follows several Jewish families who left the former Soviet Union to settle in Los Angeles during the 1970s and 1980s. The personal cross-generational testimonies demonstrate the myriad challenges Russian Jews faced in a Cold War communist society and the process of adapting to new cultural norms in Southern California. Eugene Alper, an émigré himself, is the film’s host.
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The Director Mark Hayes’ background is in television production. He lived in East Germany in the year preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall and was present in Berlin on the day of reunification shooting footage for ABC. Hayes first visited East Germany in 1981. He estimates that he made more than forty visits before the Wall fell in 1989. He directed One Germany, One Year After (1991), a documentary that aired on many public television stations in the US. He has produced and directed documentaries on various subjects including Rebound, which highlighted championship wheelchair basketball, and Svoboda Means Freedom, about a young KGB victim returning to Ukraine to retrieve her child. Hayes recently directed the documentary One Germany: The Other Side of the Wall. The one-hour production examines life in Germany twenty years after reunification. Those in the East embrace their new freedom, but still struggle with the psychological wall that still separates them from their fellow countrymen in the West. Hayes has taught screenwriting at Southern Methodist University and is a member of the Writers Guild of America. He works with his wife Gabriele Hayes in Dallas and Los Angeles.
The film’s Host and Interviewer Eugene Alper graduated with a Master’s Degree in Theater, before emigrating from the Soviet Union in 1989, and was considered a leading actor of his generation in St. Petersburg, his work enjoying positive reviews and a dedicated following. Eugene has kept close touch with Russian culture and embraced his new life of opportunity by pursuing various creative interests. He continues to work as an actor and also works for the City of West Hollywood where he once served as Outreach Specialist to the Soviet Jewish community.