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Joan Micklin Silver
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    (May 24, 1935-December 31, 2020)
    Born in Omaha, Nebraska
    Birth name was Joan Micklin
    Directed the films ‘Hester Street’ (1975), ‘Between the Lines’ (1977), ‘Head Over Heels’ (1979; re-released as ‘Chilly Scenes of Winter,’ 1982), ‘Crossing Delancey’ (1988), ‘Loverboy’ (1989), and ‘A Fish in the Bathtub’ (1999)
    Directed the off-Broadway musical revue ‘A… My Name Is Alice’ (1983)
    She got started writing and directing educational short films for Encyclopedia Britannica and the Learning Corporation of America.
    She said about her difficulties in breaking through to direct feature films, ‘I got so depressed. I thought it was hopeless.’
    ’Hester Street’ was shot in black and white and had most of the dialogue delivered in Yiddish with subtitles, yet she seemed surprised that studios were reluctant to release the film.
    United Artists forced her to add a happy ending to ‘Chilly Scenes of Winter.’ (It was removed when United Artists Classics re-released the film.)
    She ended her career directing TV movies for Lifetime.
    She was married to Raphael Silver for 56 years until his death in a skiing accident.
    A producer told her ‘Feature films are very expensive to mount and distribute, and women directors are one more problem we don’t need.’ (She noted later, ‘I can’t imagine anything that blatant now.’)
    After they were unable to find a studio that would release ‘Hester Street,’ she and her husband – with some assistance from John Cassavetes – formed Midwest Films to distribute it themselves.
    ’Hester Street’ grossed a respectable $5 million (against a production budget of $320,000) and garnered an Oscar nomination for Carol Kane as Best Actress.
    ’Hester Street’ was selected by the Library of Congress for the National Film Registry of ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant ‘ films (2011).
    Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne included ‘Chilly Scenes of Winter’ in a festival of films that were ‘woefully overlooked and under-appreciated.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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