Experiencing Interruptions?

You Will Not Play Wagner

Performing Wagner has been unofficially banned in Israel since the creation of the state because he was a cultural touchstone of Nazism. But could Wagner’s music transcend the anti-Semitic views of its creator?

When Ya’akov, an Israeli conductor, announces he will play Wagner in the finals of the Esther Greenbaum International Conductors’ Competition, Esther, a Holocaust survivor, must face a moral dilemma: whether the trauma of the past justifies stifling the future of young talent.

Buried memories, nightmarish dreams uncovered -- Ya'akov and Esther, aided by Morris, the competition organizer, viscerally argue their opposing points of view from Tel-Aviv, the Berkshires, and Brooklyn. Across the COVID-plagued world and across historical, ethical, and personal domains, will they be able to hear each other?

Starring Annette Miller, Ofek Cohen, and Avi Hoffman.

  • Lilia Levitina
  • Victor Gordon
  • Laura Mandel
  • Annette Miller
    Key Cast
    Golda's Balcony
  • Project Type:
    Feature, Web / New Media
  • Genres:
    drama, Holocaust
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 5 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    November 14, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    21,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    Israel, United States
  • Language:
    English, Hebrew
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Sneak preview with the Jewish Arts Collaborative
    November 14, 2021
  • Teaser for America-Israel Friendship League
    United States
    November 21, 2021
Distribution Information
  • Jewish Arts Collaborative
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Lilia Levitina

Lilia Levitina, a director, actress, producer, and writer immigrated to the Boston area from the former Soviet Union in 1988. She brought with her a rich Russian theatrical tradition and a dream to do theater professionally. While working as a teacher by day, she founded a theater company -- Basement on the Hill Stage -- by night. What started in the basement of her house burst onto the Boston theater scene with acclaimed productions such as The Shawl and A Life in the Theater by David Mamet, The Promise by Aleksei Arbuzov, The Language of Kisses by Edmund de Santis, The Fox by Allan Miller, and others. Marking her 30 years in the US, Lilia conceived, produced, and performed a one-woman show From the Gray Notebook. Through memoir, poetry, and striking imagery, The Gray Notebook chronicles the journey of her generation of Jewish Russian immigrants across continents, languages, and cultures.

You Will Not Play Wagner is Lilia's first movie.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

You Will Not Play Wagner is dedicated to the memory of Victor Gordon, a South African Jewish playwright, who passed away of COVID in the middle of the play's adaptation for screen. As the cast and I faced the responsibility of honoring Victor's legacy, we pored over the characters’ psychology and uncovered layers of meaning in Victor's text. Beyond the central plot question of "to play or not to play Wagner in Israel," there are Jewish and universal questions of tikkun olam, the healing of the world. How does a person position themself and their people within the narratives of individual and collective trauma? Is tikkun olam possible without personal healing? In today's polarized world, can a conversation between people on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum bring hope?

And of course and always -- what role does art have to play?