Libros Schmibros is, according to David Kipen, its founder, “the Yiddish-Spanish joke that got out of hand.” By his telling, the Boyle Heights lending library has become more than just a place for community members to grab something to read.
“Very gratifyingly, and in a hurry, it became a place not just for people to come get books, which would have been enough — you know, Dayenu,” he said during a recent interview. “But it also became this kind of crossroads for friends of mine from the Westside and folks from the neighborhood to get together.”
The hole-in-the-wall bookshop recalls the Jewish history of Boyle Heights while catering to what is now a predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood; visitors are encouraged to take home books, even to keep them, free of charge.
Now the lending library is looking to move from the bookshelf to the silver screen. On Aug. 5, Libros Schmibros will host a 50th anniversary screening of “Tiempo de Morir” (“Time to Die”), a Spanish-language western written by Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez and directed by Mexican-Jewish director Arturo Ripstein, at the newly restored John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in the Cahuenga Pass.
The 1966 film centers on a man released from prison after 18 years who returns to his hometown to discover the crime that put him away has not been forgiven.
Kipen, quick with a Yiddish joke, called the film a “kreplach Western” because of the Jewish heritage of its makers. Alameda Films, the studio that produced “Tiempo de Morir,” was founded by Ripstein’s father, Alfredo, a Jew of Polish descent, and is now run by a third-generation Ripstein, Arturo’s son, Daniel.
If a Western staged by Italians is a spaghetti Western, Kipen explained, doesn’t that make one shot by Jews a kreplach Western?
The screening is a pilot project for his organization, Kipen said. Aside from a pop-up exhibition it hosted with the Hammer Museum in the Westwood in 2011, Libros Schmibros has done little in the way of live events outside of Boyle Heights. If all goes well, Kipen hopes to begin screening films for large audiences in the neighborhood.
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