2 0 0 5 F e s t i v a l
Yidl Mitn Fidl (Yidl and
Directed by Joseph Green
Yiddish w/English sub-titles
black & white, 90min
The Yiddish film industry, while vibrant and creative, was short-lived, having
been snuffed out by the Nazi conquest of Poland and later extermination of most
of Europe's Jewish population. That industry left us two principal legacies,
one being "Tevye," upon which the memorable Hollywood production
of "Fiddler on the Roof" is based, and the other being "Yidl
Mitn Fidl." Starring Molly Picon, the grande dame of the Yiddish stage,
this endearing film depicts the life of Yiddle, a poor, itinerant violinist,
who, with her father, also a musician, traverses the Polish countryside during
the 1930's. Disguised, for professional reasons, as a boy, she is thwarted
in romance because she can never disclose her true gender to the man she loves.
To reveal more of the twists of this story would spoil the surprise ending of
this delightful little gem. While the technical aspects of this film seem in
some ways quaint and primitive by today's standards, this is more than
offset by the film's natural charm and the accuracy with which it depicts
small-town Jewish life immediately prior to its decimation during the Holocaust.
In that sense alone, this nostalgic musical comedy is a precious relic.
A Bridge of Books
Directed & produced by Sam Ball
USA , 2001, English, 13 minutes
The story of the National Yiddish Book Center.
"A Bridge of Books" is an engaging, often funny, documentary film produced by Sam
Ball for the National Yiddish Book Center. It chronicles the adventures of an enterprising
23-year-old named Aaron Lansky, who rallied together an international network of volunteers
and set out to rescue the world's Yiddish books. Twenty years and 1.5 million Yiddish books
later, he has helped save a rich, diverse, and surprisingly modern literature from oblivion.
Winner of the 2003 HRWIFF Nestor Almendros Prize for courage in filmmaking
Directed by Mick Davis
English, color, 126 minutes (nudity)
Arriving like a comet, he danced on tables, drunk with passion for life and his ending
was the tragedy of true genius like Van Gogh and Mozart.
It is 1919. The Great War is over and Paris nightlife is filled with dark passion and uncontrollable
obsessions. In the café Rotonde, the refuge of the artistic elite, we find a table,
unlike any other in history: Picasso, Riverra, Stein, Cocteau, Soutine, Utrillo and Modigliani.
This is the untold story of the bitter rivalry between Modigliani and Picasso. Two men
whose envy of each other is fuelled by their brilliance, their arrogance, their passions.
It is also the story of the greatest love tragedy in art history. Jeanne Hebuterne was
a beautiful young Catholic girl whose only fault, in her father's eyes was to fall
in love with Modigliani, a Jew. Driven by his religious bigotry, Jeanne's father secretly
sends their baby away to a convent in some far away place.
At the same time, Paris is preparing for an annual art competition. The prize is money
and guaranteed career. But until this moment Picasso has never entered because he is Picasso.
And Modigliani has never entered because he is Modigliani. But now Modigliani is cornered.
He and Jeanne need to save their child. Drunk with anger, soaked by rain, he bursts into
the Rotonde, and watched by Picasso and all others, he puts his name in the competition.
Picasso then enters and follows suite. Paris becomes frenzied with excitement.
Destiny will watch over this great night and the next day she will deal a hand that shaped
all their lives for the rest of time.
Starring: Andy Garcia, Elza Zylberstein, Hippolyte Girardot, Omid Djalili, Peter Capaldi,
For more info. http://www.modiglianithemovie.com/
Underwritten by Gloria and Ken Levy
Directed by Dan Verete
English/Hebrew/German with English sub-titles
Two Israeli used car salesmen, one plodding by nature and the other a hustler, purchase
a venerable and seemingly pristine American limousine, which the hustler is certain they
will be able to re-sell overseas for a once-in-a-lifetime profit. They then travel by sea
to Hamburg, together with the car. At this point, however, Fortune begins to play cruel
tricks on them, dashing not only their dreams of easy money but also threatening to strand
them in a strange and foreign land in which the hustler, himself a child of Holocaust survivors,
is especially uncomfortable. During their adventures, the two Israelis are forced to examine
the nature of their friendship and also to acknowledge to themselves and one another what
in life is truly important. This film, which is faithful to the road movie genre, won Best
Script and Best Actor (Moshe Igvy) awards at the 2004 Jerusalem International Film Festival.
