Jewish Film Festival 2009

[Archived from April 3, 2009]

The Jewish Community Center’s 11th Annual Jewish Film Festival, February 14-24, 2009, feature eight special films. The films, unless otherwise indicated, were shown at the Village 8.

The Festival opened with The Debt. In 1964, Rachel Brener was one of three Mossad agents, who captured the “Surgeon of Birkenau,” a monstrous Nazi war criminal. In their safe house, at the outskirts of Berlin, the three agents wait for their return to Israel in order to deliver “the Surgeon” for public trial. Before this can happen “The Surgeon” manages to escape. Unable to face their horrible failure, Rachel and her friends decide to fabricate the Surgeon’s death and return to Israel as “national heroes.”

In 1997, “The Surgeon suddenly” resurfaces in the Ukraine, determined to confess to his crimes against humanity. Now, the three ex-Mossad agents need to protect their lie.

The second film was Love and Dance. Chen, a young child, is battling a cultural conflict between his Russian born mother and Israeli father. She is cultured and used to the finer things in life. He is gruff on the outside but sweet on the inside; looking to make his young son a man rather than the wimp his mother is raising. One day, Chen stumbles upon a ballroom dance class for young people and sees Natalie, a stunning Russian young girl he immediately falls in love with. His interest in Natalie leads him to take ballroom dancing and ultimately to bridge the cultural divide of his own family.

Constantine’s Sword was shown twice. The first was a free showing with a discussion at the University of Louisville’s Chao Auditorium in the Ekstrom Library.

This is the story of James Carroll, the author of the book Constantine’s Sword and a former Catholic priest, on a journey to confront his past and uncover the roots of religiously inspired violence and war. His search reveals a growing scandal involving religious infiltration of the U.S. Military and the terrible consequences of religion’s influence on America’s foreign policy. The film brings the history of religious intolerance to life, tracing it as a source of the fanaticism that threatens the world today.

The next film was The Secrets. In this R-rated film, Naomi postpones marriage to the prodigy of her orthodox father to study at the Jewish seminary for women in the ancient Kabalistic seat of Safed following her mother’s death. Her quest for individuality takes a defiant turn when she befriends Michelle, a free-spirited, headstrong student. Their unlikely alliance is jeopardized by their relationship with a mysterious terminally ill tortured soul shunned by the community for her crime for passion. Together, they attempt to purge her sins through a series of secret rituals.

Un Secret is a compelling R-rated story of passion and guilt and tells the tale of a long-hidden truth and the consequences that arise from trying to hide it. Francois, a Jewish boy living in post World War II Paris, pieces together his parents’ past and discovers a secret within his family, as they are caught up in forces beyond their control. The film is the winner of 10 nominations and awarded the Grand Prize of the Americas at Montreal Film Festival.

The Festival continued with Noodle. Miri, a widowed 37-year-old El Al flight attendant, is unexpectedly grounded when she finds herself saddled with an abandoned young Chinese boy. In attempting to return the boy to his migrant-worker mother, who has been deported from Israel, she embarks upon a remarkable journey full of drama and humor that brings deep meaning to her life. The film was nominated for nine Israeli Academy Awards and is the winner of Montreal World Film Festival Award.

Praying for Lior
introduces Lior Liebling, a boy with Down Syndrome, and who has spent his entire life praying with utter abandon. Lior lost his mother at age six, and her words and spirit hover over the film. While everyone agrees Lior is closer to God, he’s also a burden, a best friend, an inspiration and an embarrassment, depending on which family member you ask. As Lior approaches bar mitzvah, different characters provide a window into life spent “praying with Lior.”

The 2009 Jewish Film Festival concluded with a special showing of Making Trouble at the Comedy Caravan.

This irresistible documentary profiles six great Jewish female comic entertainers:  Molly Picon, Fanny Brice, Sophie Tucker, Joan Rivers, Gilda Radner and Wendy Wasserstein.  Four of today’s leading Jewish female comedians provide the commentary, schmoozing over lunch at Katz’s Deli about what it means to be Jewish, female and funny. It includes archival footage from performances by the comedians, giving audiences a glimpse into their lives.

The sponsors of the 2009 Jewish Film Festival were the Rosa Gladstein Fund of Jewish Community Federation and The Louis Levy Film and Theatre Arts Fund. The University of Louisville is a sponsor of the UofL showing of Constantine’s Sword.

The co-chairs of the 2009 Jewish Film Festival are Kelley Caster and Angeline Golden.

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