The 21st Miami Jewish Film Festival (MJFF) will bring the best of international cinema to Miami from January 11-25.It will feature 62 films from 20 countries and will host 50 filmmakers and special guests. This year’s slate will include world premieres, North American premieres, US premieres and Florida premieres.MJFF is the largest Jewish cultural event in Florida and one of the three largest Jewish film festivals in the world. It has always had a particularly strong connection to the Israeli film industry.This year, the festival will celebrate Israel’s 70th birthday with a specially curated “Israel at 70” program headlined by the premiere of Ben-Gurion, Epilogue, winner of the Ophir Award for Best Documentary. This remarkable film is an invaluable historical document compiled from newly discovered conversations with Israel’s founding father. Alon Ben-Gurion, David Ben-Gurion’s grandson, will attend the screening and will participate in a conversation with the audience afterwards.The Israel at 70 program will also feature premieres of films by Israel’s most acclaimed and internationally celebrated directors, including Samuel Maoz’s controversial Foxtrot, winner of eight Israeli Ophir Awards, the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival, and shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film; Eran Riklis’ highly anticipated thriller Shelter, loosely based on a story by Shulamit Hareven about an Israeli agent (Neta Riskin of Shtisel) looking after a Lebanese agent (Golshifteh Farahani, who starred opposite Adam Driver in Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson) in a safe house in Germany; Dan Wolman’s romantic period drama, An Israeli Love Story; Savi Gabizon’s Longing, winner of the Audience Award at the Venice Film Festival; Nir Bergman’s off-beat, touching drama Saving Neta, about a man whose life intersects with several women’s; Ofir Raul Graizer’s The Cakemaker, a story of love, betrayal and baking in Berlin and Jerusalem; the acclaimed historical drama The Testament by Amichai Greenberg; the popular comedy Maktub, by Oded Raz, one of Israel’s biggest box-office hits of the year; Matan Yair’s Scaffolding, winner of the Best Israeli Film Award at the Jerusalem Film Festival, which tells the story of a troubled working-class teen and his literature teacher; Eitan Anner’s A Quiet Heart, the story of a concert pianist (Ania Bukstein) who moves to Jerusalem hoping for peace and quiet and gets caught up in a conflict between the religious and secular residents of her new neighborhood; and many others.Bettina Ehrhardt’s Good Deeds: The Conductor Zubin Mehta, a celebration of the legendary Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra conductor’s life and work will have its North American premiere.A highlight of the evening will be a live performance by the Alhambra Quartet and an introduction by world-renowned conductor Daniel Andai. The festival is launching its inaugural City to City program by featuring the work of filmmakers from Yeroham, Miami’s partnership community.The opening-night film at the festival will be Itzhak, Alison Chernick’s documentary about legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman. The premiere will be preceded by a live performance of Itzhak Perlman’s most memorable music by the Amernet String Quartet, ensemble-in-residence at Florida International University.
The closing night film will be Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me, the first major documentary about the legendary entertainer, which was an unexpected audience favorite at this year’s Haifa International film festival.Directed by Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Sam Pollard, the film focuses on Davis’ personal life and career as he navigated the shifting tides of civil rights and racial politics, and includes footage of his visit to Jerusalem’s Old City, where he prayed.“This year’s Miami Jewish Film Festival program is monumental in the breadth of talent breaking through in each of the beautifully rich, distinct and emotional stories that transcend geographical boundaries,” said Igor Shteyrenberg, executive director of the Miami Jewish Film Festival.“In the last four years, the Miami Jewish Film Festival has grown from a small local event to one of the top Jewish film festivals in the world. It has become a world-class destination event known for showcasing the best in cinema and for its commitment to educate, build community and stimulate discussion and thought,” said Miami Jewish Film Festival chairman Gary Yarus.For more information and to order tickets, go to the festival website at miamijewishfilmfestival.org.