Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

thescroll_header

Ang Lee Takes Woodstock

With the help of a bunch of Jews

Print Email
Lee at a Woodstock Film Festival screening of Taking Woodstock last week.(Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Focus Features)

Continuing the 40th-anniversary-of-Woodstock festivities, director Ang Lee has a new movie coming out, Taking Woodstock. It’s based on a memoir by Elliot Tiber, whose family owned an old-school Jewish bungalow colony in Bethel, New York, the Catskills town where the music festival took place. (No, Virginia, it wasn’t actually held in Woodstock.) In this telling, Tiber (played by Demetri Martin) was a closeted gay Manhattanite who returned home to help his parents with their failing motel; to drum up business, he arranged for a friend with a spare cow pasture to host a music festival that no neighboring towns wanted. Chaos, culture clash, and an iconic event of the 1960s ensued.

Lee told the Los Angeles Jewish Journal that the idea for the movie came about when he met an eagerly self-promotional Tiber at a talk show both were appearing on. Remembering the impact Woodstock made on him as a 14-year-old in repressive Taiwan, and eager to make a comedy after a string of depressing films (Brokeback Mountain; Lust, Caution), he took on the project. But did the director, known for his skill in capturing the feel of diverse times and places, find it a challenge to capture the feel of the waning Jewish world of the Catskills? Not really, he told the Journal, as everyone he works with, including writing partner James Schamus, is Jewish.

“I feel that Jewish people know Chinese people very well,” he said in the interview. “James, for example, understood me well even before I spoke fluent English; he would write my scripts as early as The Wedding Banquet, reading Chinese poetry, philosophy and literature as background, and then try to write the dialogue, and I would ask, ‘What is that?’ And out of frustration, he would give up and just write the characters like Jews, and I would say, ‘Oh, that’s very Chinese.’”

Ang Lee’s Catskills Culture Clash [Jewish Journal]

Print Email
2000

Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Ang Lee Takes Woodstock

With the help of a bunch of Jews

More on Tablet:

Romance Bloomed for a Jew and an Asian American, Until Tribalism Trumped Love

By E. Tammy Kim — I said I’d convert to placate my boyfriend. But his family would never disregard the fact that I was Korean.