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Everything Is Illuminated is a 2005 adventure / comedy / drama, written and directed by Liev Schreiber and starring Elijah Wood and Eugene Hütz. It was adapted from the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, and was the debut film of  Liev Schreiber both as a director and as a screenwriter.

Jonathan Foer, a young American Jewish man, goes on a quest to find the woman who saved his grandfather during the Holocaust in a small Ukrainian town called Trachimbrod that was wiped off the map when the Nazis liquidated Eastern European shtetls. His guides are a cranky, anti-semitic grandfather, his deranged Border collie, Sammy Davis Jr. Jr., and his over-enthusiastic grandson, whose fractured command of  English, passion for American pop culture, and constant chatter threaten to make the worst of every situation. But what starts out as the tour from hell turns into a meaningful journey, with an unexpected series of revelations that will change all of their lives.

Everything Is Illuminated’s score features eight original tracks composed by Paul Cantelon, along with songs by Russian ska punk band Leningrad, Arcady Severny, Csókolom, Tin Hat Trio and Gogol Bordello, whose lead singer plays Alex. The band members of Gogol Bordello play the band in the train station where the character Alex has come to meet his US client, Jonathan Foer. DeVotchKa’s single “How It Ends” is featured in the trailer, but not in the official soundtrack (source).

A young Jewish American flies to the Ukraine in search of his grandfather’s past. He has a photograph and the name of a village. He hires the Odessa Heritage Tours, made up of a gruff old man and his English-speaking grandson. The three, plus grandfather’s deranged dog, travel in an old car from Odessa into Ukraine’s heart.  Jonathan, the American, is a collector, putting things he finds into small plastic bags, so he will remember. Alex, the interpreter, is an archetypal wild and crazy guy. Alex asks the old man, “Was there anti-Semitism in the Ukraine before the war?” Will they find the village?  The past illuminates everything. (IMDb)

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