Cast: Moshe Ivgy, Avi Kushner
From Sam Spiegel Film & TV School Collection
Directed by Dan Carmeli
Writers: Dan Carmeli, Eitan Anner
Hebrew w/English subtitles
Danny Tranto will do anything to turn Yaron, his nine-year-old son, into a famous soccer
player. Yaron, however, has other ideas.
The Mad Adventures of Rabbi
Directed by Gerard Oury
French w/ English sub-titles
This French classic from 1973, now a cult favorite, is at once both the most politically
incorrect of films and also a lineal descendant of the screwball comedy genre, which flourished
in Hollywood during the 1930's and 1940's. The famed French comedian Louis
de Funès plays a hotheaded and bigoted businessman who, to escape both Arab terrorists
and also the police, both of whom have mistaken him for someone that he is not, impersonates
a famous Hassidic rabbi who is visiting Paris from New York. The film pokes ceaseless fun
at everyone, including, the French, Arabs, and Jews. De Funès's timing, and
his performance in general, are masterful, which caused this film to set European and later
American box office records when it was released. This film was a sell-out at the 2000
San Jose Jewish Film Festival, and we are pleased to bring it back, by popular demand,
this time in a rare 35mm format
Starring: Louis de Funes, Marcel Dalio, Claude Giraud and Miou-Miou
For more info, go to: http://frenchfilms.topcities.com/index3.html and
The Syrian Bride
Directed by Eran Riklis
English, Arabic, Hebrew with sub-titles
Mona's wedding day was the saddest day of her life. She knew that once she crosses
the border between Israel and Syria to marry Taller, she will never be able to go back
to her family in Majdal Shams, a Druze village in the Golan Heights.
The story of Mona's wedding day portrays all those gathered for the wedding – the
family, led by Hammed, a strong-headed political activist, government officials, soldiers,
police officers, Red Cross workers, Druze, Syrians and Israelis, focusing on Mona's
older sister Amal, a modern woman trapped in traditions she wants to break away from.
The Syrian Bride is an emotional, authentic and often humorous drama defying all borders,
whether physical or mental.
The Syrian Bride (an Israel-France-Germany co-production directed by Eran Riklis) won
the Prix du Public at the Locarno Film Festival in 2004. That same year it picked up
four more awards at the Montreal Film Festival - the Grand Prix des Amériques,
the Ecumenical Jury Prize, the FIPRESCI Prize (international film critics) and the Air
Canada People's Choice Award.
From and more: www.syrianbride.com/english.html
Listen to commentary:
The Ritchie Boy
Special event with Dr. Guy Stern, one of the "Ritchie Boys"
Directed by Christian Bauer
English and German w/English sub-titles
Black & White
Dr. Guy Stern, Professor of German and Slavic languages at Wayne State University in Michigan
and one of the Ritchie Boys featured in the film, will speak with the audience and answer
questions following the movie.
They were young. The world's most unlikely soldiers. As teenagers they had escaped
the Nazis. They trained in intelligence work and psycho-logical warfare, and returned to
Europe as US soldiers - with the greatest motivation to fight this war: They were Jewish.
They called themselves "The Ritchie Boys".
Christian Bauer´s film "The Ritchie Boys" tells a story that's
never been told before. It begins in Camp Ritchie, Maryland, the birthplace of modern psychological
warfare, and it ends with the defeat of Germany in May of 1945. After D-Day the Ritchie
Boys became a decisive force in the war. Nobody knew the enemy, his culture and his language
better than they. Their mission: ascertain and break the enemy's morale.
