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The Automat with filmmaker Lisa Hurwitz


After the screening, filmmaker Lisa Hurwitz will join us for a Q&A, moderated by Boston Jewish Film Artistic Director Lisa Gossels.

Featuring interviews with enthusiasts like Mel Brooks and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, The Automat recounts the lost history of the iconic restaurant chain Horn & Hardart, which served affordable-priced food to millions of New Yorkers and Philadelphians and revolutionized the nation’s restaurant scene with comfortable interiors, quality food, and state-of-the-art technology for the early 20th century. The chain welcomed American diners who had long been ignored, including those who were immigrants, working-class, Black, and women—all of whom were often not welcome in restaurants. The Automat illustrates how the company both served the public with great food, and at the same time treated its employees with fairness and integrity.

A double-take roster of celebrity testimony is led by comedian and multihyphenate Brooks, who over the course of the film becomes its veritable mascot and balladeer. But the real star of the show is the Automat itself, brought back to life in grand fashion — in a mere 78 minutes — through photographs, film clips and commentary.

About Lisa Hurwitz

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Lisa Hurwitz grew up in the storied Laurel Canyon neighborhood. She received a liberal arts degree from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and went on to work at arts organizations in Washington including The Olympia Film Society, where she directed The Olympia Film Festival, having started her affiliation there by volunteering as a 35 mm projectionist. Lisa helped oversee The Arts + Ideas Stage at The Stroum Jewish Community Center of Greater Seattle and The Seattle Jewish Film Festival. She later moved to New York City where she worked as a publicist at an Italian public relations firm. Her first feature film, The Automat, premiered at The 2021 Telluride Film Festival. Her next project, a narrative romantic comedy film set in Italy, is currently in development. She resides in Manhattan's Upper West Side.


1hr 19mins

Featuring an original new song written and performed by Mel Brooks!