Film Screening and Discussion: Red State to Golden State: Soviet Jewish Immigration to the City of Angels, An Oral History

The Autry National Center, Los Angeles, California
December 15, 2013 | 2 PM

Soviet Jewish Film

The Wende presented the Director’s Cut of a new documentary about the Soviet Jewish immigrant experience in Los Angeles. The film, directed by Mark Hayes, follows several Jewish families who left the former Soviet Union to settle in Los Angeles during the 1970s and 1980s. The personal cross-generational testimonies demonstrate the myriad challenges Russian Jews faced in a Cold War communist society and the process of adapting to new cultural norms in Southern California. Eugene Alper, an émigré himself, is the film’s host.

A discussion followed the film screening and was moderated by David Burton, director of The Institute for the Study of the American West.

Admission to the screening was included in The Autry Museum’s admission fee for the day of the film screening. For further information about hours and admission, please visit the Autry Museum’s website.

This project was made possible with support from Cal Humanities, an independent non-profit organization and a partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information, visit www.calhum.org.

Special thanks for additional support from Rick A. Feldman and Susan Horowitz, Elaine and Bram Goldsmith, The Goldsmith Family Foundation, Homeira and Arnold Goldstein, Ed and Peggy Robin, as well as the contributors to a Kickstarter campaign for assistance with post-production costs.

Biographical Notes

The Director Mark Hayes’ background is in television production. He lived in East Germany in the year preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall and was present in Berlin on the day of reunification shooting footage for ABC. Hayes first visited East Germany in 1981. He estimates that he made more than forty visits before the Wall fell in 1989. He directed One Germany, One Year After (1991), a documentary that aired on many public television stations in the US. He has produced and directed documentaries on various subjects including Rebound, which highlighted championship wheelchair basketball, and Svoboda Means Freedom, about a young KGB victim returning to Ukraine to retrieve her child. Hayes recently directed the documentary One Germany: The Other Side of the Wall. The one-hour production examines life in Germany twenty years after reunification. Those in the East embrace their new freedom, but still struggle with the psychological wall that still separates them from their fellow countrymen in the West. Hayes has taught screenwriting at Southern Methodist University and is a member of the Writers Guild of America. He works with his wife Gabriele Hayes in Dallas and Los Angeles.  

The film’s Host and Interviewer Eugene Alper graduated with a Master’s Degree in Theater, before emigrating from the Soviet Union in 1989, and was considered a leading actor of his generation in St. Petersburg, his work enjoying positive reviews and a dedicated following. Eugene has kept close touch with Russian culture and embraced his new life of opportunity by pursuing various creative interests.  He continues to work as an actor and also works for the City of West Hollywood where he once served as Outreach Specialist to the Soviet Jewish community.