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Sweatshop Cinderella: A Portrait of Anzia Yezierska
A film by Suzanne Wasserman
2010, 27 minutes, Color, DVD
Order No. W101000
In the forefront of early twentieth-century American literature about immigrant women’s lives, Anzia Yezierska’s work includes short fiction, novels, and essays, and her output spans 50 years. SWEATSHOP CINDERELLA, by award-winning filmmaker/historian Suzanne Wasserman, vividly depicts this Jewish immigrant writer’s amazing story.

Arriving from Poland around 1890, Yezierska’s family settled on the Lower East Side, where she toiled in sweatshops and laundries, studying English at night. Defying her parents, she pursued her education and became a teacher. Twice married and divorced, she also had a daughter. At the urging of philosopher John Dewey, with whom she fell in and out of love, Yezierska devoted herself full-time to writing stories and novels in Yiddish-English dialect that won awards and rave reviews. Soon Hollywood, which turned two of her works into movies, beckoned her to write screenplays. When disenchantment with that world set in, she returned to New York, writing and publishing her best work between 1922 and 1950.

Using archival stills and footage, silent film excerpts, letters, newspaper clippings, and interviews, this is a major contribution to our understanding and appreciation of Yezierska and her work.



AWARDS, FESTIVALS, & SCREENINGS

  • Citizen Jane Film Festival

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QUOTES

    “An artful rendering of a fascinating story that's barely been told,…a must-see for those with a range of interests: Jewish-American history, women's studies, ethnic American cultures and immigrant history.”
    Baz Dreisinger
    Asst. Professor of English, John Jay College/CUNY

    “Wasserman's trademark mix of personal reflection, archival revelation and historical sleuthing reanimates Yezierska for a new generation.”
    Elisa New
    Professor of English, Harvard University

    “An evocative portrait of Yezierska's struggle to transform her experiences as a poor, immigrant Jewish woman into timeless literature that still moves us deeply today. Highly recommended for high school and college students alike."
    Daniel Czitrom
    Professor of History, Mount Holyoke College

    “Captures Yezierska's spark and her sadness beautifully in this poignant, evocative film...It is like sitting in on an intimate conversation across nearly a century—about what it means to be a Jewish woman, a writer, an immigrant, a searching spirit, a hungry heart.”
    Annelise Orleck
    Professor of History, Dartmouth University

    “Yezierska evokes the early twentieth-century experience of immigration from a woman’s perspective. Her novels and short stories speak to the dreams of poverty-stricken young women and the difficulties of leaving an old world as they adapt to a new one.”
    Alice Kessler-Harris
    R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of History, Columbia University

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    Sweatshop Cinderella: A Portrait of Anzia Yezierska is included in the following Special Collections.
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SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

WMM offers film collections on a variety of specific subject areas, including the collections MUSLIM: Behind the Veil, BODY IMAGE: Women & Young Girls, and AFRICA IS A WOMAN'S NAME.

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