The Sound & Light Cinematic Duo - Merlin Shepherd / clarinet, bass clarinet and Polina Shepherd /piano - perform new and traditional music to accompany the Yuri Morozov Jewish Film Collection, Kiev.

The Yuri Morozov film collection (Kiev) contains some of the earliest cinematic representations of east European Jewish communities and more. Black and White silent films as early as 1910 depict the Jews of Ukraine and their daily lives in both narrative and documentary forms. The films cover many aspects of Jewish interest, from Biblical times to modern life at the beginning of the Soviet Era. Many of these films have never been seen outside of Ukraine and some have not been screened for over 80 years.

Merlin and Polina Shepherd represent two nations although their families come from very close geographical locations. At the end of the 19th Century, Merlin’s great-grandparents  emigrated from Ukraine and Romania to escape pogroms and seek a better world in the west. Polina’s grandparents escaped from the Sho’ah (Holocaust) by fleeing from Kiev/Odessa to Siberia. The different and yet vital sustenance of his western Jewish upbringing and her eastern one have brought them to a unique closeness in musical, creative and spiritual terms.

Performing as Jewish musicians would have done in the early days of cinema, Merlin and Polina Shepherd play music to accompany these silent films. Their playing acts as the perfect foil for these amazing historic documents. With their deep training, musical experience and by using tradition musical pieces and stylistically accurate new compositions, these films are magically brought back to life almost a century after their first screenings.

By transportation backwards in time with this historically accurate visual and aural experience, these two world-class musicians bring their audiences forward to a deeper understanding of former and present day Yiddishkeit.




1 L’chaim 1910 (9’20”) dir A. Mietr and K. Ganzen
The first film made that shows Jewish life from the inside. Considered to be the “birth” of Jewish cinema.

2 Sara’s Grief 1913 (13’43”)  dir  A. Arkatov.

One of the first Jewish cinema dramas about moral, religious and emotional ethics.

3 Jews and the Land 1927 (17’46”)  dir Abram Room.

This extraordinay documentary describes Soviet Russia’s attempt to create a colony of collective farms of Jews, in Crimea in the 1920s.

4 Against Fathers’ Will (Mabul) 1926 (43’30)  dir  Evgeny Ivanov-Barkov.

Based on Shalom Aleichem’s story, Flow of Blood, this film depicts the participation of Jews in the 1905 Revolution.

5 Shadows of Belvedere 1926 (1’43”), dir. A.D. Anoshenko

A fiercely anti Polish Propaganda film, about antisemitism and chauvinism in Polish Society

6 Five Brides 1930 (57 min), dir. Aleksandr Solovyov 

A peaceful Jewish village in Ukraine is under threat from the Petliurian Army unless the villagers agree to give five virgin girls for the pleasure of five Officers…

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