Sholem Aleichem had a unique ability to weave a nostalgia for a changing culture with the humor and ironies of shtetl life. His stories and novels reflect not only the Jewish Experience, but the experiences of all immigrants who yearned for the shores of America, whether Irish, Italian, Asian, or Eastern European. It is what makes Sholem Aleichem’s work universal, no matter its language of origin, and why Fiddler on the Roof remains a mainstay of American, and even international theater. But more than that, Laughing in the Darkness also explores the creative inner-workings of a genius of the written word.
Despite the folksiness of his Yiddish tales, Sholem Aleichem was a well-educated intellectual—a journalist. He wrote in the language of the people—Yiddish, in itself daring. When he died in 1916, his funeral in New York was attended by 200,000 people, a testament to the man and the legacy he would leave Jews and non-Jews alike—all over the world.
Laughing in the Darkness has been making the film festival circuit and has been playing at art-house theatres in limited release across the U.S. It opens in Baltimore this weekend. Upcoming screenings are listed on the film's official website.