Jewish Film Festival

Whenever there is a bar mitzvah, there is cause for celebration. This year, the Jewish Community of Louisville will mark the bar mitzvah year of the Louisville Jewish Film Festival. To celebrate, they’ve chosen 13 remarkable Jewish films, many of them winners of prestigious awards, that offer something for every taste.


So check out the films described below, mark the times and places on your calendar, and be part of this milestone season. Vaad approved dessert options available on request at dessert receptions.

A fun-filled opening night event is planned for Saturday, February 12. Hosted by Congregation Adath Jeshurun, the Israeli film Eli & Ben, the short film “Tough Crowd” will be shown at 7:30. A dessert reception will follow.

“Tough Crowd” animator Jeff Roth is coming back to his hometown to attend the showing of this eight-minute piece about an overscheduled, harassed, self-absorbed daughter who pays an overdue visit to her mother at her retirement home and withers from the disapproval she perceives from the staff and other residents.

Eli & Ben is the winner of the Audience Award from the Boston Jewish Film Festival. Described as a bittersweet coming-of-age drama, this film tells the story of Eli, a sheltered, mischievous 12-year-old, who is forced to question everything he believes when his father, a city architect, is charged with taking bribes. Through this 90-minute film, come along with Eli as he sets out to restore his father’s reputation while navigating questions of trust and friendship in Israeli society.

Admission for the opening night event is $15 for adults, $6 for students.

On Sunday, February 13, come to the Village 8 Theatres at 10 a.m. for a free showing of Inside Hana’s Suitcase. Space is limited, so even though it’s free, you must call 238-2731 for tickets.

A battered suitcase with the name Hana Brady on it arrives at the Tokyo Holocaust Museum from the Auschwitz Museum. Looking for a way to help her students better understand what can happen when people hate each other, teacher Fumiko Ishioka and her students undertake an extraordinary journey to discover Hana’s story. The details of Hana’s life which lead them to the discovery of her brother, George, in Toronto.

This 90-minute film, from Canada and the Czech Republic is recommended for students in grade 6 and up. It is sponsored by the Ann and Coleman Friedman Children’s Judaic Activities Fund.

Nora’s Will is a dark but warm comedy about family, suicide, recipes, rabbis, burial traditions and Christian florists. Come to the Village 8 Theatres at 7 p.m. on Sunday, February 13, to learn how Nora, whom we never see, plots to reunite her family and friends in Mexico City by ending her life on the eve of Passover.
Her suicide isn’t a surprise, since she has tried 14 times before. She leaves behind plans for a final Seder and a photo that may unlock a longtime secret.

This 90-minute Mexican film is the winner of seven Mexican Ariel Awards (equivalent to Academy Awards), including Best Picture. Tickets: $8.50 in advance or $10 at the door; $6 with student ID.

The Matchmaker, set in 1968 Haifa, tells the story of a Holocaust survivor who makes ends meet by brokering marriages and smuggling goods and the teenage boy who takes a summer job with him. Throughout the summer, the mysterious matchmaker takes the boy on a dangerous ride into the underbelly of Haifa.

Nominated for seven Israeli Academy Awards, including Best Picture, this film explores Israel as a fledgling country finding its feet while recounting a coming-of-age story about friendship and love.

This 118-minute film from Israel, hosted by Adath Jeshurun, will be shown on Monday, February 14, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8.50 in advance or $10 at the door; $6 with student ID. Coffee and dessert will be served following the film.

Each year, the Louisville Jewish Film Festival partners with the University of Louisville on one film. This year’s offering, A Film Unfinished, has won numerous awards, including the World Cinema Documentary Editing Award from the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and Best Documentary Film from the Israeli Cinema Awards. It was also shortlisted for a Best Documentary Academy Award.

During World War II, the Nazis had planned to make a propaganda film in the Warsaw Ghetto. They forced the residents to act in the film, but were unable to complete the project. Four reels of film recording life in the Warsaw Ghetto were found amid the rubble, and the producers of this documentary combined silent footage from the films with present-day commentary, war tribunal testimony, readings from diaries and accounts from survivors of the ghetto and the camps.

A Film Unfinished, 89 minutes, will be shown on Tuesday, February 15, at 7:30 p.m. at the University of Louisville’s Chao Auditorium in the Ekstrom Library. Admission is free and parking is available in the Speed Museum Parking Garage. The program includes a dessert reception.

The University of Louisville sponsors of this event are the College of Arts and Sciences, the Commission on Diversity and Racial Equality, the Commonwealth Center for the Humanities and Society, the Division of Humanities and the office of the vice provost for diversity.

On Thursday, February 17, catch one of Israel’s biggest box office hits. Lost Islands was nominated for 14 Israeli Film Academy Awards and captured four.

