ABOUT APPLE WEST
Apple West Productions specializes in documentary and media production. The senior producer is Brian Cohen. His first film, "At Home on the Range: Jewish Life in Texas," explores the world of small-town Jewish life. It focuses on communities that grew out of the oil fields of East Texas, the cattle ranches of West Texas, and the citrus groves of South Texas. When it was completed in 1996, Cohen embarked on a journey to document southern Jewry state-by-state.
The second installment, "Pushcarts & Plantations: Jewish Life in Louisiana," was completed in 1998. Louisiana was a natural second choice because it contains Jewish communities most people know little about. Jews thrive not only in the larger cities of New Orleans and Baton Rouge, but also in the smaller communities that dot the state.
Louisiana is unique because of its diverse population. It is essentially three different states. North Louisiana is defined by Protestant influences and is a part of the southern Bible Belt. South Louisiana is defined by Catholicism and Cajun and Creole influences imported from Spain, France, and Nova Scotia. New Orleans defies definition and is unlike any other city.
Both programs allow the individual communities to speak for themselves. The voices in the films are those of southerners describing the traditions, customs, and experiences that make their communities unique. They also explain what it means to be Jewish in the South and explore how southern traditions have shaped their food, music, and religious expression.
AWP is currently in production with "Red Lights Out: The Rise and Fall of the American Vice District." This one-hour documentary explores the history of regulated prostitution in America and is scheduled to be completed in spring 2009.
About the Producer
Brian Cohen grew up in the small town of Abilene, TX and has always viewed his Jewishness through the prism of small-town life. "There are struggles and dynamics quite unique to this experience," he explains, "especially if you’re Jewish." The desire to explore these dynamics lead to his series on the Jewish south.
An award-winning producer, Cohen has received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and from numerous state and local organizations. His work has been broadcast on public television and featured in exhibits at the Library of Congress (Washington DC), the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience (Jackson, MS), and the Skirball Center (Los Angeles, CA).
Cohen is also a board member of the National Association for Media Literacy Education (formerly AMLA) and teaches documentary production and media literacy at Washington University in St. Louis.