ABOUT THE FILM
This sumptuous and absorbing historical drama recounts the story of the Jews in Portugal since 1496, when King D. Manuel prohibited Judaism. Officially the Jewish community disappears, although in many villages Crypto-Judaism is kept alive. It is not until the end of the Inquisition in the nineteenth century that the Jews slowly begin to return to Portugal. A small community of Ashkenazi Jews settles in Oporto, and these are joined by a Portuguese military officer converted to Judaism, who soon begins to travel, sometimes on horseback, seeking to bring back to official Judaism those who practise crypto-Judaism. This project, although heroic, does not have the desired outcome. But five centuries after D. Manuel’s edict led to the mass exodus of the Jewish community, a new law promoted their return to the land they had been forced to forsake. With a sweeping look, Sepharad is a timely film that will make you reflect on the true worth of faith, love, and selfless valor.
Main Cast: Rodrigo Santos, Ana Vargas, Pedro Galiza, Gabriela Relvas
Written by the Centre for Historic Research of the Jewish Community of Oporto.
Festivals & Awards
SPECIAL PRIZE for Contribution to Preservation of Sephardic Culture and History Moscow Jewish Film Festival, 2019
SPECIAL DISTINCTION for Preservation of Jewish Memory International Council of B’nai B’rith, 2019
Sefarad Streaming Worldwide
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The epic drama, based on true events, tells the untold story of Portugal’s Jewish community from their expulsion in 1496 to the present day. Sefarad (2018), directed by film-maker Luís Ismael, closes with some optimism, as Portugal becomes a Jewish hub once again in post-war Europe.
The Director did a brilliant job in conveying the raw emotions that coursed through Portugal not only in the times of the Crypto Jews but during the Nazi regime and through modern times.
Washington Jewish Film Festival
A sweeping epic that covers Jewish history in Portugal from the times of the Crypto Jews in 1496—when King Manuel I prohibited the open practice of Judaism—through to the Nazi regime to modern times, Sefarad centers on the life of army captain Arturo de Barros Basto, founder of the Oporto Jewish Community.