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'The Yankles' featured at LDS, Jewish film festivals

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 26 2010 11:53 a.m. MST

OREM, Utah — Perhaps a key question about "The Yankles," which played at the LDS

Film Festival, is what was it doing there?This is a Jewish film made by

Jewish producers out of Los Angeles. But it was made in Utah and has an

abundance of Mormon actors playing Jewish roles, which apparently makes it

eligible. One of them, Michael Bennett, who plays the head rabbi called it

a "really good show."

"It's a wonderful — one of the best pieces I have ever been involved

in," he said. "It's a feel-good film, everyone who sees it will love it.

It deserves more than a mention."

Not only did it play in the LDS Film festival, it simultaneously played

in Atlanta and the second largest Jewish film festival in the world.

The Brooks brothers, Zev and David, produced the film and spoke to the

audience from Atlanta after the screening Saturday night via LDS Film

Festival founder Christian Vuissa's cell phone held to a microphone.

The producers picked Utah to make the film after they scouted the area,

saw the cooperation they would get from the Utah Film Commission, and

saw the large pool of actors and film crew that live in the state.

Making the film in Utah made economic sense.

"It was a natural fit," Zev Brooks said.

Additionally, several of the actors pointed out the similarities between

the Jewish religion and the LDS faith, including James Goldberg, whose

background is in both faiths. He plays Rabbi Nusebau.

The film's Hollywood roots also brought another element to the festival

— swearing. The audience was warned about it, almost as an afterthought,

before the movie began. It's as abundant as any mainstream gentile film.

In fact, the film's lead actor, Brian Wimmer, who plays the couch of the

Jewish baseball team, the Yankles, used so much profanity that Rabbi

Moshe Meyer, the assistant coach played by LDS actor Kenneth Brown, gave

him a list of kosher cuss words.

In the movie a former professional baseball player is studying to be a

rabbi and wants to start a baseball team at the rabbinical school. The

head rabbi encourages it, but Elliot, played by LDS actor Michael

Buster, realizes he needs a coach the pull the then-hapless team

together.

About that time pro baseball player Charlie Jones, Wimmer's character,

gets out of jail on parole after serving time for his third DUI. He is

now required to do community service, so Buster's character recruits him

to coach the team. It helps that he's in love with Elliot's sister,

Debra, played by Suzanne Sutchy, who in one scene tells Wimmer's

character her goal is to marry in her faith and have a Jewish family.

He's not Jewish, but the film concludes with him softening toward her

religion, showing how diverse people can love each other.

Longtime actor Don Most plays the family father and he, too, goes

through a change from rejecting his son's decision to become a rabbi

when he wanted him to be a professional baseball player.

Why see this film?

"Because you get to see a man change his life from a drunkard to a

really decent citizen," Bennett said. "It's a wonderful process that he

goes through."

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