Great Jewish Minds series at Jewish Film Fest

They say great minds think alike, but great Jewish minds have unique ways of understanding the world.

December 9, 2012 21:46
2 minute read.
A scene from 'Hannah Arendt’

Hannah Arendt: The Movie 370. (photo credit: Courtesy PR)


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They say great minds think alike, but great Jewish minds have unique ways of understanding the world. That’s certainly the impression the films in the Great Jewish Minds section of the 14th Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival give. The festival runs from December 10-14 at the Jerusalem Cinematheque and features the best of Jewish-themed contemporary films from around the world.

Documentaries are always a strong category, but this year they are particularly so.

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The Great Jewish Minds series, which consists of five films about artists and intellectuals who have shaped modern life, gives fascinating glimpses into their lives. Several of the directors will be on hand to discuss their films with audiences.

Brigitta Ashoff, who will attend the festival to present her film, Susan Sontag – The Glamour of Seriousness, was granted rare access to her subject after Sontag was diagnosed with cancer for the third time. Sontag was unusual in that she was an intellectual and writer who gained a wide following, and Ashoff recorded their conversations as Sontag reminisced about her life and work. The film also features interviews with many of Sontag’s friends and colleagues.

Director Renata Schmidtkunz will also attend the festival to present her documentary, Landscapes of Memory – The Life of Ruth Kluger. Kluger is a writer and literary scholar at the University of California, Irvine, and she survived the death marches from Vienna when the Nazis invaded. The film explores how her life has informed her work.

Theodor Herzl continues to fascinate historians, and Richard Trank’s film, It Is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl, (produced by Rabbi Marvin Hier), details how the Dreyfus trial inspired Herzl to come up with the idea of creating a modern Jewish state. Narrated by Academy Award winners Ben Kingsley and Christoph Waltz, the film shows the price Herzl paid for following his dream, a vision which seemed initially seemed so implausible.

Margarethe von Trotta, an acclaimed filmmaker known for such movies as The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum and Rosenstrasse, has made a feature film about Hannah Arendt’s life, entitled simply, Hannah Arendt. Barbara Sukowa plays Arendt around the time that her article on Eichmann, in which she coined the phrase, “the banality of evil,” was published in The New Yorker. The article stirred up a great deal of controversy, and the film focuses on how that controversy affected her life and changed her outlook.

Sam Ball has made the documentary, Joann Sfar Draws from Memory about Sfar, who has published over 150 graphic novels.

These include the 2011 book The Rabbi’s Cat, which was based on the story of his grandmother’s life in Algeria in the Twenties. The novel was made into an animated film. Ball accompanies Sfar on a regular work day in which the author/artist is constantly sketching everyone he meets, including taxi drivers, waiters and passersby, and speaks about his creative process.

Tickets to these films are selling quickly, so buy tickets in advance.

For tickets and more info visit :

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