The ninth Jewish Eye Festival, which focuses on Jewish culture and identity, opens this year in Ashkelon on October 16 and runs through the 24th. The main theme this year will be those who have had the courage to save lives in the most dangerous and complicated situations. Fourteen films from seven countries, both documentaries and features, that tell stories of dangerous rescues of Jews will be shown.
As in previous years, there will be competition in three categories – feature films, documentaries and television movies – and there will be cash prizes for each.
The opening film is Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story, about the commander of the Entebbe raid who freed the hostages of the Air France plane at the cost of his own life. Although this story has been told and dramatized in the past, this new movie includes archival footage and interviews never shown before.
The Turkish Passport is a documentary that tells a lesser known story about diplomats posted to Turkish embassies and consulates in several countries during World War II who saved numerous Jews during the war.
The diplomats didn’t only save the lives of Turkish Jews but also rescued foreign Jews fleeing Europe by giving them Turkish passports.
Tinghir Jerusalem is another documentary about the Jewish Berbers who lived in the Atlas mountains and emigrated with the rest of the Moroccan Jewish community in the 1960s. Before the screening there will be a performance by singer Micha Bitton, who will talk about his his childhood between Jerusalem and Sderot, as well as singing some of his most well-known works.
Jews in Rome is a look at the history of the Jewish ghetto in the city, as well as what life is like for Jews in Rome today.
The Woman from Sarajevo is the story of the first Muslim woman to be honored for saving Jews. Her family hid a Jewish family during World War II. Then, with the war in Bosnia in the 1990s, the Jewish family she rescued came to her aid.
The mystery that still surrounds the fate of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg is examined in the film The Case of Raoul Wallenberg.
Wallenberg served at the Swedish Embassy in Budapest during WW II and gave visas to thousands of Jews threatened by the Nazis. But right at the end of the war, he was arrested by the Russians and has not been heard from since. The filmmakers gained unprecedented access to documents that suggest what may have been Wallenberg’s true fate.
The docudrama The Glass House examines the story of another Swiss diplomat in Budapest during the Holocaust. Swiss vice-consul Carl Lutz and his wife, Gertrud, saved 62,000 Hungarian Jews from deportation and death camps.
A feature film, Perlasca, an Italian Hero, is a dramatization of the life of Giorgio Perlasca, who, through a complex path, ended up working as a Spanish diplomat in Budapest in the 1940s, where he knew Wallenberg and also worked to save Jews.
Another program is a look at how the Orthodox community is portrayed in film. The Dreamers is a documentary about two ultra- Orthodox women who have decided to make movies about women in their community. It will be screened for women only.
The Moon Is Jewish is a documentary about a fanatical soccer fan whose life changes dramatically when he embraces Orthodox Judaism. And The Holy Gathering is a documentary about the spiritual longings of children growing up on secular kibbutzim.
For more information on the festival and to see film clips and order tickets, go to the festival website at www.jewisheye.org.il/index.php