JEWISHFILM.2012 The National Center for Jewish Film's 15th Annual Film Festival April 18 – 29
WWW.JEWISHFILM.ORG for tickets, full schedule scheule, films, trailers, guests and more!
VENUES: Museum of Fine Arts, The Institute of Contemporary Art, West Newton Cinema
East Coast Premiere
Director: Leander Haußmann | Germany | 2011 | 110 min | German w/ English subtitles
In this black comedy satirizing the Nazi regime and Stalin’s reign of terror, writer director Leander Haußmann pays homage to Ernst Lubitsch’s 1940s classic To Be or Not to Be. In 1930s Berlin, Cabaret star Hans Zeisig (Michael Bully Herbig) gets by on charisma and talent until he finally pushes the envelope too far in his popular but provocative Stalin-Hitler comedy act. Having wrangled false papers, he sets out for Hollywood, but ends up in Moscow instead, at the infamous Hotel Lux, home to Communist politicos and European exiles fleeing Hitler. A case of mistaken identity brings Zeisig face to face with Stalin and Zeisig must pull off the performance of a lifetime if he is to survive. When Zeisig is reunited with his beautiful Communist love interest Frida (Thekla Reuten, The American) and his former Jewish stage partner Meyer (Jürgen Vogel, The Wave), the three embark on a zigzag screwball adventure. Winner of the Bavaria Film Award and major prizes at the Rome Int’l Film Festival.
Sneak Preview - Special Advance Screening
Director: Daniel Edelstyn | UK | 2012 | 75 min
A few years ago, British filmmaker Daniel Edelstyn became mildly obsessed after discovering his grandmother’s journals in the attic of his family home. Maroussia Zorokovich, the daughter of wealthy Ukrainian Jews, was a budding writer and dancer before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution sent her into exile. Propelled by his fascination with Maroussia, Edelstyn travels to the Ukraine in search of his Jewish roots. When he discovers that the vodka distillery opened by his great grandfather in 1904 is still in operation, Edelstyn decides—despite his utter lack of business experience—to become a liquor entrepreneur. This funny, charming documentary employs an ambitious mixture of vérité cinematography and inventive animated sequences created by and starring the artist Hilary Powel (Edelstyn’s wife). Released theatrically in the UK in March 2012. “**** A tender, extraordinary underdog tale filled with humour, fear and above all, spirit. A heady delight of a documentary that will warm your cockles.” -Empire Magazine “A barnstorming tale of vodka and revolution.” -BBC Radio
Director: Britta Wauer | Germany | 2011 | 90 min | German & Russian w/ English subtitles
North of Berlin’s city center, amid 100 acres of statuesque trees and lush foliage, lies the peaceful and secluded 130-year-old Weißensee Jewish Cemetery, the oldest Jewish cemetery still in use in Europe. 115,000 graves and a meticulous archive of paper records have miraculously survived, even through the Nazi regime. Britta Wauer’s compelling portrait of this extraordinary place of both Jewish continuity and loss follows a delightful array of characters from around the world, past and present: mourners, tourists, a young family residing at the cemetery, a third-generation gravedigger and an ornithologist studying rare birds of prey. Winner of the prestigious Panorama Audience Award at the Berlin Int’l Film Festival. “Poetic and exquisite.” –New York Times “A marvelously entertaining documentary...It is as charming and delightful a film as one will ever encounter.” –Huffington Post “Elegant...graceful and charming…a delightful surprise.” –Jewish Week “An engaging and surprisingly playful movie.” –NY Magazine “A playful, poetic and all-around charming documentary.” –LA Times “Astonishing...an indelible must-see film.” –The Forward
Director: Ron Blau USA | 1981 | 15 min
Introduced by Director & Boston Filmmaker Ron Blau
Special screening of Ron Blau’s acclaimed (Berlin Film Festival and Museum of Modern Art, New York) experimental short film which uses home movies and overlapping soundtracks in re-animating his mother’s childhood growing up Jewish in 1930s Berlin before antisemitism drove the family from Germany.
