2 0 0 6 F e s t i v a l

The Jews of Iran

Directed by Ramin Farahani
The Netherlands, 2005
color, 52 min.
English, Hebrew, and Farsi with English subtitles

In light of the Iranian government’s relentless hostility toward Israel and its proxy war, through Hezbollah against the Jewish state, this well-directed and tightly-edited film now has an especially foreboding nature. The movie portrays the lives of Iran’s remaining Jews. They acknowledge the existence of discrimination, go out of their way to portray their devotion to Iran and, perhaps understandably, avoid criticizing its government. This is an inside look at an otherwise hidden but previously vibrant culture.


Directed by Avi Nesher
Israel, 2005
color, 46 min.
Hebrew with subtitles English

The cultural differences between Israelis and Arabs must be factored into virtually every discussion, at every level. To emphasize this point, the film cross-cuts the interaction of a Jewish Israeli belly dancer and the Israeli Arab musical group with which she is performing, with interviews with high-profile Palestinian and Israeli participants in the Camp David negotiations. You will hear the inside story on why those discussions ultimately failed.

Live and Become

Directed by Radu Mihaileanu
France/Israel, 2004
French, Hebrew, Amharic with English subtitles
color, 140 min.

In a Sudanese refugee camp sheltering Ethiopians displaced by civil war and famine in 1984, the Israeli secret service has begun Operation Moses, airlifting thousands of Falashas, or Ethiopian Jews, to Israel. Ethiopia is in chaos and times are precarious for its small but ancient Jewish community. A Jewish woman offers to take an Ethiopian Christian boy with her, after her son dies. The Christian mother, knowing that she likely will never see her son again, admonishes him to "go, live and become." After the Jewish woman dies shortly after arriving in Israel, the boy, now known as "Shlomo," is alone in a strange land. He realizes that he must conceal his identity as a Christian and make a transformation into Israeli society.

Radu Mihaileanu, the renowned creator of "Train of Life," addresses in "Live and Become" the profound issues of survival and preservation of identity, as well as the redemptive power of love.

Audience Award for best film—2005 Berlin International Film Festival. Recipient of the Golden Swan (Best Film) and Best Screenplay awards, Copenhagen International Film Festival (2005) and the Jury Prize for Best Film, Valenciennes Film Festival (2005).

Underwritten by Gloria and Ken Levy

Hats of Jerusalem

Directed by Nati Adler
Israel, 2005, Hebrew, Greek, Arabic, Amharic with English subtitles
color, 50 min.

Jerusalem is home to peoples of differing faiths and cultural origins. In a city where more heads seem to be more covered than not, a person’s hat or other head covering serves to identify not only one’s faith but culture and origin as well. This film explores, in an entertaining manner, those head coverings, such as those worn by Arabs, by Greek and Armenian clergy, and the myriad hats worn by members of Hassidic communities and other ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Underwritten by Pearl and Leonard Rosenthal

Yiddish Aroma

Directed by Leonid Horovits
Israel, 2004
Hebrew, Yiddish with English subtitles
color, 52 min.

With a strong desire to preserve a language and culture in decline, a Yiddish theatre troupe in Tel Aviv prepares for a première. The troupe’s performers and technicians are magically drawn to Yiddish culture. Some are life-long Yiddish speakers, other non-Yiddish-speaking Israelis, and still others grew up in Yiddish-speaking homes. We see that, in a departure from the past, Yiddish is now received favorably in Israel not only by older people but by the youth as well.

Underwritten by Pearl and Leonard Rosenthal

Melting Siberia

Directed by Ido HaarIsrael,
2004, Russian, Hebrew with English subtitles
color, 74 min.

The lives of most elderly citizens of the former Soviet Union were disrupted by numerous and repeated tragedies, including civil war, the Second World War, and famine. No group has suffered more than have its Jews. In this film, a middle-aged Israeli woman, whose elderly mother also lives in Israel, tracks down her father, a Jewish man who had been an officer in the Red Army and shamelessly abandoned her and her mother shortly after her birth. It’s a story personal to the young Israeli director who coaxes his mother to go back to find the man she left behind.

Press material – "Melting Siberia", Theatrical Release, Israel.

Yehuda Stav - "Yedioth Aharonot" Newspaper, 28.01.05 ****

Ido Haar’s new film is an additional proof that a documentary film is as capable of unfolding a deeply moving story as the best of melodramas. Furthermore, "Melting Siberia" shows that reality has more dramatic impact than any soap opera scenario. When it succeeds in sifting the right materials from reality, when it is shot and edited intelligently, when it is wisely and thoughtfully directed, a documentary piece can rouse the same excitement and exhilaration is us as the great feature films do.

