Based on the sensitive children’s book by Barbara Cohen, Molly’s Pilgrim is the story of a young Russian Jewish girl who has emigrated to America with her parents to escape religious persecution. What she finds in America instead of accepting peers is a group of insensitive classmates who make fun of her ethnic mannerisms. Molly yearns for her old home when she finds her new one to be unfriendly.
Molly’s class is given an assignment to create a doll based on a Thanksgiving character, and Molly hopes that by successfully completing it she will prove her knowledge of Americans and gain her classmates’ acceptance. She has trouble finishing the doll, so her mother tells her she’ll finish it for her. Mama stays up all night, and when she’s finished, the doll resembles a Russian emigrant girl in traditional dress. To Mama, Russian Jewish emigrants are today’s Pilgrims, because they came to America for religious freedom, just like the original Pilgrims.
Molly finds Mama’s doll beautiful, but she is worried it will elicit further criticism from her classmates. When she brings the doll to class there are snickers at first, but Molly explains why the doll is dressed like a Russian. The class is moved and finally comes to appreciate Molly and her plight as an emigrant. The lesson to be learned is that “it takes all kinds of Pilgrims to make a Thanksgiving.”
1985 Academy Award: Best Live-Action Short
American Film Festival-Blue Ribbon, CINE Golden Eagle
24 minutes • Color