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Ladino: 500 Years Young

Directed by Rina Papish

Israel | 52 minutes | 2006

Ladino, Spanish, Hebrew with English subtitles

Yasmin Levy, an electrifying 29-year-old Israeli singer, is following in the footsteps of her father, Yitzhak Levy, a revered singer who dedicated his life to recording and documenting the musical culture of Ladino, the ancient language of the Jews of Spain. Since her father died when she was only one, Yasmin knows him only through his songs, but she has taken it upon herself to immortalize and disseminate the musical legacy that he helped preserve. Ladino follows Yasmin on a powerful and exciting singing tour in Israel and Spain. Since their expulsion from Spain in 1492, generations of Sephardic Jews succeeded in maintaining the Ladino language, a hybrid of Hebrew, Spanish, Turkish and Greek. Like its Eastern European counterpart Yiddish, Ladino is not merely a language but a culture, kept alive in part by a rich musical tradition of songs and melodies. But today’s descendants of Ladino speakers are fast losing touch with Ladino; even in Israel, where approximately 200,000 people still speak or understand some Ladino, this rich and beautiful culture is in danger of becoming extinct. Some Israelis view it as a tragic, diasporic language, but Levy is determined to keep it alive.
Director Rina Papish
Countries of Production Israel
Year of Presentation 2006
Language(s) Ladino, Spanish, Hebrew with English subtitles
Premiere Status
Runtime 52 minutes
Principal Cast Yasmin Levy
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