Coming soon to a theater near you

The Jewish Film Festival that began in Croatia is making the rounds in Europe, exposing small Jewish communities to films they may not otherwise see.

film good 88 (photo credit: )
film good 88
(photo credit: )
The Jewish Film Festival in Croatia has become a festival on wheels, venturing to cities in Serbia and Bosnia to form bonds with the smaller Jewish communities, director of the festival Natasha Popovic told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. The film festival in Zagreb, which took place from June 11 to 15, screened more than 20 films for 2,500 attendees, said Dina Sosberger, the festival's project coordinator. It then traveled for the first time to Belgrade for a one-day event on June 18, and will next jet to Sarajevo this Friday. "We want to have cooperation in the region and the Jewish communities here are very good friends, so we decided to go to Belgrade and Sarajevo to gather young people and give them a chance to watch Jewish films," Popovic said. The Jewish Film Festival in Croatia took place for the first time in 2007 under license and cooperation with the UK Jewish Film Festival. However, this year's event was lengthened by two days, creating time for additional programs and nine more feature films. The movies selected for viewing are either about Jewish topics or were produced in Israel, Popovic explained. The winner of this year's Zagreb festival was the Israeli film The Bubble, by Eytan Fox, about three young Israelis living in an apartment together in Tel Aviv. Festival goers were also enthralled by The Counterfeiters, which won the 2008 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, Sosberger said. The screening of the film drew both the main actor, August Diehl, and the inspiration of the movie, Holocaust survivor Adolf Burger, she added. Performances by the Israeli band Coolooloosh and local band Jewsers attracted an additional 500 attendees, Popovic said. Other festival activities included a photo exhibit, "Tracing Jewish Culture," and a workshop on making documentaries. "It was a very good success," Sosberger said. "In Zagreb, we succeeded in establishing the film festival and in Belgrade we gave a taste of the festival. It had a very good effect for next year, and I think the same thing will happen in Sarajevo." The festival in Belgrade was on a "smaller scale," Sosberger said, adding that only four films were screened to 300 attendees. "It was very ambitious to have [the film festival] in three cities, so we decided to give a taste to Belgrade. We're hoping next year to have the same success there that we had in Zagreb this year." The Belgrade event featured a roundtable discussion with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees after a screening of the 2005 movie Live and Become, about Ethiopian Jews immigrating to Israel. The Sarajevo bit of the festival will take place this Friday and Sunday and will offer 10 films. A member of the Sarajevo Jewish community will speak about filming the documentary Sarajevo Mi Seudad de Oro, meaning "Sarajevo My God City," which tells the story of the Jewish community's role in helping people escape the last war in Bosnia, Popovic said. The main sponsor of the festival was the European Jewish Fund, which is focused on strengthening Jewish life in Europe. "When [European Jews] come and meet each other [at the film festival], then they see that there are a lot of interesting cultural dimensions of Jewish life," said Arie Zuckerman, the secretary-general of the European Jewish Fund. "We are starting a process of creating pride." Planners of the Jewish Film Festival hope to continue to expand the festivals held in Zagreb, Belgrade and Sarajevo. "I think the festival next year in Zagreb will be one week," Popovic said, adding that they would screen roughly 30 films. "We commend the Jewish community of Croatia for initiating this project," Zuckerman said. "We're looking to broaden this idea, maybe even taking it to Prague to create Jewish film festivals."