[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
The hard work of the Jewish Film Festival Committee has been on display over the past two weeks, with a dozen films that offered a steady and varied stream of entertainment and educational opportunities.
Many of the films were shown at the Village 8 Theatres, but this year’s festival also included several special events.
For the first time ever, the Jewish Community Center partnered with the Muhammad Ali Center for the showing of A Bottle in the Gaza Sea on February 10. The Muhammad Ali Center provided the venue and offered $2 admission to its exhibits for all who came to view the film. Thanks to a generous grant from the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence, the Film Festival did not charge for admission to the film and offered a dessert reception afterward.
By showing the film – which told of the development of an unlikely e-mail friendship between a Palestinian teenage boy in Gaza and an Israeli girl that started with a message in a bottle – at the Muhammad Ali Center, the Jewish Film Festival was able to reach out to an audience it doesn’t usually touch. The 2:30 p.m. scheduled showing sold out, so a second, unadvertised showing was arranged at 12:30 the same day, which permitted a total of 230 people to enjoy the film, moderated discussion and dessert.
Jewish Film Festival Director Marsha Bornstein said both the Muhammad Ali Museum and the JCC were pleased with the collaboration.
The Film Festival’s second major event turned out to be fun from start to finish. How many times can Hava Nagila be sung in one film without getting old? It turns out, it can be done many, many times in many, many different ways. The film Hava Nagila traced the history of the song and put it in context with other Jewish and Israeli music and a bit of history.
The large group that came to Adath Jeshurun on February 17 for the film, dinner and a concert by The Lost Tribe had a good time. Some people even got up and danced to what else? Hava Nagila, of course. Adath Jeshurun’s newly remodeled facilities added to the fun, as there were plenty of beautiful and comfortable places for people to sit, eat and schmooze.
As an added treat, Faye Davis celebrated her 96th birthday there.
As has become a tradition for the Jewish Film Festival, The Temple hosted three short films from the Ma’ale School of Television Film and the Arts in Jerusalem. The February 18 program was sponsored by The Temple Brotherhood and was followed by a dessert reception provided by the Louisville Jewish Film Committee and The Temple.
When Community went to press, two films remained to be shown. Watch the next issue for a report on “Wilfrid Israel,” a film with a Louisville connection.
The Jewish Film Festival Committee meets monthly for about nine months and reviews about 40 films each year to ensure the success of the event. “We are looking for variety,” explained Bornstein. “We don’t want too many documentaries or too many Holocaust films. We want to appeal to a cross-section of the community.
“The committee members are very opinionated,” she continued, “and that makes for very dynamic discussions.”
Keiley Caster is the committee chair, and has been serving in that capacity for four years. “Keiley is a true partner with me and is a very strong leader in every aspect of the Festival,” Bornstein said.
Other dedicated members of the committee are Sandra Braunstein, Rabbi David Ariel-Joel, Michael Furey, Jan Glaubinger, Lisa Goldberg, Angeline Golden, Meryl Kasdan, Louis Levy, Cantor David Lipp, Janet Naamani, Pami, Shelly Rifkin and Susan Waterman.
Major funders of the 2013 Jewish Film Festival are Congregation Adath Jeshurun, Bonnie Bizer, The Rosa Gladstein Fund, The Ann and Coleman Friedman Jewish Education Fund, the Jewish Federation of Louisville, the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence, The Louis Levy Film and Theatre Arts Fund, the Muhammad Ali Center and The Temple.