Gidi Orsher – "Gale Tzahal", Radio Station, 2.2.05 ****

Gentle, touching movie.

Uri Kline - "Ha'aretz" Newspaper, 3.2.2005

That Ido Haar, the director of the documentary film "Melting Siberia", has the eye of a true documentarist, is evident in the way he examines his surroundings and the people populating them. All through the film he strikes the right balance between the central dramatic narrative and the transient marginal images that embellish it. The result is an intelligent, honest, and a very touching film… a beautiful and deeply moving documentary.

Yossi Shoval - "Ma'ariv" newspaper, 21.01.05

The thrilling "Melting Siberia" is a roller coaster of laughter and tears that has captivated the audience.

…the film turns into an emotionally breathtaking merry-go-around, that takes you by the throat and hits you straight in the stomach. Through its captivating protagonists, "Melting Siberia" becomes greater than life - a film about morality, love, and family.

Yaniv Halfon - "Walla" Website, 24.01.05

…entrancing dialogues and thrilling Chekhovian scenes. The view is snowy yet the happenings are smoldering hot. The breath steams in the freezing air, yet the conversations burn with emotion.

A Green Chariot

Directed by Gilad Goldschmidt
Israel, 2005
Russian, Hebrew with English subtitles
color, 47 min.

This topical drama explores with sensitivity the burning question of "who is a Jew." A young Soviet immigrant, who has become observant and is engaged to an observant sabra, faces a moral crisis and test of the strength of his faith when he discovers that he may not be Jewish based on the rigorous standards of Orthodox Judaism. This film suggests that this issue may be resolvable in a manner that would be acceptable to all concerned.

Go for Zucker (Alles auf Zucker)

Directed by Dani Levy
Germany, 2004, German with English subtitles,
color, 95 min Feature

This outrageously comedic film, immensely popular in Germany, dares, after many decades, to depict Jews as people who face the same challenges as other Germans. In fact, Paul Spiegel, President of the Central Committee of Jews in Germany, was quoted as saying this movie "helps to bring Jews and non-Jews back on track to normality." Two Jewish brothers in Germany have not spoken for over forty years. One is thoroughly dissolute, and the other is highly observant. The brothers are forced to reconcile, in some manner, if they are to share in an inheritance from their recently departed mother. Winner of six Golden Lolas (German Film Academy) and Ernst Lubitsch Award for Best German Comedy (2005). This is the first German-Jewish comedy since World War II, created by the producers of "Run Lola Run" and "Goodbye Lenin." Get ready to laugh!

Underwritten by Dr. Susan Gould

Beethoven’s Hair

Directed by Larry Weinstein
Canada, 2005
German, Danish, with English subtitles
color, 82 min.

Ludwig van Beethoven lived and died as a tormented genius, whose contribution to civilization will surely last forever. Within minutes after Beethoven died in Vienna, Ferdinand Hiller, a Jewish music student who later became a famous musician in his own right, surreptitiously clipped a lock from the master’s hair. The lock of hair seemingly vanished from history. This film, which combines elements of high drama, intrigue, and modern technology, explains how that lock of hair mysteriously reappeared on an auctioneer’s block at Sotheby’s in Denmark and how its authenticity was confirmed through the most sophisticated of scientific procedures. This lock of hair now resides permanently at the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies (http://www.sjsu.edu/depts/beethoven/brilliant/brilliant.html) at San Jose State University, where it may be seen by all, two months of the year.

Note: After the film, plan to stay for a discussion with Larry Weinstein of Toronto, the film’s director, and Russell Martin, of Colorado, the author of the book by the same name.

Land of the Settlers

Directed by Chaim Yavin
Israel, 2005
Hebrew with English subtitles
color, 90 min.

Famed Israeli television anchor Chaim Yavin, who believes that Israeli occupation engenders Arab hatred and thwarts peace, traveled extensively throughout the Occupied Territories to interview settlers and local Palestinians. These interviews, together with those with Israeli advocates of withdrawal, are insightful and provocative, guaranteed to be thought-provoking.

