Tiffany Shlain’s The Tribe

A grade school buddy of mine now living in Shanghai passed along a link to this terrific short film, The Tribe, made a few years ago by Tiffany Shlain (thanks, Les!). You can watch the trailer at the end of my post, order it from her website, or see it online, unofficially.

What can the most successful doll on the planet show us about being Jewish today? Narrated by Peter Coyote, the film mixes old school narration with a new school visual style. The Tribe weaves together archival footage, graphics, animation, Barbie dioramas, and slam poetry to take audiences on an electric ride through the complex history of both the Barbie doll and the Jewish people- from Biblical times to present day. By tracing Barbie’s history, the film sheds light on the questions: What does it mean to be an American Jew today? What does it mean to be a member of any tribe in the 21st Century?

When people ask how I identify myself I usually answer Jewish. Not in the religious sense but culturally and as my ethnicity. People who think of themselves as Italian, Australian or Chinese may not understand my answer for me it’s as reasonable as what they say.

Nota bene: I wanted to write more but time is just getting away from me so this short entry will have to suffice.

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