ITHACA, NY—Edward Sloman’s silent film, “His People,” has been around since 1925, but the world won’t hear Ithaca College faculty member Peter Rothbart’s original soundtrack until Sunday, April 1. That’s when Ithaca College’s Finger Lakes Environment Film Festival (FLEFF) will present the film and two live world premiere performances of Rothbart’s score at Cinemapolis in Ithaca. Beginning at 2:15 and 7:15 p.m., the screenings will feature the Laptop Orchestra and IC Klezmorim playing Rothbart’s music.
Tickets for each event cost $15 ($12 with a festival pass). All proceeds will benefit the nonprofit 7th Art Corporation, a major collaborator of FLEFF and operator of Cinemapolis and Fall Creek Pictures. A special commission by the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, the screenings are a collaborative partnership with the National Center for Jewish Film.
With evocative images of the Lower East Side in the 1920s (reproduced on a Hollywood soundstage in Los Angeles), “His People” shows how large population centers are sites of combustion between immigrants, ethnicities and religions. Rothbart’s score brings to life the triumphs and struggles of immigrant and Jewish life in this recently rediscovered and rarely screened landmark silent film. Combining electronic music with klezmorim and other instrumentation and sound design, Rothbart’s music explores the themes of assimilation and the continuity of culture.
“His People” tells the story of how two sons of a poor Russian-Jewish pushcart peddler on New York’s Lower East Side are both causing their father grief. Morris, a selfish, ambitious student, wants to become a lawyer—and hides his background from his friends. Sammy gets a job to help pay his brother’s college education, and to his father’s horror, becomes a prizefighter and plans to marry an Irish girl. As Morris and Sammy stray from traditions cherished by their parents, each generation learns to accept change in order to preserve the family as a source of love and respect.
According to film historian Lester Friedman, “Sloman’s compelling vision of the painful depths and joyous heights of immigrant life endow the film with an exuberant vitality that captivates modern filmgoers and enlightens film historians.”
A professor of music theory, history and composition and director of electroacoustic and recording studies at the Ithaca College School of Music, Rothbart is active as a composer, performer, writer and artist, with performances and art shows throughout the United States, Europe and Russia. His music is published by Seesaw Press, Lorenzo Music and the International Trumpet Guild.
For more information on “His People” or FLEFF, contact festival coordinators Patricia Zimmermann at (607) 351-4334 or email@example.com, or Tom Shevory at (607) 274-1347 or firstname.lastname@example.org