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Svigals & Sosin

Audiences around the US and in Europe where Alicia and Donald have performed have responded to The Ancient Law, City Without Jews and The Man Without a World with standing ovations and much praise. Below are just some of the reactions to the films and music—from  and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival to Vienna and Pordenone, Italy.

“What an amazing evening! I was absolutely blown away by the film and the music!”

“We were mesmerized! The music—the klezmer violin and piano score—magnified the story line and captured our hearts.”

“The score’s incredible strength lies in the strong themes and exemplary performances… devastating in their beauty.”

Silent Film Screenings with New Live Music by Alicia Svigals, violin and Donald Sosin, piano

Alicia Svigals and Donald Sosin have been bringing audiences to their feet throughout the US and Europe with
their unique and stirring violin and piano scores for Jewish-themed silent films. Sosin is one of the world’s top silent
film musicians, and Svigals is the world’s leading klezmer violinist and a founder of the Grammy-winning Klezmatics.
After meeting at a silent film festival in Italy in 2017, the two recorded their first original score for the 1923 German
film The Ancient Law, soon followed by The City Without Jews, both released on DVD/Blu-ray by Flicker Alley.
Their third opus, for the 1992 satire The Man Without a World by San Diego-based performance artist Eleanor
Antin, will be released by Milestone Films.

Alicia Svigals is the world’s leading klezmer fiddler and a founder of the Grammy-winning Klezmatics. She has performed with and written for violinist Itzhak Perlman, and has worked with the the Kronos Quartet, playwrights Tony Kushner and Eve Ensler, poet Allen Ginsburg, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Debbie Friedman and Chava Albershteyn. Svigals was awarded a Foundation for Jewish Culture commission for her original score to the 1918 film The Yellow Ticket, and is a MacDowell fellow.

Donald Sosin (“the top of the line of film pianists”— Leonard Maltin, critic/author) has performed his scores for silent films, often with his wife, singer/percussionist Joanna Seaton, at Lincoln Center, MoMA, the National Gallery, and major film festivals in New York, San Francisco, Telluride, Hollywood, Pordenone, Bologna, Shanghai, Bangkok, Berlin, Stockholm, Vienna, Moscow, and Jecheon, South Korea. He records for Criterion, Kino, Milestone and Flicker Alley, and his scores are heard frequently on TCM. Sosin has had commissions from MoMA, the Chicago Symphony Chorus, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.

The Ancient Law: 135 minutes

Ewald André Dupont’s 1923 silent film The Ancient Law (Das alte Gesetz) is an important piece of German-Jewish cinematic history, contrasting the closed world of an Eastern European shtetl with the liberal mores of 1860s Vienna. With its historically authentic set design and ensemble of prominent actors, The Ancient Law is an outstanding example of the creativity of Jewish filmmakers in 1920s Germany. Beautifully restored by Deutsche Kinemathek.

The City Without Jews: 80 minutes

Set in the Vienna-like city of Utopia, H. K. Breslauer’s 1924 The City Without Jews (Die Stadt ohne Juden) follows the political and personal consequences of an anti-Semitic law to expel the city’s Jews. When things start to decline, the National Assembly must decide whether to invite the Jews back. The film’s stinging critique of Nazism is part of the reason it was no longer screened in public after 1933. Restored by Filmarchiv Austria.

The Man Without a World: 98 minutes

A unique group of Polish villagers—Jews, Cossacks, vagabonds— in the 1920s in a tale of romance, love, marriage, social struggles and death. A stunning film that seems to have been made in the Soviet era, but was really shot in San Diego in 1992 by groundbreaking artist Eleanor Antin. Lovingly restored by Milestone Films.