The surviving Ritchie Boys are in their eighties now. They never met for reunions, they
did not join veteran associations. When the war was over, their German accents and unusual
histories did not make them welcome in the usual veterans circles. In the end, the Ritchie
Boys quietly left the war behind them and went on to enjoy quite remarkable careers - in
arts and politics, in business and academia. They never forgot the war. They just never
spoke about it.
© TANGRAM 2004
More at website : http://www.ritchieboys.com/
Ushpizin (Aramaic for Guests)
Directed by Gidi Dar
Hebrew w/English sub-titles
Jerusalem. Moshe and Mali, a poor childless Orthodox couple, find themselves penniless
on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Succoth.
As they both pray desperately to the Lord to help them, the impossible happens. Their prayers
are heard and they receive an unexpected charitable donation. However, a miracle doesn't
come without a test, as two escaped convicts appear uninvited on the couple's doorstep,
friends from Moshe's shady secular past. Moshe and Mali believe it is another sign
and that God will bless them with children if they follow the religious custom of receiving
guests for the holy day. They perceive the convicts as messengers, but God works in mysterious
The outrageous behavior of these unholy messengers and the havoc it brings to the Orthodox
community will put Moshe and Mali's faith to the ultimate test.
Link to: http://www.ushpizin.com/
Directed By Paul Fischer
Yiddish with English subtitles
Paul Fischer makes his directorial debut with the touching narrative short The Kiss. This
Yiddish-language film tells the story of a young girl who seeks a kiss from her father
who is too preoccupied with his religion to notice her. Prior to shooting The Kiss, filmmaker
Paul Fischer's career included eight years in New York's film and television
production industry, including work on such projects as "CSI: NY" and "Sex
and the City." He currently has a feature script in development.
The Rashevski's Tango
Directed by Sam Garbarski
French with English sub-titles
Black & White
Family matriarch Rosa Rashevski believed that a tango was as good as chicken soup and
better than organized religion. Her death at age 81 sets off identity crises and soul
searchings among three generations of Rashevskis. Like many modern Jewish families, the
Rashevskis are a mélange: Shoah survivors; Reform, Orthodox, and nonobservant Jews;
a Gentile daughter-in-law; and a grandson who served in the Israeli Defense Force and
is in love with a Muslim Arab. A sophisticated, witty, and affectionate exploration of
modern European Jewish identity, The Rashevski's Tango is an impressive feature debut
by director Sam Garbarski.
OY! IT'S A BOY!
Directed by Lenny Epstein
English, color Beta SP, 9 minutes
An intermarried couple – one Jewish, one Catholic – and their families,
welcome a baby boy into the fold with hilarious results.
Behind Enemy Lines
Directed by Dov Gil-Har
English/Hebrew/Arabic with English sub-titles
Black & White
Adnan Joulani, a Palestinian journalist, and Benny Herness, an Israeli police officer,
met on a joint peace mission to Japan. They returned home just as the second
Intifada erupted. Nearly four years later, the former friends meet again and
take a journey through the landscape of the conflict. The two men travel together
to places of their own choosing – a Jenin refugee camp, the Yad Vashem Holocaust
Memorial, and the Temple Mount – that symbolize the roots of the Palestinian-Israeli
conflict. Along the way, Adnan informs Benny that a settler killed his cousin.
Benny, who trains special Israeli forces to combat Palestinian militants, is himself
a settler. Even as the men promote their versions of the truth, they begin to see
the conflict through each other's eyes.
