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In A Dream - Movie Review - 2008

Isaiah Zagar - The Artist Who Changed Philadelphia

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


In A Dream - Movie Review - 2008

Isaiah Zagar and his work

Herzliya Films
Filmmaker Jeremiah Zagar spent the past several years following his father, mosaic-maker Isaiah Zagar, around with a camera, documenting the artist's creative process. Isaiah, an enormously talented and deeply troubled soul, has during his unusual career covered buildings and public spaces in a rundown Philadelphia neighborhood with distinctive murals that have transformed the district into a uniquely glittering tourist attraction.

Isaiah and Jeremiah

For the past 30 years, mosaic-maker Isaiah Zagar has covered dozens of buildings and public spaces--totaling about 40,000 feet of surface--with magnificent murals made up of bits of tile, broken glass and various other decorative ornaments held in place by hand-mixed cement embued with electric colored pigments. The huge murals are largely abstract and decorative, featuring elaborate geometric designs, as well as symbolic references to Jewish spirituality and fragmented portraits of Isaiah's wife, Julia. The unique art work has transformed a poor and rundown Philadelphia neighborhood into a tourist attraction.

The art, which is in some ways reminescent of Antonio Gaudi's work in Barcelona, is stunning. It's fascinating to watch Isaiah at work, mixing electric blue and pink pigment into cement and constructing his murals. But the real strength of this film is the personal journey that Jeremiah, the filmmaker, goes on as he unflinchingly examines his father's behavior. Jeremiah appears on camera only very briefly, but we feel his presence, his need to chronicle and expose his family's emotional and highly dramatic dynamics--to himself and to us. We never doubt that his search is an honest one, that he's seeking some sort of understandin of his own place in the family's story, or perhaps a sense of reconciliation with his self-involved father.

The images and emotions of In A Dream will stick with you.

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Film Details:

  • Release Date: 2008 in limited release
  • Running Time: 78 mins.
  • Parental Advisory: Content advisory for parents
  • Location: Philadelphia, PA, Brooklyn, NY and other places
  • Language: English
  • Company: Herzliya Films
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