'Esther Blueburger' Returns to Toronto

Published: June 23rd 2010
in Culture » Movies

Danielle Catanzarati stars as Esther
Pic: 120db Film Finance

Hey, Hey, It’s Esther Blueburger stars Danielle Catanzariti as a 13-year-old Jewish girl in Australia who’s about to have her Bat Mitzvah.


Esther doesn’t really fit in with the other girls at her posh school. She has bulky glasses, a pet duck and parents whom she doesn’t always get along with. The film follows Esther as she meets Sunni, who attends a local public school. Through this new friendship, Esther begins to blossom.


She pretends to be a Swedish exchange student in order to attend the public school and hang out with her new friend. After getting to know Sunni, Esther meets her friend’s mom (played by Toni Collette).


The movie -- released in Australia in 2008 -- was nominated for a number of awards including an Australia Film Institute Award and an FCCA Award. It won Catanzarati a Young Actor’s Award from the Australia Film Institute.


Hey, Hey, It’s Esther Blueburger has a long history in Toronto. The film was featured not once, but twice at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. “We really like this film, in fact so much so, we have showed it more than once. At our TJFF, and Chai Tea screenings, as well included it as part of FilmMatters headed up by Susan Starkman,” says TJFF executive director Helen Zukerman. “The opening song is really good and a great start into the film.”


Zukerman says there are some major differences between the Australian film and North American coming of age stories. “It does differ somewhat from American coming of age films like High School Musical by giving an accurate depiction of high school life,” she says. “Of course, there is also the universal Jewish coming of age element - despite being specific to an Australian context, the Bat Mitzvah that Esther's parents plan is no different than any other middle class North American Bat Mitzvah.”


Hey, Hey, It’s Esther Blueburger opens in Toronto on July 2.

Related articles: (Esther Blueburger, Bat Mitzvah, movie, Australia, Toni Collette)
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