Fateless (Sortsalanság)

Directed by Lajos Koltai
Hungary, Germany, UK, 2005
Hungarian, German with English subtitles
color/B&W, 140 min.
Recommended for adult audience

It is Hungary in 1944, and a teen-ager from a middle class Budapest family is caught in a police round-up of Jews. Sent to a series of Nazi camps he is completely separated from his family, and exposed to unimaginable horrors. Nonetheless he manages to survive. Realistic and grim at times, it depicts an indomitable will to survive. After his release, he somehow relinquishes his bitterness and vows to continue with his life. This mature and existential film is based upon the semi-autobiographical novel by Hungarian Jewish author Imre Kertész, who recently received the Nobel Prize for Literature and, incidentally, adapted his novel for this film. Nominated European Film Award: Best Cinematographer, Gyula Pados; Best Composer, Ennio Morricone; Official selection: Berlin Film Festival 2005, Teluride Film Festival 2005, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

Gloomy Sunday

Directed by Rolf Schubel
Germany, 1999
German with English subtitles
color, 114 min.

Best of the Best

The San Jose Jewish Film Festival offered this film, one of the most popular ever shown at the Festival, in 2003. We are offering it as a "Best of the Best", in case you missed it or have been waiting to see it again! It plays in theater # 10 on November 5, at 5:30 p.m.

This highly-charged dramatic romance told in flash backs beautifully conjures both an intensely personal and political tale. Budapest, 1930s: Lazlo, a Jewish restaurant owner, hires pianist Andras to play in his restaurant. Both men fall in love with the beautiful waitress Ilona who inspires Andras to create his successful but dangeroous composition, Gloomy Sunday an actual hit-song of the early 1930's. The fragile balance of their erotic menage-a-trois spirals out of control when a German freshman Hans (Ben Becker, The Harmonists) falls in love with Ilona as well. Hans later returns as an SS officer offering Jews passage out of Hungary in exchange for money. (Sexual situations, nudity)

The First Time I Turned Twenty
(La Première Fois Que J’ai Eu 20 Vingt Ans)

Directed by Lorraine Levy
France, 2005
French with English subtitles
color, 90 min.

A talented ensemble cast gives life to this charming coming-of-age story set in France in the 1960s. A plain, 16-year-old Jewish girl, misunderstood by her loving but dysfunctional family, is determined to become a member of her school’s renowned jazz band, which has never had either a Jew or a girl. Once in the band, she encounters obstacles that test the full measure of her indomitable spirit. This uplifting and piquant film captures the essence of a simpler time, but one where the challenges of adolescence were as great as they remain today.

Underwritten by Robert and Kennon Hudson

Sister Rose’s Passion

Directed by Oren Jacoby
USA, 2004
color, 39 min.

Listen to what the late Sister Rose E. Thiering, an amazing Catholic nun, says about Mel Gibson’s "Passion of the Christ." in the movie about her life’s passion, the battle against anti-Semitism in the Church. This Wisconsin-born Dominican nun, who passed away a few months ago, pressured the Roman Catholic Church to repudiate its teachings that all Jews bore collective responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus. Eventually, in 1965, at the urging of Pope John Paul XXIII, the Vatican ecumenical council known as "Vatican II" clearly and unequivocally absolved the Jews of this long-standing accusation of guilt and in doing so, they quoted from Sister Rose’s writings. You will hear from Catholic theologians about anti-Semitism in the Church, and Sister Rose’s positive influence.

Underwritten by Gloria and Ken Levy

Holocaust Tourist

Directed by Jes Benstock
UK, 2005
color/B&W, 10 min.
Language: English
Short documentary

A "tourist trade" has grown up in Poland at both the ghetto in Kraków and at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. This film highlights the ironic juxtaposition between the death camp facilities at Auschwitz-Birkenau and the nearby hot dog stands that cater to tourists.

Underwritten by Gloria and Ken Levy

After movie, there was a discussion with Monsignor Eugene Boyle who has worked diligently since 1963 on Catholic-Jewish interfaith relations, and Rabbi Aaron Schonbrun of Congregation Beth David in Saratoga. The discussion will be moderated by Bart Charlow of the Silicon Valley Conference for Community and Justice. The sponsors of this exciting event are The Catholic Diocese of San Jose, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Silicon Valley, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Silicon Valley Conference for Community and Justice.

The King’s Daughter

Israel Broadcasting Authority-Original Production
Directed by Sari Makover-Belikov, Ora Maymon-Pilewski
Israel, 2005
Hebrew, Yiddish with English subtitles
color, 58 min.

