The Jewish Community Center’s 2013 Louisville Jewish Film Festival brings a more mature line up of movies and documentaries in its 15th year. The festival, which runs February 9-21 at several locations in Louisville, will challenge audiences with the complexities of Jewish culture and what it means to be Jewish in the modern era.
The Jewish Film Festival strives to show the richness and diversity of the Jewish experience by presenting the best contemporary international films. Through feature films, shorts, documentaries and student films, as well as conversations with guest speakers, the festival explores Jewish identity with the hope of increasing tolerance and educating its audiences.
Some of the films we have shown have gone on to be nominated for Academy Awards and remade into Hollywood films. Many of them have received Israel’s highest awards for films.
Tickets are $8.50 in advance, $10 at the door, $6 student unless otherwise stated.
The festival starts with a bang. On Saturday, February 9, My Best Enemy brings the drama of World War II in Nazi Germany to the screen. Two best friends must switch places to recover a stolen piece of artwork while competing over a shared love interest. The movie will be shown at Village 8 Theaters at 7:30 p.m.
In partnership with the Muhammad Ali Center, the Jewish Film Festival will screen A Bottle in the Gaza Sea on Sunday, February 10, at 2:30 p.m. at the Muhammad Ali Center, 144 N. 6th St. Admission to this film is free with a $2 admission to view the exhibits at the Ali Center before the film. Please call the JCC, 459-0660, to ensure your admittance to the museum.
A Bottle in the Gaza Sea tells the story of Tal, an Israeli who experiences a terrorist attack at her local café. Instead of hatred, she has her brother throw a bottle with a message of peace into the Gaza Sea. When she receives an email response from Naïm, a teenage Palestinian, the two develop a friendship through email. A discussion led by Rabbi Joe Rooks Rapport and dessert will follow the movie.
The Louisville Jewish Film Festival will continue on Tuesday, February 12, with The Flat, an Israeli documentary that will be shown at the Village 8 at 7 p.m. This winner of Best Documentary and Best Director in the Jerusalem Film Festival begins with the emptying of a flat when the Goldfinger family discovers a preserved issue of a pro-Nazi newspaper among their dead grandmother’s things. Shocked to learn that his grandparents maintained a friendship before and after the war with a Nazi official and his wife, the filmmaker’s investigation exposes powerful barriers of denial.
On Wednesday, February 13, the Film Festival will present Remembrance at 7 p.m. at the Village 8.
Winner of the Audience Award Berlin Film Festival and Best Drama Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival, in this epic romance, based on actual events, a Polish partisan man and German Jewish woman forge an unshakeable bond during the Holocaust. After a daring escape from a Nazi death camp, Tomasz and a pregnant Hannah are forcibly separated and each is convinced the other has died.
The events of 1944 Poland are juxtaposed with 1976 Brooklyn, where an older Hannah glimpses a television interview that makes her realize that Tomasz might still be alive. A spiral of emotions and moral ambiguities are triggered, as Hannah must now confront her unresolved past.
Kaddish for a Friend will be shown on Saturday, February 16, at 7:30 p.m. at the Village 8. Growing up in a Palestinian refugee camp, 14-year-old Ali learns to hate Jews at an early age. When he and his family escape to a new life in Berlin, Ali yearns to be accepted by fellow Arab youths. To prove himself, he breaks into the apartment of his neighbor, Alexander, a feisty, elderly Russian Jewish war veteran. When Alexander catches the boys during the robbery, he recognizes Ali, whom he reports to the police. To avoid deportation, Ali must seek out the trust and forgiveness of his enemy.
Get ready to party on Sunday, February 17, as the Louisville Jewish Film Festival teams up with Congregation Adath Jeshurun to present the film Hava Nagila at 4 p.m., followed by a special concert by the local klezmer band, The Lost Tribe, and a light dinner.
