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March 11, 2019 11:25 am

Barbara Streisand Discusses How Producing, Directing, and Starring in ‘Yentl’ Brought Her Closer to Her Religious Father’s Memory

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Barbara Streisand during an interview in 2018. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

Barbara Streisand discussed her career, Judaism, and how her father’s death shaped who she is today at a Q&A session and screening of her 1983 film “Yentl” in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Streisand directed, produced, wrote, and starred in “Yentl,” which tells the story of a young Jewish woman in early 20th century Poland who disguises herself as a man so that she can enroll in a religious school and study the Talmud after her father dies.

The 76-year-old Streisand, who is Jewish, was an infant when her father, Emanuel Streisand, suffered a seizure and passed away at the age of 34. She previously described her father as “a religious man” and said on Tuesday night that the relationship between a father and daughter is what inspired her to write “Yentl.” She explained, “I think my father’s death had a lot to do with who I am today. It just meant a lot to me to be able to make a story where I could create a father, a father I never had because he died when I was 15 months old. I was so intrigued by that relationship and also the great tradition in Judaism is knowledge, learning and my father was a teacher.”

Streisand admitted that she was not her own first choice to direct “Yentl,” but after pitching the film to director Milos Forman he was so impressed with her vision that he encouraged her to direct it herself, The Hollywood Reporter noted.

She also revealed that she refused to put her name on drafts of the script she wrote because of the criticism she received from starring in the 1976 remake of “A Star is Born.” She said, “I was so afraid of being attacked or people not personally liking me that I just didn’t even put my name on it.”

The process of filming “Yentl” will take up three chapters in Streisand’s upcoming memoir that she is currently writing, she added.

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