NEW YORK, NY.- The Jewish Museum
and the Film Society of Lincoln Center
will present the 20th annual New York Jewish Film Festival at the Film Societys Walter Reade Theater, The Jewish Museum, and The JCC in Manhattan, Jan. 12-27, 2011. The festivals 36 features and shorts from 14 countries31 screening in their world, U.S. or New York premieresprovide a diverse global perspective on the Jewish experience. In celebration of the festivals 20th anniversary, several film screenings will be followed by filmmakers and special guests in onstage discussions and/or performances.
The festival opens on Wednesday, January 12, with the New York premiere of Mahler on the Couch, Percy and Felix Adlons witty examination of composer Gustav Mahlers relationship with his tempestuous wife, Alma, and his consultations with Sigmund Freud. The film is filled with Mahlers sublime music, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. It joins the closing night film, Avi Neshers The Matchmakera New York premiere about a teenage boy in 1968 Haifa who gets a job working for a matchmaker who is a Holocaust survivor. This film was nominated for seven Israeli Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Festival documentary screenings include three world premieres. Daniel Burmans 36 Righteous Men (Los 36 Justos) follows a group of Orthodox Jews on their annual pilgrimage to the tombs of Tzaddikim (righteous men) in Russia, Ukraine and Poland, culminating in a visit to the tomb of the founder of Hasidism, the Baal Shem Tov. Jonathan Grubers Jewish Soldiers in Blue and Gray is the first film to address the struggles that American Jews faced on the battlefield and at the home front on both sides in the Civil War, and features the voice of Sam Waterson as Abraham Lincoln. Joseph Dormans Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness is a moving portrait of the great Yiddish writer, whose stories inspired Fiddler on the Roof.
Four documentaries examine facets of contemporary Israeli life. Eytan Harris As Lilith, receiving its New York premiere, takes the viewer through the aftermath of a teenage girls suicide. Her grieving mother wishes to cremate the daughters body over the objections of Israels emergency service. Anat Zurias Black Bus, also receiving its New York premiere, chronicles the lives of two women who leave the close-knit Haredi community and are consequently estranged from their families. Shlomi Eldars Precious Life, an HBO Documentary Film, tells the complex and touching story of Israeli and Palestinian doctors attempts to save the life of a Palestinian baby born without an immune system. Lisa Gossels My So-Called Enemy, receiving its New York premiere, tells the story of six Palestinian and Israeli girls who participate in a program meant to bridge the gap between the two sides.
Two films examine the deportation of French Jews during the Holocaust. Raphaël Delpards documentary, Convoys of Shame (Les Convois de la Honte), receiving its United States premiere, explores how SNCF (the French national rail company) transported thousands of Jews, Roma and members of the resistance to Nazi concentration camps. Accounts from eyewitnesses, historians, and lawyers are supplemented by dramatizations. Roselyne Boschs The Roundup (La Rafle), receiving its New York premiere, dramatizes the infamous Vel dHiv roundup of 13,000 Jews. The film, which has created a sensation in France, features Jean Reno (The DaVinci Code) and Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds).
There will be a special screening of George Marshalls 1953 Houdini in memory of Tony Curtis and in conjunction with The Jewish Museums current exhibition, Houdini: Art and Magic. This film stars Curtis as the legendary magician and escape artist Harry Houdini and Janet Leigh as his wife. The screening will be followed by a performance by contemporary magical entertainer Josh Rand.
Restored versions of two archival films will receive their United States premieres. Ján Kádars 1975 film, Lies My Father Told Me, follows 6-year old David, who lives in 1920s Montreal with his Canadian-born parents and his beloved grandfather, a junk peddler who emigrated from Russia. In Max Nossecks 1956 work,Singing in the Dark, Yiddish star Moishe Oysher plays a concentration camp survivor suffering from traumatic amnesia. One of the first feature films to dramatize the Holocaust, this was Oyshers only English-language film. There will also be a special screening of the classic 1939 Tevye, directed by and starring Maurice Schwartz, at The Jewish Museum. Restored with new subtitles by The National Center for Jewish Film, this adaptation of the Sholem Aleichem play will be followed by a book signing with J. Hoberman, author of the newly expanded Bridge of Light: Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds.
