|Directed by:||Mort Ransen||Rating:||TV-PG|
|Release Date:||1985||Running Time:||24 min|
|More Info:||Based on a short story by Mordecai Richler||Category:||Feature Films|
From internationally-renowned writer Mordecai Richler comes this short comedic drama that explores the nuances of anti-Semitism through the story of an eccentric Jewish intellectual. Shalinsky, a cavalier university student, is convinced that professor Mortimer Griffin is guilty of changing his name, suspecting the instructor of hiding his Jewish identity.
After listening attentively to Griffin’s analysis of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, all the other students file out of the classroom, but Shalinsky lingers to compliment his teacher. After offering words of praise, between puffs of his cigarette, he asks pointedly, “Why did you change your name? You’re a Jew.”
Shalinsky’s motives for posing the question aren’t entirely innocent. But Griffin’s offended reaction leads the headstrong wise guy to badger the truth out of his clean-cut, mild-mannered teacher. What started as a gentle debate rapidly escalates to reveal a boiling rage in a seemingly normal guy. As the plot unwinds, a series of unpredictable events lead to an intriguing conclusion.
Griffin’s story raises the question about what it means to be Jewish. Is it a belief, a code of behavior, or a lineage? What is it that separates a Jewish man from any other man? After complimenting his Jewish friends for preparing delicious gefilte fish, Griffin recounts his obstinate student’s probing questions and insists, “I’m not — I’m not anything like Jewish!”
Throughout, Shalinsky’s charismatic character and disarming smile charms the viewer and excuses what might otherwise be understood as aggressive or manipulative behavior, leaving it a little ambiguous as to whether he’s the story’s aggressor or its victim. In his own words, Shalinsky says, “Let’s put it this way, I’m not the type of person that sits and watches. Whatever I have to do, I do.”