The Final Hour

2019, UK/Turkey, Documentary,  77 min, In Turkish, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, Ladino, Hebrew with English subtitles

Director: Caglar Malli

Screening: Thur 8/13 at 7 pm to  Sun 8/16 at 7pm

Zoom Conversation with the filmmakers: Sun 8/16 – Noon 

The documentary follows Deniz Bensusan, a young Sephardic woman who has come to the realization that her ancestral language Judeo-Espanol, popularly known as Ladino, is on the verge of extinction. With the loss of this language, the community also stands to lose their identity. Alarmed by this, she embarks on a journey of discovery in an attempt to unearth her culture, language, and roots. As she uncovers living family members in distant lands and traces 63 family members to their ends at Auschwitz during the Holocaust, her interest in Sephardic history grows stronger. Her journey is at times emotional and at times full of humor as she meets small surviving communities of Sephardic Jews and discovers her past. 

The Final Hour depicts the centuries-long journey of Sephardic culture and the Ladino language, asking all the while:

Will it survive another generation?

Is the language Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) already dead or just dying? When a language dies, does the culture which used it perish as well?

Why didn’t her Turkish grandparents teach or speak with her and her parents in Ladino? These are the questions that propel a young Jewish woman on a voyage of discovery in an attempt to unearth her culture, language, and roots. Her journey takes her on an emotional roller coaster as she meets the small surviving communities of Sephardic Jews in Salonika and Kastoria in Greece and discovers her ancient past in Portugal and Spain. Along the way, she finds long-lost cousins, views the actual Spanish Edict of Expulsion, and encounters many other surprises.


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