The 2005 NY Jewish Film Festival
January 12 - 27, 2005
The Jewish Museum and The Film Society of Lincoln Center invite you to experience an international celebration of cinematic creativity. At the New York Jewish Film Festival(NYJFF), you can attend a world premiere - or enjoy a classic dating back more than 60 years. You can take pleasure in the work of a well-known director - or introduce yourself to an emerging talent. You can see the renaissance in Israeli filmmaking, or watch American documentary makers portraying cherished family rituals. You can be among the first film fans to see high-quality cinematic works - like last year's Hiding and Seeing: Faith and Tolerance After the Holocaust; Almost Peaceful; Alila; and James' Journey to Jerusalem - that went on to popular commercial release. It's all about modern Jewish identity, at once serious and playful, reflective, and full of joy. So join us as we take a 15-day cinematic trip to, among other places, Paris, Buenos Aires, Tel Aviv, Uzbekistan, and Central Park.
The Man Who Loved Haugesund
Directors: Jon Haukeland & Tore Vollan
NY PREMIERE (Norway, 2003, 59m)
Topping the Nazi's most wanted list when Germany invaded Norway in 1940 was Moritz Rabinowitz, a Polish clothier in the small Norwegian town of Haugesund. Against all odds, he built several hugely successful clothing stores that became the bedrock of Haugesund's business community. He also became an admirably outspoken critic of Hitler's regime. The story of his own town's response to his tragic fate offers a deeply unsettling portrait of entrenched anti-Semitism.
Permission to Remember
Director: Yael Kipper Zaretzky
US PREMIERE (Israel, 2003, 60m)
A man's claim to have saved the lives of 50 Jews during WWII is called into question in this controversial investigation. A coalition of Ukrainian Holocaust survivors, who doubt the veracity of the man's claim, seek to have rescinded the honorable "Righteous Among The Nations" title he has been given. Mounting evidence and testimony from both sides raise the stakes in this engrossing search for truth, accountability, and closure.
Film as a Subversive Art: Amos Vogel and Cinema 16
Director: Paul Cronin
(U.K., 2003, 56m)
The father of American art-house cinema and a founder of the New York Film Festival, Amos Vogel is one of the great intellectual mavericks of film history. He first brought independent programming to New York with his underground film club, Cinema 16, where he introduced audiences to directors like John Cassavetes and Roman Polanski, and to documentary and avant-garde films from around the world. This absorbing documentary focuses on Vogel's Cinema 16 days, when he shocked censors and delighted audiences with his controversial picks.
Director: Agnès Varda
(France, 1958, 17m)
Recognized worldwide as the mother of the French New Wave, filmmaker Agnès Varda found a friend, exhibitor, and distributor in Amos Vogel. Vogel's film society, Cinema 16, provided a rare opportunity for American audiences to see Varda's films - which continue to delight fans today. L'OPÉRA-MOUFFE captures the heightened mood of Varda's pregnancy and hauntingly weaving images of young lovers with scenes from the rue Mouffetarde vegetable market into what Varda terms "neighborhood cinema."
Director: Elliott Malkin
WORLD PREMIERE (U.S., 2004, 4m)
Dressed in their 1970s best, the filmmaker's parents, grandparents, and extended family circle the dining room table, witnesses to a momentous occasion. Deftly integrating Jewish tradition, nostalgia, and humor, MY BRIS is a wonderfully personal example of an American Jewish family's self-documentation.
Lost Embrace / El Abrazo Partido
Director: Daniel Burman
NY PREMIERE (Argentina, 2004, 99m)
Handsome slacker Ariel works in his mother's lingerie shop in a Buenos Aires shopping mall. Their friends and neighbors make up a colorful, bustling community of Latin American, European, Asian, and Jewish immigrants, each with a singular story and a shop full of goods for sale. The discovery of deep family secrets inspires Ariel to reexamine his strong immigrant roots and his relationship with his Polish songstress grandmother, his seductive older mistress, and his long-absentee father. From the director of Waiting for the Messiah (NYJFF 2002).
Director: Yaron Zilberman
NY PREMIERE (France/Israel/U.S., 2004, 90m)
The bathing beauties featured in Watermarks' rare archival footage were among the finest swimmers of the 1930s. They were members of a famed Viennese sports club formed as a Jewish response to strictly segregated Austrian sports. Forced to officially disband following Nazi Germany's 1938 annexation of Austria, the club continued to work in secret to find its members safe passage abroad. This documentary introduces the spirited women of Hakoah, now in their eighties, as they return to the site of their youthful triumphs.
