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  • Revolutionary Visions: Jewish Life and Politics in Latin American Film by Stephanie Pridgeon
  • Ariana Huberman
Pridgeon, Stephanie. Revolutionary Visions: Jewish Life and Politics in Latin American Film. U of Toronto P, 2021. 194 pp.

The focus of this book is the lesser-known story of Latin American Jews involved in left-leaning political groups from the 1960s onward as portrayed in film. Pridgeon highlights, for the first time, the role of Jewish political participation in the'60s and '70s, a topic that has recently resurfaced during the Latin American "Pink Tide" (1998-2015). She shows how films are an ideal medium to portray the geopolitical conflicts brought about by the Cold War, which are sadly still relevant in today's political landscape. Artistic representations of left-leaning Jews is an area of research that had not received scholarly attention before. With this book, Pridgeon contributes a much-needed study of this subject, as well as a "new praxis of Jewish Latin American film studies" (9).

The introduction offers an innovative and thorough theoretical and historical framework. It provides historical background in order to introduce the role of Jews in Latin American film over time as well as the history of filmic depictions of revolutionary movements in the region. It links the Jewish involvement in revolutionary movements to ideologies that Jews brought from the [End Page 111] old world, such as anarchism and socialism. Pridgeon thereby treats an important and underexplored aspect of these communities that responds to Ranan Rein's call to study secular, unaffiliated Jews in Latin America.

Key to this study is the problem that Pridgeon articulates as follows: "While many Jews did indeed participate in Latin America's revolutionary movements, the degree to which Jews participated as Jews—that is, without compromising elements of Jewish identities—remains an open question" (17). This is an important issue, given that revolutionary groups strongly sided with the Palestinian cause and against Zionism. The issue is also connected to Pridgeon's discussion of the concept of posthegemony, which is particularly helpful for delving into the complexities behind the intense debates over progressivism and Zionism that have become exacerbated by the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I applaud the author for daring to tread into this thorny topic, because it opens up a Pandora's box that has split Jewish communities around the world. But her careful and thoughtful analysis offers answers to some difficult questions. As León Rozitchner asks: must you reject Israel/Zionism to be left-leaning? In order to be preoccupied with Latin America must you renounce your preoccupation with the state of Israel? What does it mean be pro-Israel and anti-Zionist? Besides working through these difficult questions, Pridgeon makes the case that film provides a window into the multiple political affinities and cultures of Latin American Jews.

Chapter one delineates very clearly why it is essential to focus on the role of Christianity when talking about revolutionary movements and Jews in film. The chapter's in-depth analysis of what is Jewish in Judeo-Christian ideology within the credo of Argentine guerrilla movements offers important insights, and the section dedicated to the history of revolutionary filmmaking offers helpful context for understanding the films studied throughout the book. Chapter two offers additional valuable insights on lesser-known films that feature Jews describing their political involvement, its impact on their families, and—as Pridgeon shows—its effect on national histories. Her analysis of Cintia Chamecki's film Danken Got introduces a little-known dimension of Latin American Jewry: the Curitiba community and its history of local political involvement, while the section on Alejandro Jodorowsky's films includes an effective reading of how Jewish immigrants (recreations of Jodorowsky's family and himself as a child) can think of themselves as connected to political leaders in Chile.

The films discussed in Chapter three are well known: Guita Schyfter's Novia que te vea (1993) and Jeanine Meerapfel's El amigo alemán (2012). In this chapter, Pridgeon focuses on how gender, like religious identification, limits Jews' integration into revolutionary movements. She also shows how Jewishness and politics enter into tension with a sense of belonging to the national sphere...