Blaze: country singer and his Jewish wife
Photo: Courtesy Sundance Selects
Ben Dickey as Blaze Foley and Alia Shakwat as his wife Sybil in Blaze

By Susan Kandell Wilkofsky

Blaze is a bittersweet tale based on the memoir Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley by Sybil Rosen. Directed by Ethan Hawke, Blaze is a biopic of the musician who was little known in his lifetime, but left a large imprint on the Texas outlaw country music scene.
The film is skillfully woven together by Hawke, taking us on a journey from the time Blaze (Ben Dickey) meets Sybil, the love of his life, through sometime after his death. And in between, you’ll hear the music he composed along with the sounds of music legend Townes Van Zandt.
So, you may ask, why is this mentioned in the Texas Jewish Post? Good question. Blaze Foley’s wife was Sybil Rosen (Alia Shawkat), a nice Jewish girl from Virginia. They meet, fall in love and eventually marry. There is a truly memorable scene when the two lovebirds meet her parents. The moment is punctuated by Blaze’s hilarious rendition of If I Were a Rich Man. It’s also interesting to note that Sybil’s mother is played by the real Sybil.
Sybil Rosen went on with her life after Blaze and wrote several books, including Speed of Light about an 11-year-old girl Audrey and her Aunt Pesel, who was a Holocaust survivor.
If you love country music and a well-told story, Blaze is the film for you. Try and catch one of the screenings with filmmaker Ethan Hawke and star Ben Dickey. They are charming and informative and you’ll be able to ask questions that they’ll cheerfully answer. Then you might find yourself “googling” Blaze Foley to listen to some music you never knew existed and now can’t live without.

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