An intimate portrait of director Norman Jewison and the making of “Fiddler on the Roof.”
A richly detailed examination of the nuts and bolts of moviemaking, this 50th anniversary celebration of Norman Jewison’s “Fiddler on the Roof,” narrated by Jeff Goldblum, shows us how the beloved musical made its triumphant, hazardous journey to the screen.
Daniel Raim: Director/Writer/Producer
Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Daniel Raim attended the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. Raim is known for his documentaries about overlooked cinema artists, including The Man on Lincoln’s Nose, nominated for the 2001 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject. Raim’s 2015 doc Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story premiered as an Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for The Golden Eye (L’Œil d’or, le prix du documentaire – Cannes). In addition to his theatrical films, Daniel has written, produced, and directed 28 original documentaries for the Criterion Collection about cinema masters, including Yasujiro Ozu, Aki Kaurismaki, Buster Keaton, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Alfred Hitchcock. In 2019, Raim directed and produced the TCM Original Documentary Image Makers: The Adventures of America’s Pioneer Cinematographers. In 2022, Raim’s new documentary feature, Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen (about director Norman Jewison and the making of Fiddler on the Roof), will be released theatrically by Zeitgeist Films in association with Kino Lorber.
My documentaries preserve film history and depict the art, craft, and soul of the movies through intimate portraits of cinema artists. In 1999, during my final year as a student at the American Film Institute, I met director Norman Jewison when I started making a documentary about my professor, production designer Robert F. Boyle, who collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock on several classics, including “North by Northwest” and with Jewison on major movies like “The Thomas Crown Affair” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” I interviewed Boyle and Jewison about their epic collaboration on “Fiddler” for my Oscar-nominated documentary on Boyle, “The Man on Lincoln’s Nose” (2000).
The film version of “Fiddler on the Roof” was introduced to me when I was a child, by my grandparents who survived the Holocaust. Jewison’s film, including Robert Boyle’s visually stunning and scrupulously researched production design, was a window into the world my grandparents came from, which no longer exists.
I continued exploring “Fiddler” by shooting in-depth interviews with the movie’s cast and crew, including the film’s star, Topol (shot in 2009), director Norman Jewison (shot in 2016), lyricist Sheldon Harnick (shot in 2017), composer John Williams, film critic Kenneth Turan, and the three actresses who play Tevye’s eldest daughters (all shot in 2021). Making FIDDLER’S JOURNEY TO THE BIG SCREEN has been a true labor of love, years in the making. I wanted to make a documentary that explores Jewison’s artistry, compassion, and humanity as well as his spiritual and creative quest directing “Fiddler on the Roof.”
The fall of 2021 marked the 50th anniversary of “Fiddler on the Roof,” the film Pauline Kael (The New Yorker) called “the most powerful movie musical ever made.” Narrated by Jeff Goldblum, FIDDLER’S JOURNEY TO THE BIG SCREEN captures the humor and drama of director Norman Jewison’s quest to recreate the lost world of Jewish life in Tsarist Russia and re-envision the beloved stage hit as a wide-screen epic.
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Daniel Raim puts us in the director’s chair and in Jewison’s heart and mind, drawing on behind-the-scenes footage and never-before-seen stills as well as original interviews with Jewison, Topol (Tevye), composer John Williams, production designer Robert F. Boyle, film critic Kenneth Turan, lyricist Sheldon Harnick, and actresses Rosalind Harris, Michele Marsh, and Neva Small (Tevye’s daughters).
The film explores how the experience of making “Fiddler” deepens Jewison as an artist and revives his soul.