General visitors to Mea Shearim, an ultra-orthodox section of Jerusalem, usually do not go behind the doors to truly understand what life is like for the people who live there. "The King’s Daughter" highlights the events leading to the wedding of the granddaughter of the Rabbi of Vizhnitz, and by doing so, provides a glimpse into the day-to-day lives of four Mea Shearim Hassidic women. You will love the grand wedding at the end!

Underwritten by Eli Reinhard

Like a Fish Out of Water

Directed by Leonid Prudovsky
Israel, 2006
Hebrew, Spanish with English subtitles
color, 50 min.

In this amusing and well-paced Israeli comedy, a secular Argentine-born immigrant in Israel falls in love with his religiously traditional ulpan teacher. Her parents believe him to be a marine biologist. What they don’t know is that he is a former Argentine television soap opera star who now works in a service station. Lots of twists and turns with a smile!

Underwritten by Eli Reinhard

The Journey of Vaan Nguyen

Directed by Duki Dror
Israel, 2005
Hebrew, Vietnamese (with English subtitles)
color/B&W, 56 min.

What is it like to be a foreigner in a strange land? "The Journey of Vaan Nguyen" explores the universal refugee experience, confronting issues of separation, alienation, and yearning. A Vietnamese family flees the chaos of their country in the 1970’s, and joins fellow Vietnamese refugees in Israel, at the invitation of Menachem Begin. Their children are born there, grow up in Israel speaking Hebrew as their first language, and the older daughter--like most Israeli youth--joins the Israeli army. More than 30 years after their arrival in Israel, they travel back to Vietnam, a country very different from the one they left. The question they try to answer is "should they stay"?

Sponsored by the Consulate General of Israel

Question/answer session after movie with Duki Dror, the producer/director, as well as a representative of the San Jose Vietnamese community.

Children’s House

Directed by Tamar Feingold
Israel, 2005
Hebrew with English subtitles
color, 52 min.

In the earliest days of the State of Israel, children in a kibbutz spent most of their earliest years in a communal "children’s house" rather than with their parents. In this film, artists who grew up in a kibbutz organize an exhibit that emphasizes the sterile and emotionally deficient childhood that they experienced in the children’s house of their kibbutz. This is a stimulating film that analyzes an aspect of the parent-child relationship that has profoundly affected the lives of many, if not most, Israelis who spent their formative years on kibbutzim. Another view, albeit potentially controversial, of life on the kibbbutz.

The Kibbutz

Directed by Racheli Schwartz
Israel, 2005
Hebrew with English subtitles
color/B&W, 52 min.

The kibbutz movement was, for many years, the pride of Israeli society and epitomized the reclamation of land that had lain barren for centuries. The vibrancy of that movement, however, has changed in recent years as more kibbutzim have fallen on hard times and seemingly lost their relevance in the fabric of Israeli society. This documentary focuses on that decline. The youth of this particular kibbutz have left for the cities and its dining hall and children’s house are shuttered, leaving old and disillusioned kibbutzniks with memories of a vibrant past. Those who remain do not, unfortunately, understand why the concept that they loved has vanished. This film attempts to answer that question.

Out of Sight

Directed by Daniel Syrkin
Israel, 2005
Hebrew with English subtitles
color, 86 min.
For mature audience

Two young Israeli girls, cousins of one another, are best friends from their earliest years. After they are grown, one of them kills herself, seemingly for no reason. The other friend, who has been blind from birth, is able to process facts that the sighted persons around her cannot, and she works to understand why her best friend took her own life. This intense and riveting story, the ending of which will startle you, reveals a dark secret in the dead girl’s family. Mature themes not suitable for children. Israeli Academy Award in 2005 for Best Director to Daniel Syrkin for "Out of Sight."

Isn’t This a Time

Directed by Jim Brown
US, 2004
color/B&W, 90 min.

In the early 1950s, folk music became the conscience of America, and Harold Leventhal, who began his career as a song plugger for Irving Berlin and before that a union organizer, was largely responsible for making that voice heard throughout the country. Over the years, he managed the most famous of folk music groups and singers, including the Weavers, Peter Paul & Mary, and Joan Baez. In this fascinating film, which was made the year before he died in 2005, the surviving Weavers, Peter Paul & Mary, Leon Bibb, Arlo Guthrie, and Theodor Bikel gather at Carnegie Hall in a musical tribute to their mentor and friend. This delightful film chronicles the panorama of folk music in America and will enthrall any audience, regardless of its age.

Silicon Valley Jewish Film Festival * www.svjff.org