2 0 0 5 F e s t i v a l

Yidl Mitn Fidl (Yidl and His Fidl)

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
USA, 2004
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, Eva Herzigova

For more info. http://www.modiglianithemovie.com/

Underwritten by Gloria and Ken Levy

Metallic Blues

Directed by Dan Verete
Canada/Germany/Israel, 2004
English/Hebrew/German with English sub-titles
90 minutes

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


Personal Goals

From Sam Spiegel Film & TV School Collection
Directed by Dan Carmeli
Writers: Dan Carmeli, Eitan Anner
Israel, 1996
Hebrew w/English subtitles
16 minutes

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 Jacob

Directed by Gerard Oury
French w/ English sub-titles
100 minutes

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
Israel, 2004
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
Germany/Canada, 2004
English and German w/English sub-titles
Black & White
93 minutes

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
Israel, 2004
Hebrew w/English sub-titles
90 minutes

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 ways.
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/

The Kiss

Directed By Paul Fischer
USA, 2003
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
Belgium/France/Luxembourg, 2003
French with English sub-titles
Black & White
97 minutes

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.


Directed by Lenny Epstein
Canada, 2004
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
Israel, 2004
English/Hebrew/Arabic with English sub-titles
Black & White
64 minutes

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.

Shalom Jordan

Directed by Dov Gil-Har
Israel, 2004
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
USA, 2004
English/Hebrew/Arabic with English sub-titles
Color/Black & White
57 minutes

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.

Facing Windows

Directed by Ferzan Ospetek
Italy/UK/Turkey/Portugal, 2003
Italian with English sub-titles
106 minutes

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
Israel, 2004
Hebrew with English sub-titles
65 minutes

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 solitude widowhood.
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
Israel, 2003
Hebrew with English sub-titles
28 minutes

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
USA, 2004
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
USA, 2003
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 the Holocaust

Directed by Daniel Anker
USA, 2004
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
ISRAEL, 2003
Hebrew w/English sub-titles
94 minutes

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
USA, 2004
75 minutes

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/

Silicon Valley Jewish Film Festival * www.svjff.org