Set in the 1980’s, a fun-loving working class family with five children gets into crisis when twin brothers fall in love with the same girl. When a shocking family secret is uncovered, things begin to fall apart. This 103-minute film, which explores themes of marital fideltity, sibling rivalry, teen angst and family loyalty,  will be shown at 7 p.m. at the Village 8 Theatres. Tickets are $8.50 in advance or $10 at the door; $6 with student ID.

Straight from the opening night of the 2010 Jerusalem Film Festival, Le Rafle will be shown on Saturday, February 19, at 7:30 p.m. at the Village 8 Theatres.

Based on the true story, Le Rafle focuses on a young Jewish boy during the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup, the July 1942 mass arrest of 13,000 Jews in Paris by the French police, working on government orders to put Jews on trains for extermination camps in the East in collaboration with the Nazis.

Filmed in France, Germany and Hungary, this film is 124 minutes. Tickets are $8.50 in advance or $10 at the door; $6 with student ID.

The Derby City Film Festival and the Jewish Film Festival are teaming up to present Voice Teacher on Sunday, February 20, at 2:30 p.m. in the Eifler Theatre at the Clifton Center, 2117 Payne St. Don Roberts, the voice teacher, and Daniel Mendelson, the director, will attend the showing and discuss this 119-minute film.

Don Roberts is a construction worker – only he doesn’t build buildings – he builds throats; conducting lessons over the phone and going to outrageous lengths for the doctrine that voice teaching is sacred. Day after day, Don – obsessive, neurotic, at times harsh and always engaging – teaches world-renowned cantors and aspiring opera singers.

Sponsored by Cantor David Lipp’s Discretionary Fund at Adath Jeshurun, tickets are just $6 and are available at the JCC or online at They will be available at the box office an hour prior to the film.

When terrorists strike, news reports provide us with images of the destruction and accounts of the injured and wounded. Anita, to be shown Sunday, February 20, at 7 p.m. at the Village 8 Theatres, tells the story of a different kind of victim.

Anita Feldman, a girl with Down Syndrome, is lovingly cared for by her mother and spends weekdays helping her run a small stationery store in their Jewish neighborhood in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Everything changes on July 18, 1994, when a car bomb explodes outside the AMIA Jewish community center, killing 85 and injuring hundreds.

Disoriented, Anita wanders the city in search of her missing mother, touching the lives of those around her while learning to care for herself. Meantime, her brother searches desperately for her.

This 104-minute film from Argentina is the winner of the Best picture and Audience Awards from the 2009 Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival. Tickets are $8.50 in advance or $10 at the door; $6 with student ID.

This year, we mark 63 years since the establishment of the State of Israel, one of the biggest success stories in modern history. Yet the image that Israelis hold of their state and the image we hold in the Diaspora can be very different.

On Monday, February 21, the Louisville Jewish Film Festival will present three short films from the Ma’ale School of Television, Film and Arts in Jerusalem at 7 p.m. in the Chapel at The Temple.

The school is unique – a graduate school for Orthodox filmmakers. The three films explore burning issues of Jewish/Israeli identity in a fearless, artistic manner. They bring an unusual, authentic voice from Israeli society to the Jewish world.

In the 29-minute film, “And Thou Shalt Love,” Ohad, who studies in a program for Orthodox soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces, experiences profound loneliness while he conceals the fact that he is gay. When his study partner returns from the Army, he finds he can no longer evade the difficult questions.

In “Elyokim,” 31 minutes, a brilliant Orthodox student is in love with the rabbi’s daughter. Social conventions mean that they will never be formally introduced, so he takes the initiative.

In “Shira,” 29 minutes, Shira, the mother of five in a religious community collapses under the stress of her responsibilities and her husband’s expectation that she will continue to bring children into the world, so she tries to take matters into her own hands.

This program is sponsored by The Temple, Congregation Adath Israel Brith Sholom. Admission is free and refreshments will be served following the films.

The Louisville Jewish Film Festival is funded in part by the Rosa Gladstein Fund and the Louis Levy Film and Theatre Arts Fund of the Jewish Community of Louisville. Sponsors include Dennis and Judy Hummel and Karl and Roanne Victor. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available.

Members of the Film Festival Committee are Chair Keiley Castor, Rabbi David Ariel-Joel, Matthew Biberman, Sandra Braunstein, Angeline Golden, Sharon Goodman, Michelle Jones, Jackie Kanovitz, Meryl Kasdan, Louis Levy, Cantor David Lipp, Pami, and Stephi Wolff.

For more information, contact Film Festival Director Marsha Bornstein, 238-2731 or click here.

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