In the News
"Humorous and enjoyable!"
May 11, 2013 – “When Iron Man 3 came out last weekend, I told people to see Kon-Tiki instead. It was a better movie. This weekend, it's The Great Gatsby everyone is going to see, and I'm telling people they should see Hava Nagila: The Movie, instead. It's much better. » Fox 5, San Diego
"Hava Nagila: The Movie is, as is the tune, quite catchy."
May 2, 2013 – “The documentary keeps you engaged and entertained with clips of the various performers singing 'Hava Nagila' in their unique styles and in a wide range of social situations. But, it also has some serious underpinnings." » About.com
"Entertaining film with a quirky interviewee list."
April 29, 2013 – “Filmmaker Roberta Grossman uses 'Hava Nagila' and its various iterations to portray the Jewish-assimilation experience and cultural resilience ..." » Video Librarian
April 25, 2013 – “Hava Nagila (The Movie) guarantees that the next time you hear the song at a party, you won't think of it quite the same way.." » The Boston Globe
"A fun, nostalgic, informative journey!"
March 14, 2013 – "But it's the flashbacks of 'Hava Nagila' in a startling variety of movies and TV shows – plus on countless cover recordings by such diverse artists as Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis, Glen Campbell, Johnny Yune and Regina Spektor (all enjoyably interviewed here) – that truly make this valentine sing." » Los Angeles Times
"So much fun. You don't have to be Jewish to love Hava Nagila."
March 6, 2013 – "Aside from tracing the historical roots of the melody–to Ukraine–and an ongoing authorship dispute over the lyrics, what Grossman sets out to do, wonderfully, is locate 'Hava Nagila' in cultures worldwide." » NY Newsday
"Fun and illuminating."
March 5, 2013 – "Grossman and Sartain's tongue-in-cheek approach further serves to illustrate the film's primary thesis, that Jews are 'a happy people'." » moviedearest.blogspot.com
"Buoyant! The filmmakers mix the playful and serious."
February 28, 2013 – "Through the unlikely prism of this song the documentary manages to tell a complicated story of cultural adaptation while providing a fresh look at a good chunk of modern Jewish history ...." » The New York Times
"Warmly appealing! A fascinating, colorful picture. An extremely hamishe (cozy) affair."
February 28, 2013 – "Roberta Grossman has fashioned a warmly appealing documentary about it (Hava Nagila), as well as other musical aspects of Jewish life in America, which presents a fascinating, colorful picture of a people's assimilation." » Film Journal International
February 28, 2013 – "... according to Hava Nagila (The Movie), an infectiously high-spirited new documentary by Roberta Grossman, the most cornball song in the Jewish repertoire has a colorful history that has carried Ashkenazi Jews through the joy and sorrow of 150 years of being thrown around the world." » Ella Taylor, NPR
"As joyful as its namesake!"
February 28, 2013 – "From a small town in Ukraine, 'Hava Nagila' has now reached the far corners of the globe and the Internet. But is it even Jewish anymore? With opinions from the likes of Leonard Nimroy, The Klezmatics and Regina Spektor, tongue-in-cheek documentary Hava Nagila (The Movie) attempts to answer this very question." » jspace.com
"You'll leave the theater happily humming!"
February 28, 2013 – "Director Roberta Grossman and writer Sophie Sartain bring a lighthearted sense of humor to their task, which is twofold: first, to explore the history of the titular folk song, and second, to keep us interested while doing so." » NY Daily News
February 28, 2013 – "It doesn't shy away from a number of challenging questions about Jewish engagement, the Israel/Diaspora relationship, and the blooming and wilting of various strains of Jewish culture." » jewschool.com
"Documentary filmmaker has a 'Hava Nagila' in her heart."
February 27, 2013 – "With wit and scholarly research, Director Roberta Grossman takes viewers on 'Hava Nagila's' journey, from its semi-tragic origins in the 19th century Ukrainian village of Sadigora to its nearly worldwide renown as a Jewish anthem today, through Hava Nagila (The Movie)." » Jewish Journal of Greater L.A.
"Invigorating! Mazel tov!"
February 26, 2013 – "Roberta Grossman's invigorating documentary traces the roots of 'Hava Nagila' to a Ukrainian synagogue of the late 19th century, where the piece began as a wordless chant.." » Film Threat
February 25, 2013 – "This combination of history, irony, and family charm, confirm that affliction is not necessary for a doc to be effective. However, even without those splices of humor, the movie would still be compelling." » Movie Buzzers
"Absorbing! Very funny!"
February 2, 2013 – "... the movie goes deeper than just the song itself–exploring not only the origins, evolution and decline of the cultural phenomenon, but also the diaspora and evolution of Jewish culture before and after Israeli statehood." » Reel Georgia
"Richly detailed and entertaining!"
January 16, 2013 – "This richly entertaining documentary relates the history of the ubiquitous song that has been covered by everyone from Lena Horne to Elvis." » The Hollywood Reporter
"Let us rejoice! Fun and informative!"
January 16, 2013 – "Let us rejoice, for here is a fun and informative documentary that traces the origins of Hava Nagila and its importance to Jewish culture." » Palm Beach Daily News
Hava has "struck a chord everywhere."
