Josh Waletzky Biography

Joshua Waletzky is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and also an influential proponent of Yiddish music.

Waletzky was born and raised in New York City and graduated from Harvard College and NYU Film School.  He has worked as a director, writer and editor on numerous documentary films about cultural and social themes, beginning as a sound editor on “Ibeorgun” (1975, the Kuna Indians) and the Academy Award®-winning film “Harlan County, U.S.A.” (1976, striking coal miners).  In addition to PARTISANS OF VILNA, he has directed and edited such films as “Image Before My Eyes” (1981, Jewish life in pre-Holocaust Poland), the Academy Award®-nominated “Music for the Movies: Bernard Herrmann” (1992, Hollywood’s greatest film composer), “Dashiell Hammett: Detective. Writer.” (1999, the inimitable writer-icon), and “Sacred Stage: The Mariinsky Theater” (2005, the Kirov Ballet and Opera survive into the 21st century).  His editing credits include the Emmy Award-winning I”tzhak Perlman: In the Fiddler’s House” (1995, world’s premiere violinist embraces klezmer music), the Peabody Award-winning “Revolution!” (1997, birth of the United States), A.C.E. Eddie Award-nominated “The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition” (2000, the Anglo-Irish explorer), Emmy Award-winning “She Says: Women In News” (2001, gender and journalism) and “The Venetian Dilemma” (2004, wonder-city as museum or viable habitat?).

Waletzky has also been a lifelong force in the field of Yiddish music, as teacher, performer and composer.  He was a founding member of Kapelye, an early, leading band of the klezmer revival.  He co-produced the Grammy-nominated album of Jewish songs of resistance, “Partisans of Vilna” (1989). His groundbreaking CD of original Yiddish songs, “Crossing the Shadows” (2001), was hailed as “a classic of the American-Jewish folk revival.”