Shop on Main Street, The (1965): Oscar-Winner Celebrates 50th Anniversary

The Shop on Main Street was the first film from Eastern Europe ever to win an Academy Award.  Fifty years ago this powerful Czech drama won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film.

Directed by Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos, it was one of the key films in the Czech New Wave that flourished in the 1960s, before the Soviet invasion of 1968 destroyed this vital film movement, forcingmany of its leaders into exile.

Josef Kroner and Yiddish theater legend Ida Kaminska (nominated for an Oscar for her performance) star in this poignant tale of an Aryan functionary who takes over the button shop of an elderly Jewish woman in a Slovakian town in 1942. They develop a tentative friendship that is threatened when the Nazis begin rounding up all the Jews in the area.

The noted British critic Kenneth Tynan wrote at the time that this was “the most moving film about anti-Semitism ever made.”  A political morality tale, the film forces viewers to take a stance, asking them, ‘If it had been you, what would you have done?