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Adio Kerida

A topic in need of tender exploration doesn't get it in "Adio Kerida," a well-meaning but amateurish attempt at first-person historicism. The withered fate of Sephardic Jewry in Cuba is intertwined with anthropologist Ruth Behar's own story of exile from Castro's island. Neither takes hold as a compelling narrative.

With: Ruth Behar, Elizabeth Pena (narrator).

A topic in need of tender exploration doesn’t get it in “Adio Kerida,” a well-meaning but amateurish attempt at first-person historicism. The withered fate of Sephardic Jewry in Cuba is intertwined with anthropologist Ruth Behar’s own story of exile from Castro’s island. Neither takes hold as a compelling narrative. Helmer also has an 82-minute version available on VHS, but pic (easily confused with Bosnian docu of the same name) needs to be cut down to tube half-hour to have any life beyond Jewish fests.

There are still vestiges of Sephardism in Cuba, which Behar left when a youngster, and this is her attempt to pick up loose strands. But searcher is someone who, basically, will talk to anyone who claims to remember meeting someone who was Jewish. Result is extremely vague and disorganized, with elderly, tango-loving rabbi competing for space with a little Afro-Cuban boy whose family is moving to Israel. Things get more tenuous when Behar follows a cold trail to Florida, still listening to anyone who’ll talk. Strangest effect is heavily mannered, child-like narration from usually terrific Elizabeth Pena.

Adio Kerida

Production: A Women Make Movies presentation of a Ruth Behar production, with support from the University of Michigan. Produced, directed, written by Behar.

Crew: Camera (color, BetaSP), Gisela Fosado, Marc Drake, Umi Vaughan; editor, Drake; music, Mori Behar. Reviewed on vidcassette at Vancouver Jewish Film Festival, May 20, 2003. Spanish and English dialogue. Running time: 58 MIN.

With: With: Ruth Behar, Elizabeth Pena (narrator).

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