Directed by Dov Gil-Har
Hebrew with English Subtitles
On the tenth anniversary of the Israeli-Jordanian peace accord, Israeli filmmaker
Dov Gil-Har (director of Behind Enemy Lines) reveals the story behind the secret
negotiations which lead to the historic treaty. "Shalom Jordan" unveils
the covert talks between Jordan's King Hussein and Israeli leaders since the
early 1960's and their culmination in the historic accord sealed in 1994 on
the banks of the Jordan river. Exclusive interviews with three former heads of the
Mossad, a Prime Minister, statesmen, negotiators, experts and journalists reconstruct
for the first time, the clandestine, fascinating and dramatic quest for peace.
The Forgotten Refugees
Directed by The David Project & IsraTV
Executive Producer Ralph Avi Goldwasser
English/Hebrew/Arabic with English sub-titles
Color/Black & White
A film about the one million Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries and Iran.
Buried beneath the headlines of the Middle East conflict is the forgotten story
of the region's indigenous Jewish communities. In 1945, one million Jews
lived in the Middle East and North Africa outside of the Palestine Mandate. Within
a few years, only a few thousand remained.
The Forgotten Refugees explores the history and destruction of Middle Eastern
Jewish communities, some of which had existed for over 2,500 years. It chronicles
the impact of the Arab Muslim conquest, the development of Judeo-Arab culture,
and the rise of Arab nationalism that drove out hundreds of thousands of Jews
from their homes and communities. This destruction is a significant loss for the
Jewish people and for the Middle East and North Africa
Featuring testimony from Jews who fled Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Yemen, These personal
stories of refugees are interspersed with dramatic archival footage, including
rescue missions of Yemenite and Iraqi Jews.
The film represents a unique approach to educating the public about an integral
but little known and mostly ignored aspect of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Forgotten Refugees is Co-sponsored with JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle
East and North Africa, www.jimena.org.
Directed by Ferzan Ospetek
Italian with English sub-titles
This lush and complex film, a recipient of numerous Italian cinematic awards,
explores the lives of a thirty-something Italian couple whose marriage is slowly
dissolving within the confines of their cramped apartment. Seeking, perhaps subconsciously,
a replacement for the affection that she does not receive from her husband, the
wife begins to spy upon an attractive male neighbor, whom she watches surreptitiously
from one of her windows that faces his apartment in the same building. This nightly
vigil, which begins fortuitously, develops into an obsession. When her husband
takes in a disoriented and elderly Jewish man whom he found on the street, their
life as a couple becomes further complicated. After the wife befriends the elderly
man, he reveals to her, after having regained his memory, secrets of his own life,
including his passion for a subject they share and, through vivid flashbacks,
unexpected details of his life. As a result of these varied experiences, her life
is changed forever.
Until Tomorrow Comes
Directed by David Deri
Producer: Eran Riklis
Hebrew with English sub-titles
A dramatic and crucial week in the life of Lillian Almakayes and her Moroccan family.
Lillian, an owner of a beauty salon in a southern Israeli town, has to cope with
the deteriorating mental health of her mother who lives with her, with the marital
crisis of her daughter and with an unexpected courtship threatening her glorious
Lillian, a determined headstrong woman, deals with all these issues even when
a strong opponent faces her – reality.
Starring mother and daughter actresses:
Remond Abeksiss and Yael Abeksiss
Chronicle of a Jerusalem Courtyard
From The Sam Spiegel Film & TV School Collection, Jerusalem
Hebrew with English sub-titles
Nestled unobtrusively in the Nachlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem is a quiet and
walled 19th century courtyard whose privacy and solitude is shared by people of
many backgrounds and religions, among them Arab Muslims, Arab Christians, and a
woman dancer from Germany. Through the intimacy of the dancer's diary, the
secrets of daily life within the courtyard, which are regulated by rules that exist
only within its confines, are revealed. Alas, however, the very existence of the
courtyard is threatened with the relentless pace of modernity, which here takes
the form of a scheduled demolition, and this imperils continuation of the unique
lifestyle that its inhabitants share with one another.