New England Premiere
Director: Feliks Falk | Poland | 2010 | 105 min | Polish & German w/ English subtitles
In German-occupied Krakow, Joanna (Urszula Grabowska), a young Polish woman whose husband is presumed dead at the front, makes a life changing, split second decision after stumbling upon an 8-year-old Jewish girl hiding in a church. Joanna harbors the girl in her apartment, but pressures mount and Joanna is faced with tough decisions when neighbors and family become suspicious and it is unclear who can be trusted. Additional complications arise in this gripping drama based on a true story when Joanna falls victim to advances from a Nazi officer and threats from the Polish resistance. Feliks Falk, who, along with Krzysztof Kieslowski, Andrzej Wajda, Agnieszka Holland and others, pioneered the influential Polish film movement known as The Cinema of Moral Concern, directs Grabowska in a tour-de-force performance that won the actress multiple awards. Falk’s experience as a painter is evident in the gray palette of wintertime Poland and in the shades of gray that war brings to bear on morality. Winner of top awards at the Moscow Int’l Film Festival and Polish Film Awards.
Director: Gabriella Bier | Sweden | 2010 | 92 min | English, Hebrew, Arabic & German w/ English subtitles
Jasmin and Assi are newlyweds, but a future together seems impossible for these real-life, star crossed lovers: She’s a Jewish dancer from Israel, he’s a Palestinian sculptor from Ramallah. All this couple wants is to build a life together removed from regional politics and history, but legal restrictions and societal disapproval from both communities prevent them from living together in Israel or the West Bank. The couple’s plan to move to Germany meets with similar roadblocks. As prejudice and petty regulations test their seemingly impermeable bond, the couple’s hopes rise and fall with each bureaucratic hurdle. Can their love survive? Gabriella Bier’s thoughtful, honest and expertly made documentary is an intimate view into the consequences of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Well-crafted and poignant!” –Variety “Heartbreaking and unusually intimate.” –The Atlantic “Touching...will melt your heart.” –Washington City Paper
USA Premiere of Restored Films
Treat yourself to the best laugh you’ll have all year!
Berlin-born comedian Max Davidson (1875-1950) appeared in 200 Hollywood films between 1912 and 1942. In the 1920s, working with Hal Roach and Leo McCarey, Davidson created some of the most uproarious comedies in film history–-and some of the most Jewish! Playing an old world Jew adrift in a land of “goyim,” Davidson, and his crack comedy co-stars, found the knock-down drag-out hilarity in the antics of a stereotypical European Jew struggling like a fish out of water in 1920s Los Angeles. Films restored by the Munich Filmmuseum.
“Why Girls Say No” Producer: Hal Roach Studios, USA, 1927, 23 min, Silent with Music
Max hopes his daughter will marry “a nice Jewish boy” only to find her falling for “an Irisher” – with a secret.
“Jewish Prudence” Producer: Hal Roach Studios, USA, 1927, 21 min, Silent with Music
Trying to find vocations for his good-for-nothing sons, Papa Gimplewart comes up with a none-too-brilliant scheme that lands him in court.
“The Boy Friend” Producer: Hal Roach Studios, USA, 1928, 20 min, Silent with Music
When Max’s daughter brings home a darling young man she’s met at the shoe store, her parents try to prevent the marriage by acting crazy as loons.
New England Premiere
Director: Ami Drozd | Israel/Poland | 2011 | 96 min | Polish & Hebrew w/ English subtitles
In a poor neighborhood in 1960s Łódź, Poland, 10-year-old Tadek (Jakub Wróblewski) and his older brother Andrzej (Lukasz Sikora) are in a neo-Nazi street gang that beats up Jewish kids. When they are arrested, their mother Halina (Aleksandra Poplawska) finally reveals that although she raised them as Catholics, they are in fact Jews and that she is a Holocaust survivor. After telling Tadek they are going to Australia, she actually moves them to Israel. When Halina fails to find employment in Haifa, Tadek and Andrzej are dispatched to a kibbutz, where they experience profound culture shock. This tender and humorous period drama is based on writer-director Ami Drozd’s own experiences. Jakub Wróblewski, the actor playing Tadek, gives one of the year’s best film performances as the young anti hero, whose angel face belies his precocious, streetwise naughtiness. Winner of the Best Film Audience Award at the Jerusalem Int’l Film Festival.
