- Documentary feature
- Spanish & English
- Available with English or Spanish subtitles
- 75 minutes
Jews first came to the Iberian Peninsula in the sixth century. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish Jews (Sephardim) were the victims of the Spanish Inquisition, a concerted campaign to obliterate the Jewish religion and culture forever. Persecuted Sephardim were forced to convert to Catholicism, becoming “conversos,” New Christians. If they did not, they were forced to flee their homes and the lives they had built.
Those who would not renounce their faith fled to Muslim lands of the Ottoman Empire or other parts of Europe. Others took their chances in the New World. They hid their ancestry, even changing their names. The only way they could avoid imprisonment or death was if they masqueraded as converted Catholics.
They had to keep a double life… that is very complex,… very difficult for the individual, it is a constant tension between what you learned in your childhood, family tension and the family in relation to society. -- Mario Cohen Director, Sephardic Culture Research and Dissemination Center, Buenos Aires
In today’s South America, descendants of Sephardim still exist. They live in heavily Catholic countries, largely isolated in rural areas. Often, they are unaware of their ancestry. Families who practiced Judaism were alone; their hidden identities expressed through private Jewish ritual, such as lighting candles on Friday night and not eating pork.
Known as “crypto-Jews,” many have decided to embrace their religious heritage at considerable personal cost. Their alienation, living in Catholic homelands, is exacerbated by local Conservative Jewish communities that claim to have a monopoly on faith and reject the legitimacy of their conversions.
These individuals’ longing to be Jews and their ensuing struggle illuminates the Inquisition’s consequences centuries after the fact.
Gabriela Böhm, Producer/Director
Gabriela Bohm is an award-winning director of heart-wrenching documentaries that explore cultural identity and stories of resilience, inspiring people of all faiths. Her film The Longing won several awards including a 2009 Telly Award for Religion/Spirituality. Passages won Best Documentary at the Woodstock Film Festival and other awards. A native of Argentina, she studied art in Israel, received a BFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and now is a US citizen.
Guillermo Zappino, Director of Photography
Guillermo Zappino has been a cinematographer for over 13 years. His film credits include the Böhm Productions documentary, The Longing: The Forgotten Jews of South America, Cohen v. Rossi, Alma Mia, El Día Que Me Amen and Anita. Zappino has been DP on numerous television projects and miniseries including the 13-episode HBO series, Epitafios I & II, and has worked in high definition on versions of the 23-episode mini-series Amas de Casa Desesperadas (Desperate Housewives) for Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil and Univision.
Jonathan Brock, Co-editor
Jonathan Brock has edited documentaries and nonfiction projects for film, television and DVD. His credits range from IMAX trailers to E! The True Hollywood Story to Discovery Channel programs to Robert Greenwald’s Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price.
Miriam Cutler, Composer
Miriam Cutler has been writing, producing and performing music for over 20 years. She has underscored more than 20 feature films and TV series, as well as numerous documentaries including Lost in La Mancha, Licensed to Kill, Pandemic: Facing AIDS, Positively Naked and Scout’s Honor. Cutler has served on documentary film festival juries and as a mentor for the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Composer Lab.
Mitchell Block: Founder, Direct Cinema Limited Distribution Company
Professor Mario Cohen: Author, Jewish Colonial America Director, Sephardic Culture Research and Dissemination Center, Buenos Aires
Professor Anita Novinsky: Associate Professor, Department of History, University of São Paulo, Brazil, Author, The Inquisition: Prisoners of Brazil, 16th to 19th Century; Anti-Semitism in Portugal and Brazil
Dr. Ellis Rivkin: Professor Emeritus of Jewish History, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, Ohio, Author, The Shaping of Jewish History