Eve Annenbergs Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish will have its United States premiere. A middle-aged ER nurse who is a bitterly lapsed observant Jew undertakes a Yiddish translation of Shakespeares great classic. In perhaps the first Yiddish mumblecore film, Annenberg creates a parallel universe where Romeo and Juliet stem from divergent streams of ultra-Orthodox Judaism and speak their lines in street-smart Yiddish.
Two additional dramas receive their New York premieres. Acclaimed Israeli director Eran Riklis The Human Resources Manager, based on A. B. Yehoshuas novel, follows a human resources manager at a Jerusalem bakery on a journey to Romania to accompany the corpse of an employee killed in a suicide bombing. Along the way he is at turns aided and hindered by her family, local politicians and a persistent reporter. This film is Israels official submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Fabián Hofmans poignant drama, I Miss You (Te Extraño) depicts the exile of 15 year-old Javier from his native Argentina during the 1970s. Sent to live in Mexico after the disappearance of his older brother, Javier struggles to grow up and to separate himself from the specter of his missing sibling.
Three documentaries highlight different facets of musical life. Erik Greenberg Anjous The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground, receiving its New York premiere, mixes mesmerizing performances by the Grammy Award-winning band with soulful interviews. Red Shirley, receiving its New York premiere, is directed by Lou Reed and photographed by portraitist Ralph Gibson. The film is a portrait of Reeds 100 year-old activist, unionist cousin. The Saturday, January 15 screening will be followed by a discussion with Lou Reed and Ralph Gibson. Garry Beitels The Socalled Movie is a portrait of klezmer hip-hop artist Socalled, aka, Josh Dolgin. A pianist, singer, arranger, rapper, producer and composer, he works to break the boundaries that separate music from different cultures, eras and generations. Socalled will perform following the screening on Saturday, January 22.
Three additional documentaries receive United States premieres. Nir David Zats & Zuzanna Solakiewiczs Cabaret Polska is an unusual take on the effects of the 1968 anti-Semitic campaign in Poland, combining documentary footage with cabaret performance and animation. Ivo Krankowski & Jan Śpiewaks 8 Stories That Havent Changed the World offers childhood memories of eight Polish Jews born before World War II. They vividly recall their first days at school, books they read, and their first loves. Raymond Leys Eichmanns End: Love, Betrayal, Death retells the story leading up to the capture of Adolph Eichmann by Mossad agents in Argentina through real-life testimonials interwoven with dramatic scenarios. At the heart of the film is the true story of a love affair between a Holocaust survivors daughter and the boy she did not realize was Eichmanns son.
Seven additional documentaries receive New York premieres. Yoav Potashs Crime After Crime, depicts the legal battle to free a woman imprisoned in California for over a quarter century due to her connection to the murder of the man who abused her. She finds her only hope for freedom when two attorneys one of them an Orthodox Jew step forward to take on her case. Lilly Rivlins Grace Paley: Collected Shorts explores the life of the acclaimed writer and activist through footage of Paley and her family, as well as interviews with Alice Walker, Allan Gurganus and others. In Sixty and the City, documentarian Nili Tal decides at age 60 that she doesnt want to get older alone. With honesty and an amazing sense of humor, she turns the camera on herself and some of her dates as she searches for romance on the Internet.
Kevin McNeers Stalin Thought of You looks at the life of Russian illustrator Boris Efimov, who produced political cartoons on nearly every world event of the past hundred years. Efimovs words, drawings and animated films are interwoven with rarely seen footage from the Russian State Film Archive. Rod Freedmans Wrong Side of the Bus focuses on Sidney Bloch, an internationally recognized professor of psychiatry and ethicist who returns to South Africa for his medical school reunion, determined to resolve the guilt that has troubled him for 40 years. Karen Goodman & Kirk Simons Strangers No More is about a Tel Aviv school where children from 48 countries, including Darfur, South Africa, and Eritrea, come together. Dan Wolmans Yolande: An Unsung Heroine tells the story of Yolande Gabai de Botton, considered by many the Jewish Mata Hari, who risked her sons life and her own while collecting intelligence in Egypt and fighting for the creation of an independent State of Israel while undercover as a reporter.