Sung by Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis, Elvis and many others, “Hava Nagila” is one of the most famous pieces of music in the world. Could there be a bar or bat mitzvah dance or a wedding without it? This film encapsulates the Jewish journey over the past 150 years from shtetls to kibbutzim to America, revealing the power and joy of the song.
Tickets for the movie, concert and dinner are $22 for adults and $8 for students. A Vaad-approved option is available upon advance request.
It has become a Louisville Jewish Film Festival tradition to include three short films from from The Ma’ale School of Television, Film and the Arts in Jerusalem. This year’s films, sponsored by The Temple Brotherhood, will be shown on Monday, February 18, at 7 p.m. in The Temple’s Waller Chapel.
The films are:
“Barriers” – Uri and two soldiers under his command are manning a checkpoint in the territories. Two women from the “Watch” organization interfere with their work. He is ordered to close the checkpoint due to a bomb threat.
“The Divide” – Kobi has joined the army despite his parent’s opposition. He returns home for Shabbat before he is given the award for Outstanding Soldier and discovers that an order has been given for his family’s eviction.
“Stand Up” – Dudi is learning in a yeshiva to become a teacher. His wife doesn’t know he spends most of his time trying to be a stand-up comic. His friends find out and he is scared his wife will discover his secret.
Admission for these films is free, and the showing will be followed by a dessert reception provided by the Louisville Jewish Film Committee and The Temple. A Vaad-approved option will be available upon advance request.
Another Film Festival tradition is screening a film with a strong Louisville connection. This year, the 30-minute documentary, “Wilfrid Israel,” was co-produced by Bonnie Bizer, whose cousin was a founder of Kibbutz Hazorea. It will be shown along with a second film, Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story, on Wednesday, February 20, at 7 p.m. at the Village 8.
Wilfrid Israel inherited the largest department store in Berlin. An art collector, he donated priceless pieces to Kibbutz Hazorea, which he helped establish in 1936. Using photographs, interviews and archival material relating to the Nazis, the film reveals a man driven to save many lives through the creation of a children’s settlement in Palestine and involvement in the operation and financing of the Kindertransport. Wilfrid Israel helped hundreds of his employees to emigrate and provided funding to them for two years as they made the transition to their new lives.
Follow Me is a poignant biography of Yonatan Netanyahu, an army commando killed in Operation Entebbe and brother of current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The film contains his introspective writings and shows his passion and human frailty. The journey comes to a crossroads in July 1976 as Netanyahu led a raid to rescue Israeli hostages from a hijacked flight at Uganda’s Entebbe airport. Newly revealed information and interviews with his brother, ex-wife and Ehud Barak, defense minister, are enlightening.
The Festival will conclude on Thursday, February 21, with the showing of My Australia at 7 p.m. at the Village 8. In this touching drama set in the 1960’s, 10-year old Tadek and his older brother Andrzej live in a working class neighborhood in Poland, where they are part of a gang with neo-Nazi affiliations. After being arrested for beating up Jews, their mother confesses to them that she is a Holocaust survivor. She decides she must remove them from their toxic environment and tells them that they will be moving to Australia, when in fact, their destination is Israel. There they struggle to find their identity while building a new life in a foreign land.
A complete schedule, film descriptions and trailers are also online.
To purchase tickets, visit www.jewishlouisville.org or call the JCC at 459-0660. On the day of the show, tickets will be available one hour prior to the film at the venue. Tickets to all films are available online at jewishlouisville.org, by phone at 459-0660 or in person at the front desk at the JCC.
Donations to the Film Festival are also welcome and can be made at the website or by calling the JCC.
$500-$999 Executive Producer: Receive 12 film tickets of your choice, including two to the opening and closing events, and name listing in Festival Program.
$250-$499 Producer: Receive six film tickets of your choice, including two to the opening and closing events, and name listing in Festival Program.
$118-$249 Director: Receive four film tickets, not including opening and closing events, and name listing in Festival Program.
$36-$117 Actor: Name listing in Festival Program.
Donations must be made by February 1 for the donors’ names to be listed in the Festival Program.