(photo credit: )
If it's Hanukka, then it's time for the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival. The 11th festival will run this year at the Jerusalem Cinematheque from December 12-18. Featuring over 50 films, it will present a mixture of the best recent films on Jewish themes from all over the world, with features, documentaries and shorts.
In addition, there will be classics of Yiddish cinema, including the opening night attraction, East and West, a silent film featuring the legendary Molly Picon. The film, which will be screened with English and Yiddish intertitles (and Hebrew subtitles), illustrates the complex mix of classic and contemporary film that characterizes this festival. The 1923 film, directed by Sidney M. Goldin and Ivan Abramson, tells the story of New York gambler who returns to Galicia with his Americanized daughter (Picon). But the screening will be given a 21st century flourish by live musical accompaniment by Lemez Lovas (Oi Va Voi), electronic artist Moshik Kop and multi-instrumentalist Rohan Kriwaczek.
Another highlight of the festival will be A Room and a Half, directed by Andrey Khrzhanovsky, as part of an annual evening in memory or George (Rehor) Ostrovsky, one of the cinematheque's founders. The film is a biography of the Nobel-Prize winning poet, Joseph Brodsky, and will be shown in the presence of the director. It will be preceded by Nikita Kino, a short film about a family pilgrimage to Seventies Soviet Russia, directed by Vivian Ostrovsky, George Ostrovsky's daughter.
Other festival guests include actress Millie Perkins, who starred in the 1959 film adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank. Perkins will attend a screening of the film and participate in a panel discussion on film and history.
Pierre Sauvage, the director of the film Not Idly By - Peter Bergson, America, and the Holocaust, is another festival guest. The film profiles Bergson, who fought steadfastly in America to try to stop the Holocaust as it was happening and courted controversy in the Jewish community. Bergson's widow and daughter will also be present. Excerpts from Sauvage's latest film, And Crown Thy Good - Varian Fry in Marseille, will be shown on this program. Richard Trank's documentary, Against the Tide, also examines the reaction of the American Jewish community to the Holocaust.
Nobel Prize-winning Eric Kandel is the focus of Petra Seeger's In Search of Memory - The Neuroscientist Eric Kandel, and the director will be at the screening. A discussion of memory in the Bible will follow the film, as part of a series of study programs called Cinema Midrash led by representatives of the Elul Study Center.
The Ma'aleh School of Film, Television and the Arts in Jerusalem, which caters to religious students, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The milestone will be celebrated in a musical evening featuring a performance by Yonatan Razel, a composer and performer. Two of Ma'aleh's latest student films will be screened. In a separate event, an episode of the popular television series, Srugim (Crocheted Skullcaps), about young religious singles in Jerusalem, will be screened in the presence of one of its creators, Eliezer Shapiro, a Ma'aleh graduate. He will also take part in a discussion on the theme, The New Jew According to Srugim.
Several new feature films will also have their Israeli premieres at the festival. In Broken Promises, a budding Jewish soccer player in pre-World War II Czechoslovakia finds his life turned upside down when the Nazis invade. The screening will be held in memory of the late MK Yuri Shtern. In the film Simon Konianski, a left-wing divorced man comes back home to live with his Holocaust survivor father. Protektor tells the story of a Prague radio-show host in love with a Jewish actress on the eve of World War II.
The Story of Jaffa Street, a program of archival footage on the history of that thoroughfare, will be presented by producer Micha Shagrir and architect David Kroyanker.
The Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival's 10-year partnership with the Religion Today Film Festival in Trento, Italy will be commemorated in a special program.
The festival's Achievement Awards will go to Micha Yinon, former chairman of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, who helped establish the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival, and Yachin Hirsch, a cinematographer, photographer and director. A program of Hirsch's short films will be shown.
More information is available on the festival Website at www.jer-cin.org.il