Mixed Blessings: The Challenges
of Raising Children in a Jewish-Christian Family
Directed by Jennifer Kaplan
BetaSP, 57 minutes
There are over one million Jewish-Christian interfaith couples
in the United States. As the four couples featured in Jennifer Kaplan's documentary clearly demonstrate,
partners who do not discuss their religious differences and how they plan to raise
their children early in the relationship may be greatly surprised by the intense
feelings and the change of heart that the birth of a child evokes. Some of the couples
interviewed are still wrestling with these issues. The documentary, however, never
loses its balance. The subject may be emotionally charged, especially with each
religion's heavy historical baggage, but Kaplan consistently treats her interviewees
with respect, allowing the unfolding of what is essentially a lifelong process
for the individual and the family.
My Brother's Wedding
Directed by Dan Akiba
BetaSP, 36 min
When Boston director Daniel Akiba's brother Jonah traveled to Israel, his
mother's parting words to her son were, "Have a good time, but whatever
you do, don't become Orthodox." Three months later he called his mother
and said, "The Torah is the word of G-d." This award-winning film documents
the family's trip to Israel in 2001 to attend Jonah's wedding and explores
how his embrace of Orthodox Judaism has affected them all.
Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and
Directed by Daniel Anker
Digital Beta, 92 minutes
America's response to the impending menace represented by Nazi Germany, which
culminated in not only the Second World War but also the Holocaust, is a source not
only of shame but also, at the same time, pride. The response of Hollywood studios,
which carefully sought to both shape and reflect the tastes of mainstream America,
was no different. This monumental documentary, which is narrated by Gene Hackman
and features interviews with many luminaries of the film industry (among them, Steven
Spielberg, Sidney Lumet, Rod Steiger, and Neal Gabler) explores the manner in which,
over the last seven decades but especially during the period of Nazi rule, Hollywood
films depicted the Nazis. During the early years, Hollywood films often depicted
them as banal and bothersome bigots, but only after America's entry into the
Second World War were they depicted as the monsters whom they truly were. This balanced
documentary features a treasure-trove of historical and feature-film footage.
Underwritten by Harvey Belsky Charitable Foundation
Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi
Directed by Shemi Zarchin
Hebrew w/English sub-titles
Teen Screen Event
This touching and sensitive film explores the daily challenges faced by Shlomi,
a sixteen-year-old, whose self-appointed role is to keep peace within his dysfunctional
family, and to take care of everyone's needs. He is sensitive and attentive
to every one of his famliy members. But no one in the family really sees Shlomi,
and neither does Shlomi see himself.
Things change, however, when his teacher and school principal recognize his brilliance,
which had been previously undetected. With their help and the help of Rona, a
neighbor, with whom Shlomi is secretly in love, he is sent to a school for gifted
children, where he finally discovers himself.
Not Rated, some adult language and nudity.
This film was selected to the 2005 Teen Screen by a committee of Jewish educators,
parents and youth group members
A Journey of Spirit
Directed by Ann Coppel
A Journey of Spirit is a documentary that tells the story of the remarkable singer,
songwriter and guitarist Debbie Friedman. One of the preeminent women in contemporary
Jewish culture, Debbie has integrated contemporary melody with Jewish liturgy to
transform Jewish sacred music, making the text accessible to a large and diverse
audience. A Journey of Spirit explores the tremendous power this artist and leader
has to promote spirituality, healing, and community.
This 75-minute documentary explores the transformation of liberal Jewish worship,
the growth of the new profession of Jewish singer/songwriter, and humanity's
need for healing. Viewers are treated to a lively and heartfelt exchange as A Journey
of Spirit places the debate about contemporary versus traditional prayer music squarely
on the table.
A Journey of Spirit won 1ST PRIZE AWARD for the BEST NEW JEWISH FILM at the Detroit
Jewish Film Festival.
A Journey of Spirit won BEST FILM award at the NCJW Film Festival.
Link to: http://www.ajourneyofspirit.com/