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The Popovich Brothers of South Chicago


(1977) 60 minutes, with Ethel Raim and Martin Koenig

DVD available at Facets Multimedia, 800-331-6197
You can stream the entire film at http://www.folkstreams.net/film,40

A musical study of the endurance of ethnic cultural traditions among immigrant communities in the United States - in this case, a portrait of the Popovich Brothers, a family of four superb musicians who have been playing for their now 5th generation Serbian-American community for 50 years.

In the 1970's, America discovered ethnicity - 'roots' were suddenly something to be proud of. But for tens of millions of American, ethnicity is and always has been a fact of life... a primary source of sustenance and a means of survival. There is a community of 1100 families in South Chicago who call themselves Serbian-Americans. They work in steel mills, drive trucks, teach school...they play tennis and gold, watch television and go to church on Sunday. But what connects them to their family, church and community, and provides the deepest expression of their identity is their traditional Serbian music... and the Popovich Brothers have been a constant source of that music for the past 50 years.

These four brothers, now in their sixties, have been playing for their community at church picnics, basketball tournaments, weddings and dances... in taverns and clubs since their teens. Their spirit, musicianship and family feeling have come to represent the very best and most beloved expression of Serbian cultural identity.

Through their lives - past and present - the film offers a picture of the classical immigrant experience in its most positive manifestation: a small community of mostly blue-collar families, who, 75 years after their ancestors arrived in this country, still maintain their affection and identification with their old-world heritage without isolating themselves from the values and lifestyle of mainstream America.

 

from New York Magazine, David Denby
"The film affirms the power of music in a way that can't be done in a dozen books on folk culture, and one is left exhilarated, moved and extremely grateful."

from the Chicago Reader, Ruby Rich
"Godmilow has given us and the Serbian-American community a beautiful film of validation and a permanent visibility that all ethnic groups deserve."

from the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert
THE POPOVICH BROTHERS is filled with songs and life, with the lilting, driving, and sometimes sad music of Serbia...It marvels at the fact that an ethnic musical culture can not only survive to the third and fourth generation in America, but prosper."

 

selected festivals
London Film Festival
Sydney Film Festival
Edinburgh International Film Festival
Festival International De Cinema, Nyon
The Margaret Mead Film Festival
Centre Georges Pompidou, "L'Homme Regarde L'Homme', Paris