Price: $310.00

    Code: 2248

    Directed by Alexander Gutman
    2006, 52 Minutes
    Purchase: $310 Classroom Rental: $125

    A beautiful and poetic film about the last remaining Jews in Birobidzhan, the world's first Jewish autonomous region, established in a distant corner of Siberia in the 1920s.

    In Search of Happiness follows the story of Boris Rak, an erudite elderly man whose parents were among the first Jewish settlers in Birobidzhan, and his wife Masha. A former Chairman of the last Jewish collective farm, Boris now stares wistfully at portraits of his children and grandchildren, who like many others, have since emigrated to Israel or America. In their kitchen hangs a crucifix; in their yard, a small number of pigs (which they name after Russian political figures - Yeltsin, Chubais, etc.). Every spring, Boris and Masha make their way past dilapidated buildings and abandoned synagogues to visit the cemetery where their parents are buried and where tombstones are marked with little red stars. They have long since forgotten the dates of Jewish holidays, and no longer maintain religious customs or traditions, yet every so often, Boris will retrieve an old gramophone from the cupboard, put on a dusty Jewish record, and quietly sing along in Yiddish.

    A poignant and moving documentary, In Search of Happiness mixes fascinating archival footage and old Soviet newsreels, with bucolic images of village life to reveal the strange history of the Jewish Autonomous Region, which even today remains a strong symbol of Jewish faith.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * Official Selection, Director's Fortnight, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2007
    * Winner, Best Documentary, Russian Film Festival, 2006
    * Honorable Mention, Cinema du Reel Film Festival, 2006
    * Official Selection, Leipzig Festival for Documentary Films, 2006
    * Official Selection, Docpoint Film Festival, 2006


    “Very fascinating! This gem of a production gives the audience a ‘slice of life’ view of some of the last residents in Birobidzhan…. Highly recommended!” - Educational Media Reviews Online