January 14, 2013 – "Truth be told, Aly Raisman wasn't making a political statement when she selected the Jewish wedding staple "Hava Nagila" for her floor routine at last summer's Olympics in London. She just wanted something fun to clap to." » Palm Beach Post
"Fascinating! A fun and fanciful frolic."
January 13, 2013 – "Like the song itself, Hava Nagila (The Movie) is a fun and fanciful frolic into the fascinating story behind one of the most famous songs that so many know so little about." » This Week in NY
"Infectious! Vastly Entertaining!"
January 11, 2013 – "With infectious curiosity and humor, the movie covers nearly as much ground as the ubiquitous song has ..." » thejewniverse.com
Learn the Story Behind the Song.
January 10, 2013 – "... already a hit at Jewish Film Festivals ...." » The Arizona Daily Star
Light and Dark at the N.Y. Jewish Film Festival.
January 9, 2013 – "... the film is pretty smart about the stuff that matters." » The Jewish Times (New York)
How Hava Nagila Took Its Place on a Global Playlist.
October 26, 2012 – Hava Nagila was born in Eastern Europe, but became emblematic of Israel. It went global as a universal anthem of celebration and was recorded by performers ranging from Allan Sherman to Lena Horne. It evokes strong emotions – it has been denounced as "the kudzu of Jewish music" and hailed as "a profound haiku of Jewish history and identity." » The New York Times
Hava Nagilah and questions of Jewish joy.
August 8, 2012 – Both a cringe-worthy cliché and an icon of Jewish Americanism, this song shares a very simple lesson in life. » Haaretz
Be a Jew, go to the movies.
July 26, 2012 – Watching Roberta Grossman's brilliant Hava Nagila (The Movie) in the Castro Theatre last week with more than a thousand other festival goers on opening night was, if not a religious experience, certainly a celebration of Jewish community. » jweekly.com
SF Jewish Film Festival Opening – Go To It This Week.
July 22, 2012 – Hava is the hip and well-supported follow-up (to Blessed is the Match) which, judging by its keen production, sharp wit, and disarming cultural inquiry, is likely to further Grossman's reputation as a leader in her field. » Tikkun Magazine
Hava Nagila & Opening Night of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.
July 20, 2012 –Hava Nagila, a documentary about the famous tune, doesn’t take itself too seriously. Even the titles that introduce interview subjects make casual jokes. » bayflicks.net
Hava Nagila opens Jewish Film Festival.
July 15, 2012 – We all know the song. We've all seen the dance it inspires – at weddings and bar mitzvahs, either in person or in movie and television. But just what is Hava Nagila, where did it come from and what does it mean? » San Francisco Chronicle
How Hava Nagila Became a Global Hit.
July 13, 2012 – One day, in the summer of 2008, the question "Hava Nagila – what is it?" popped into Roberta Grossman's head. Although she was familiar with the ubiquitous song, she was clueless about its origins. Thus began the filmmaker's four-year quest to investigate the Jewish standard's century-and-a-half journey, from Ukraine to YouTube. » The Jewish Daily Forward
SF Jewish Film Festival finds a lively mix.
June 19, 2012 – The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival strikes a resounding musical note this year, opening with a history of Hava Nagila and ending with a biopic about one of the pre-eminent early songwriters of rock 'n' roll. » San Francisco Chronicle
Hava Nagila (The Movie) Premieres Opening Night at San Francisco Jewish Film Festival
June 19, 2012 – The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival today announced that the feature documentary Hava Nagila (The Movie) will kick off its 32nd festival on July 19, with its World Premiere at the Castro Theater. » Read More
Friends Co-Creator Marta Kauffman Joins Hava Filmmaking Team
January 27, 2011 – Emmy Award-winning producer Marta Kauffman is reteaming with her partners on the documentary Blessed Is the Match to bring the story of the iconic song Hava Nagila to the screen.
» Read More
Grossman Gives Inaugural Presentation at SDJFF Reel2Real Series
January 9, 2011 – The San Diego Jewish Film Festival inaugurated its Reel2Real lecture series with director Roberta Grossman and a work-in-progress presentation of Hava Nagila (The Movie). The Reel2Real series is designed to give audiences an opportunity to meet filmmakers and learn what inspires them as they turn their visions into reality. Grossman, whose film Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh, won the audience award at the 2009 San Diego Jewish Film Festival, shared previously unseen clips from Hava Nagila (The Movie) and discussed the intellectual and financial challenges inherent in bringing the documentary to completion. » Find additional work-in-progress screenings around the country.
Connie Francis Grants Rare Interview to Hava Nagila (The Movie)
In August 2010, Roberta Grossman had the opportunity to interview the incomparable Connie Francis. Ms. Francis generously granted an interview to talk about Hava before taking the stage for a sold-out concert in New Jersey. In the interview, Ms. Francis spoke about her life-long interest and love for Jewish culture, the making of her best-selling album Connie Francis Sings Jewish Favorites, and, of course, singing Hava Nagila. She explained that she has sung a medley of Hava Nagila and Exodus as the closing number for her concerts for two decades! » View a video excerpt of the interview.