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Boston Jewish Film Festival

Boston Jewish Film Festival 2018

The Jewish Studies Program co-sponsored the opening night film Sammy Davis Jr: I’ve Gotta Be Me at this year’s Boston Jewish Film Festival.

A documentary of Sammy Davis Jr.’s life, the film explores various facets of this complex, charismatic performer. Touching on the biographical details of his life, the film recounts his astonishing performing ability at a very young age, the consequences of which included depriving him of an education; his defiance of expected behavior for a black man both as a performer and in his personal life; a severe auto accident that eventually led to his conversion to Judaism; his troubled marriages; his politics; his eventual inability to quite catch up with changing musical tastes and political winds; and his final illness, which threatened his very identity.

The film makes it clear that Sammy Davis Jr. was at once a luminary artist, a man who crossed societal boundaries and was also hampered by them, a man ahead of his time and a man whom time passed by.

Watching footage of the sheer genius of his talent, one could only reflect on the life circumstances and prejudice that kept that talent from being fully realized, acknowledged, and appreciated.

The film was shown four times during the festival to full houses.  The Jewish Studies Program is grateful for the co-sponsorship of the Department of Music and the Media and Screen Studies Program in the College of Arts, Media and Design.

Read the rest of the Fall 2018 Newsletter here.

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