January marks the beginning of a new film festival season's and what better way to kick it off than with the 21st annual New York Jewish Film Festival, Jan. 11â€“26? Presented in partnership with The Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the festival promises to provide a diverse global perspective on the Jewish experience with 35 features and shorts from 11 countries, many of which will be followed by post-screening Q&As with filmmakers and special guests in attendance.Â
The opening night kicks off with the New York premiere of Guy Nattiv"s Mabul (The Flood). Nominated for six Ophir Awards (Israeli Academy Awards), Mabul follows 13-year-old Yoni on the eve of his bar mitzvah. Facing bullying from his classmates, an institutionalized older brother living with autism and parents who are barely on speaking terms, Yoni"s bar mitzvah becomes the catalyst for buried family secrets to come to light.
For those who have harbored a soft spot for Catskills resorts ever since they first saw Dirty Dancing, be sure to see the closing night film, the world premiere of Caroline Laskow and Ian Rosenberg"s Welcome to Kutsher"s: The Last Catskills Resort, a documentary about the last surviving Jewish resort in the Catskills and its overarching influence on sports, entertainment and â€œBorscht Belt comedians.
The festival"s world premiere documentaries scan the globe, from Africa to the streets of Paris. Jonathan Gruber and Ari Daniel Pinchot"s Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story presents a moving portrait of Jonathan â€œYoni Netanyahu, who was killed at the age of 30 leading Israeli special forces in the 1976 hostage rescue mission at the Entebbe Airport in Uganda.
Avishai Yeganyahu Mekonen and Shari Rothfarb Mekonen"s 400 Miles to Freedom documents the 1984 escape from Ethiopia to Israel of the Beta Israel, a secluded, 2,500-year-old community of observant Jews in the northern Ethiopian mountains.
Filmmaker Joel Katz explores what it means to be white in America in White: A Memoir in Color. Katz examines his father"s role as a white professor at Howard University during the civil rights era and the influence it had on his and his wife"s decision to adopt a mixed-race child. Sam Ball"s fascinating Joann Sfar Draws from Memory details the life of graphic novelist and filmmaker Joann Sfar, author of the popular The Rabbi"s Cat series and director of the recent film, Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life. The film follows Sfar as he visits his favorite Parisian neighborhood spots and muses on his artistic process and the influence of his Algerian and East European family heritage.
For musical fans, Eytan Fox"s New York premiere, Mary Lou, promises to be â€œa cross between the television series Glee and the musical Mamma Mia! by way of La Cage aux Folles. It follows a young man who finds himself in the Tel Aviv gay community, performing as a drag queen while searching for his estranged mother.
Gili Gaon"s Iraq â€˜N" Roll bridges the past and present with the story of acclaimed Jewish musicians (and brothers) Salah and Daud al-Kuwaiti. Considered the fathers of modern Iraqi music in the 1930s, the documentary follows Salah"s grandson, popular Israeli rock musician Dudu Tassa, through the process of remixing their original tunes for contemporary listeners.
Richard Oswald"s 1933 musical My Song Goes Round the World showcases the talents of the great tenor Joseph Schmidt, known as the Jewish Caruso, who faced challenges in both career and love while standing less than 5 feet tall.
Dramatic features include Adrian Panek"s dazzling period drama Daas, about the influence of 18th-century false messiah Jacob Frank. Branko Ivanda"s Lea and Darija tells the story of 13-year-old stars Lea Deutsch, known as the Croatian Shirley Temple, and her dancing partner Darija Gasteiger in pre-World War II Croatia. Katia Lewkowicz"s romantic comedy, Bachelor Days Are Over, follows a groom-to-be grappling with the conflict between marriage and following his heart.
Single screening tickets for The New York Jewish Film Festival are $13, $9 for students and seniors (62+) and $8 for Film Society and Jewish Museum members. For tickets, more information and a full schedule, visit www.filmlinc.com or www.thejewishmuseum.org or call 212-875-5601.
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