North American Premiere
Director: Marian Marzynski | USA | 2012 | 90 min | English & Polish w/ English subtitles
Q&A with Director Marian Marzynski
Emmy Award-winning filmmaker (and Boston resident) Marian Marzynski began his 40-year career in media in his native Poland as a journalist and popular television show host. A wry observer of life and a pioneer of European cinéma-vérité, Marzynski, has worked alongside Roman Polanski and taught American filmmakers such as Gus Van Sant at the Rhode Island School of Design. His films include the documentaries Shtetl, Anya, Settlement (NCJF’s Jewishfilm.2008) and dozens of other films, many for European TV and PBS’s Frontline. Marzynski was born in Poland and survived the Holocaust as a Jewish child hidden by Christians. In Never Forget to Lie, the most recent of Marzynski’s critically-lauded autobiographical films, the director explores, for the first time, his own wartime childhood and the experiences of other child survivors, teasing out their feelings about Poland, the Catholic Church, and the ramifications of identities forged under circumstances where survival began with the directive “never forget to lie.”
Director: Nadav Lapid | Israel | 2011 | 100 min | Hebrew w/ English subtitles
A boldly conceived drama pivoting on the initially unrelated activities of an elite anti-terrorist police unit and some wealthy young anarchists, The Policeman is a striking and controversial debut feature from writer-director Nadav Lapid. Provocatively timely in light of recent unrest tied to social and economic inequities in Israel, this is a powerfully physical film in its depiction of the muscular, borderline sensual way the macho cops relate to one another, as well as for the emphatic style with which the opposing societal forces are contrasted and finally pitted against one another. Although the youthful revolutionaries come off as petulant and spoiled, their point about the growing gap between the Israeli haves and have-nots cannot be ignored, even by the policemen sent on a rare mission to engage their fellow countrymen. An experiment in tone that posits a new direction for Israeli cinema, The Policeman is bathed in cool emotional detachment deliberately juxtaposed against its operatic story. Winner of three prizes at the Jerusalem Film Festival and a special jury prize at the Locarno Film Festival. Official selection New York Film Festival.
Sneak Preview - Special Advance Screening
Director: Jesse Zook Mann | USA | 2012 | 60 min
Q&A with Director Jesse Zook Mann & Producer Evan Kleinman
Profiling Hassidic punk rockers, Yiddish street performers, African-American Jewish activists and more, Punk Jews explores provocateurs and committed Jews who are asking what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century. Jewish artists, activists and musicians from diverse backgrounds and communities are defying norms and expressing their Jewish identities in unconventional ways. In the process, they are challenging stereotypes and breaking down barriers. Meet Yishai, lead singer of Moshiach Oi, the Sukkos Mob of the New Yiddish Rep, the hipster Orthodox participants of Cholent, the Amazing Amy Yoga Yenta, Kal Holczler founder of Voices of Dignity, and African American Hassidic hip hop sensation Y-Love.
New England Premiere
Director: Joel Katz | USA | 2012 | 59 min
Q&A with Director Joel Katz
In this deeply personal and emotional exploration of racial identity, filmmaker Joel Katz explores what it means to be white in America through the story of his own family. The son of white, Jewish, immigrant parents who assimilated in 1930s Brooklyn, Katz grew up with a father who was a professor at Howard University, a traditionally black college, during the turbulent civil rights and black power period, an experience that challenged the elder Katz’s attitudes towards US race relations. Katz himself became a professor at a predominantly non-white university, and later confronted his own racial attitudes when he and his wife elected to become adoptive parents to a mixed-race child. Highly engaging and thought-provoking, White: A Memoir in Color packs a powerful punch as it exposes intricate and intimate questions about race and prejudice, identity and family. From the director of the award winning film Strange Fruit (NCJF’s Jewishfilm.2002). “Adoption almost immediately brings up issues around race. There is nothing quite like having to identify what race child you are comfortable raising to make you look more deeply into your own identity.” – Joel Katz in White
Director: Beverly Siegel | Director: Beverly Siegel USA | 2011 | 60 min | English & Hebrew w/ English subtitles
Q&A with Director Beverly Siegel and Lisa Fishbayn, Hadassah-Brandeis Institute
This important documentary explores the experiences of agunot , women whose husbands refuse to grant them a Jewish divorce. Women Unchained exposes “get -o-nomics” extortion schemes and the connection between get abuse and domestic violence. Shot and profiling communities in Israel, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles, Women Unchained includes illuminating interviews with leading women’s rights advocates, rabbis and experts. Narrated by actress Mayim Bialik (Blossom, The Big Bang Theory), Women Unchained offers strategies for what women can do to protect themselves. “A daring yet dignified film…The filmmakers have done Jewish society a favor…by tackling the agunah problem with deep understanding of this complex issue.” –Jerusalem Post