LES Love Story ‘It Happened in Havana’ Makes TV Debut Tomorrow [INTERVIEW]

Posted on: April 13th, 2016 at 10:26 am by

This image has been archived or removed.

Photo courtesy of Judy Schiller

Here’s one you won’t want to miss.

A little over a year ago, Judy Schiller’s directorial debut, It Happened in Havana: A Yiddish Love Story  premiered at Dixon Place on the Chrystie Street. Now it’s headed to public television for all to enjoy.

To recap: the love story focuses on an elderly Jewish couple (Schiller’s parents, to be more specific) who look back at their childhoods on the Lower East Side of New York City and Eastern Europe, their courtship in Cuba, and their life together in New York. It features personal and archival photographs, poignant period footage, and priceless home movies from the 1920s through 1950s.

It’s a captivating documentary, feeling as intimate as sitting on a couch listening to old, enchanting stories in matter-of-fact tones at a family party. After watching it, we reached out to Schiller to learn more about what went into her inspiring project.

Bowery Boogie: What about your parents’ story inspired you to create the film?

Judy Schiller: My parents were very old, but very sharp and with it, and my dad remembered living without electricity in Manhattan. I figured there were not too many people left on the planet who had that experience. Also they were married for 61 years at the time, and most people don’t stay married that long anymore. Might be some good insights there, too.

BB: Had you previously seen the footage from your parents’ childhoods when you were growing up, or was this something that was unearthed once you took on this project?

JS: I had seen all the home movies before. Once in a while, my dad would take out the projector and we would watch them.

BB: What was the biggest challenge you faced?

JS: My biggest challenge was coming up with a title. I had a different one for a long time and was told I couldn’t use it. I really struggled with that, and finally asked for suggestions from friends and used a combination of two people’s suggestions.

BB:  What do you hope viewers will take away from this love story?

JS: I heard that we go to the movies for three reasons; to laugh, to cry, and to learn more. If you hit all three, then I did my job.

This image has been archived or removed.

BB: That you did. One particular moment stood out at the end of the film, when your dad goes to help your mom out of the living room – a unassuming act of love. Would you say that this moment was representative of their relationship?

JS: My parents did have a very loving relationship, but my mother had Parkinson’s and was not steady on her feet, so he might have just done that automatically.

BB: How has the reception been for It Happened in Havana?

JS: The reception of the film has been great! Really great! Among Jews, Cubans, and everyone who has parents like mine. They can relate. Also, immigrants can really relate to my mom.

BB: After going through this process, do you have more cinematic aspirations for the future?

JS: I have been working on a feature film script. It is the following: three people, New York, romance, heartache, comedy. Think a female version of Woody Allen.

You can catch this love story on Thursday, April 14 on THIRTEEN, New York’s public television station, at 10:30 PM ET, and it will be rebroadcast on Tuesday, April 19 at 4:30 AM ET.

Recent Stories

Owners of Gertie Eye Market Street for ‘Jackie’ (Updated)

Huertas and Gertie meet for Jackie. That is the narrative for a new restaurant in Two Bridges that features the owners behind both aforementioned establishments. Indeed, Nathan Adler and Rachel Jackson (principals behind Brooklyn’s Gertie) are planning a new Italian-American restaurant at 42 Market Street. The fourteen table concept, dubbed Jackie, will feature “good food […]

Trash Talk: Taking Stock of the Constant Pileup on Rivington Street

The Lower East Side, whose residents are struggling amidst sanitation budget cuts, under-maintained restaurant sheds, and absent landlords and/or vacant leaseholders, suffer the scourge of refuse. One Rivington Street resident walked much of the length of the east-west stretch to find – and document – how trash buildup, stagnating pools of mystery sludge, dilapidated street shanties, and overall […]

Uncapped: Nobody Beats IZ THE WIZ

  IZ the WIZ: hands down one of the most illustrious and renowned graffiti writers in and outside of our fair city. May he continue to Rest in Peace. In this installation of Uncapped, guest contributor, Freddy Alva, is back with an excerpt from the new issue of his Black Book Series magazine: Pound for […]

Four Teenagers Arrested with Loaded Guns at PUBLIC Hotel on Chrystie Street

Four teens were busted with three loaded guns inside the PUBLIC Hotel this week. Jarell Swan (19), Anton Philips (18), Linwood Spruill (18), and an unidentified 15-year-old boy were arrested at the swanky, 28-story Chrystie Street lodge on Wednesday, and charged with weapons possession. The four friends were reportedly smoking weed in their room shortly […]

No Return in Sight for Tenants and Businesses Displaced by Mulberry Street Fire

Months after the deadly fire at 78 Mulberry Street, displaced tenants – residential and commercial – are still waiting for renovations to begin. The two-alarm fire broke out at 78 Mulberry Street just before 4:00am on April 15. Roughly one hundred firefighters responded to extinguish the flames, which reportedly spread from the fifth floor. The […]