A STORY OF SPIRIT AND SURVIVAL
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JEWS OF THE WILD WEST

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JWW Trailer 2022
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ABOUT

The film may have been silent, but the impact was that of a loud bang. “The Great Train Robbery,” known as the first American Western, would prove to be one of the most influential films in cinema. The year was 1903 and tales of the Wild West were quickly spreading throughout the world. In the film, Broncho Billy Anderson plays four roles. He is considered the first film celebrity cowboy and became so iconic that he was immortalized on a US stamp, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is honored in the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma. Fun fact? Broncho Bill was actually named Max Aronson and the son of Jewish immigrants.

 

Western Jewish pioneers, those of the silver screen and real life, are a largely forgotten chapter in US History. And yet, they played a definitive role shaping the expansion of the United States. There were nationally known names such as Levi Strauss, Samsonite founder Jesse Shwayder and the Guggenheim family, who built their great fortunes through grit and determination in California and Colorado. A young Golda Meir spent formative years in Denver. And there were also lesser-known characters such as Solomon Bibo, a Prussian immigrant, who became a non-Native American tribal leader in New Mexico and Solomon Carvalho, a Sephardic painter and photographer who spent the mid-1800s documenting the territories of Kansas, Colorado and Utah. Wyatt Earp’s wife, Josephine Marcus Earp, was a Jewish actress whose beauty is rumored to have triggered the fight at the OK Corral. And by the end of the 19th Century nearly every notorious Wild West town had a Jewish mayor.

 

The wagon trains that moved westward with Jewish families traveled for the same reason as many settlers: opportunity. Continuous cycles of anti-Jewish oppression, deadly violence and forced poverty in Europe forced over two million Jewish refugees to seek out a better life in America. The antisemitism and tenements found in New York City, however, did not offer the respite many Jews were seeking. By 1912, it is estimated over 100,000 Jews had migrated to the Wild West. They put down roots and, today, they epitomize the important legacy of immigration in America. 

“Jews of the Wild West” is a feature length documentary. The independent not-for-profit film is produced by Electric Yolk Media and directed by award-winning filmmaker Amanda Kinsey. Through on-camera interviews, compelling footage, and historical photographs, the film tells a positive immigration story and highlights the dynamic contributions Jewish Americans made to shaping the Western United States. The film premiered at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival in early 2022. 

 

"Jews of the Wild West" is funded through individual donors, grants and crowdsourcing. All donations are made through our fiscal sponsor the Colorado Forum Fund and any profits made by the film's distribution will be donated to the Rose Community Foundation. All contributions to the film are deeply appreciated. 

 
 

FILMMAKER

"Jews of the Wild West" is directed by Amanda Kinsey. Amanda is an independent filmmaker, five-time Emmy Award winning producer and fourth-generation photojournalist. Prior to founding her own production company, Electric Yolk Media in 2013, she spent over a decade writing and producing for NBC News. During that time, she was also awarded with several Edward R. Murrow Awards, National Headliner Awards and a Gracie Allen Award.
 
In 2010, Amanda won an Emmy for her Today Show story “The Fighting Grossmans” about a Jewish American family with eight soldier sons in WWII. Her most recent productions are an hour long documentary for PBS’s “Treasures of New York” and a docuseries for VICE Sports. Amanda holds a B.A. from Barnard College and an M.B.A from Columbia Business School.
 
Five years ago, Amanda relocated from Brooklyn to Denver with her family. She is not Jewish and sees this project as an important act of allyship with the goal of amplifying Jewish voices. Her passion for the Wild West is personal. Amanda's grandmother was born in Denver and once jumped out of an airplane for $100, her great-grandparents ran a photography studio in Butte, Montana at the turn of the century and her great-great-grandfather owned a San Francisco saloon during the California Gold Rush.
 
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INTERVIEWS

A documentary is as much about storytellers as it is stories. We have been lucky enough to interview some incredible people with ties to this period of history. Follow this slideshow for more background on a some of the film’s interviewees.

SCREENINGS 

 

Film festivals and screenings are updated frequently. Please check back for more as they become available. For inquiries regarding private screenings, such as for synagogues and schools, please contact us directly.

  • Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, February 16-27, 2022

  • Chicago Jewish Film Festival, March 10-13, 2022

  • Vancouver Jewish Film Festival, March 3-20, 2022

  • Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival, April 8-15, 2022

  • Arizona International Film Festival (Tucson, AZ), May 1, 2022

  • Denver JCC Mizel Arts & Culture Center, May 5, 2022

  • Centro Sefarad-Israel (Madrid, Spain), May 9th & 17th, 2022

  • Graland Country Day School (Denver) June 1, 2022

  • Philadelphia Jewish Film and Media, June 23 & August 11, August 14-18, 2022

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  • Nashville Jewish Film Festival, October 13-15, 2022

  • Santa Barbara Jewish Film Festival, November 6, 2022

  • Boulder Jewish Film Festival, November 13, 2022

  • Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience (New Orleans), September 15 & 17, 2022

  • Jacob Burns Film Center's Jewish Film Festival (Pleasantville, NY), October 8 & 19, 2022

 

CONTACT

Production Company

Electric Yolk Media

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