A little bit of this, a little bit of that
By HANNAH BROWN
Music, horror, Judaism – time for the Jerusalem Jewish Film festival.
Great Jewish music, great Jewish horror, great Jewish minds and a focus on aliya
– that’s just a sample of what’s in store at the 14th Jerusalem Jewish Film
Festival this year, which runs from December 9-14 at the Jerusalem
The opening attraction this year is Sophie Lellouche’s
Paris Manhattan, a French comedy about a single pharmacist, Alice (Alice
Taglioni), who is obsessed with Woody Allen. Just as the specter of Humphrey
Bogart advised Woody in Play It Again, Sam, Alice has frequent dialogues with a
fantasy version of Woody Allen. When she meets a real man (Patrick Bruel, of Le
Prenom and Un Secret), she has to get Woody to approve.
This feature film
is indicative of how much fun is in store for festival goers this year. The
closing event is the documentary Awake Zion, Monica Haim’s look at the
connections among reggae, Rastafarianism and Judaism. The documentary features a
host of contemporary reggae performers, including Matisyahu. The screening will
feature an introduction by Reggae Master Gil Bronstein and a reggae concert by
My Lord Sound System. Haim will be on hand to present her film.
The Kosher Beats section of the festival will showcase films on
music. Roberta Grossman was here with her 2008 film Blessed Is the Match:
The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh, and she returns to Jerusalem to present her
latest documentary, Hava Nagila. It examines the history of the song and
includes interviews and performances by such artists as Harry Belafonte, Glen
Campbell, the Klezmatics, Connie Francis and Regina Spektor.
music lovers will want to see Yahli Gat’s The Wind and the Darkness, a film
about Naomi Shemer. William Hechter and Peter Miller’s A.K.A. Doc Pomus is a
tribute to the American blues singer and songwriter, and Miller will be here to
You may not have realized that this year marks the 25th
anniversary of the ever-popular Catskills-set romance Dirty Dancing, starring
Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze. There will be a screening of the film,
featuring live singing and dancing, and maybe even a drag queen or
Another special program focuses on Jewish horror films and includes
a screening of the restored version of the classic Yiddish film The Dybbuk
(1937) by Michal Waszynski.
There are a number of feature films from
around the world on Jewish themes. Barbara Albert will present her acclaimed
film The Dead and the Living (which features an appearance by Itay Turan), about
a young European woman who learns some unsettling truths about her grandfather.
Michael Pfeifenberger’s documentary Call Me a Jew deals with similar films, and
the director will also be present.
Brad Leong’s Dorfman stars Sara Rue and Elliott Gould as a daughter and father
whose lives change when they become part of a revitalized downtown Los
Henry Jaglom’s Just 45 Minutes from Broadway stars Judd Nelson
and tells the story of a family of actors and their reunion for a
There will be a special panel on aliya that immigrants won’t want
to miss. Called “Aliyah . . . A Recipe for Success,” it will feature kosher
cuisine maven Jamie Geller presenting her film Joy of Aliyah, as well as a
Nefesh B’Nefesh singles gathering.
As always, the documentaries are an
especially strong category. Magnus Gertten will attend the festival to
present Harbour of Hope, his documentary about the rescue of Jews from
concentration camps during World War II who were brought to Malmo, Sweden. The
acclaimed film includes interviews with survivors and new archival footage.
Other documentary filmmakers attending include Brigitta Ashoff, whose film Susan
Sontag – The Glamour of Seriousness will be shown as part of the Great Jewish
Minds section. Renata Schmidtkunz will present Landscapes of Memory – The Life
of Ruth Kluger in this section.
Avishai Mekonen’s 400 Miles to Freedom
will be shown as a tribute to the Ethiopian community. The director will present
the film, and there will a candle lighting for Hanukka with the chief Ethiopian
Renee Silverman will present Sosua: Make a Better World, about a
performance by Dominican and Jewish teens in Manhattan’s Washington Heights
neighborhood, in a show staged by Liz Swados, about the rescue of 800 Jews by
the Dominican Republic during World War II.
For more information, and to
watch clips and order tickets, go to the festival website at