Tomorrow We Move / Demain on démènage
Director: Chantal Akerman
NY PREMIERE (France, 2003, 112m)
From celebrated director Chantal Akerman comes a new comedy crammed with erotic literature, half-completed piano scales, and above all, boxes. When Charlotte takes her widowed mother into her apartment, the ensuing clutter drives her to distraction. Her solution is to relocate - but the flood of apartment buyers who descend only makes the place more crowded. As Charlotte pursues her desperate, slapstick quest for peace, Tomorrow We Move develops into a slyly Jewish tale of rootlessness, familial burdens, unavoidable but unachievable writing assignments, and the occasional black cloud.
Director: Savi Gabizon
NY PREMIERE (Israel, 2003, 110m)
14-year-old Nadav is overwhelmed by his crush on Nina, his enchanting, newly widowed aunt. In his secret journal, he struggles to reconcile his feelings about his estranged father's fatal illness, his best friend's sexual adventures, and the jealousy he feels because of Nina's new flame. Joyful, heartbreaking and uproariously funny, NINA'S TRAGEDIES is one of the most celebrated recent Israeli films. Winner of 11 Israeli Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.
Waiting for Woody Allen
Director: Michael Rainin
(U.S., 2004, 15m)
In this clever reimagining of Samuel Beckett's classic play Waiting for Godot, two Hasidic men sit on a bench in Central Park discussing religion, therapy, and relationships. They are waiting, of course, for Woody Allen to arrive and give meaning to their lives. Waiting for Woody Allen is at once tragic, comic, and oddly faithful to the spirit of Beckett's seminal work.
Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust
Director: Daniel Anker
(U.S., 2004, 92m)
Imaginary Witness chronicles the American film industry's response to the horrors of Nazi Germany. This fascinating documentary pairs footage from landmark Hollywood films - including The Mortal Storm, The Great Dictator, The Diary of Anne Frank, and Schindler's List - with first-hand accounts by filmmakers and actors including Steven Spielberg, Sidney Lumet, and Gene Hackman. A unique chronicle of Hollywood's cinematic reaction to the rise and fall of the Nazis, IMAGINARY WITNESS examines politically charged American films that range from the shockingly complicit to the radically subversive.
Director: Sidney Lumet
(U.S., 1964, 116m)
Almost 20 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, the U.S. produced its first major feature to dramatize the experience of a Holocaust survivor. Made independently in New York by Sidney Lumet, THE PAWNBROKER moves with hallucinatory freedom between its title character's perceptions of 1960s Spanish Harlem and his memories of the death camps. THE PAWNBROKER features a career-defining performance by Rod Steiger, and Boris Kaufman's extraordinary cinematography. The NYJFF presents this rare theatrical screening to accompany its documentary selection, IMAGINARY WITNESS: HOLLYWOOD AND THE HOLOCAUST.
The Mortal Storm
Director: Frank Borzage
(U.S., 1940, 100m)
At a time when few American filmmakers dared address the Nazi threat-as documented by the NYJFF selection Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust - MGM created a rare exception and an enduringly moving film, THE MORTAL STORM. James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan star as decent citizens of a quiet Alpine town who watch in horror as their neighbors are corrupted by the Nazis. Exquisitely directed by Frank Borzage, The Mortal Storm remains a powerful drama about intolerance, but one that never speaks aloud the word "Jew."
The Nuclear Physicist Gives His Son a Haircut
Director: Hanan Harchol
(U.S., 2003, 6m)
The Nuclear Physicist Sings to the Seventies
Director: Hanan Harchol
(U.S., 2002, 4m)
Life isn't easy when your father, a nuclear physicist, is in love with his own version of logic, his own madcap anecdotes, and his own lilting voice. Dad treats his son to a haircut, to a lesson on sexual politics, and to a family road trip. Viewers will be charmed by Harchol's impersonations, hysterical dialogue, and pen and ink style - which has the sensitivity and expressiveness of a masterful woodcut.
Red Diaper Baby
Director: Doug Pray
NY PREMIERE (U.S., 2004, 90m)
What is the minimum required "minyan" to form a hootenanny? Josh Kornbluth, the ultimate red diaper baby (child of communists), learned early on to personalize the revolution. When his father sang, "Arise ye prisoner of starvation" to him every morning, he knew it was time for breakfast! This film version of Kornbluth's hilarious yet poignant one-man show includes his clear-eyed accounts of his unusual childhood, his high-school trip to the Soviet Union, and his first love. Contains strong language.
Behind Enemy Lines
Director: Dov Gil-Har
(Israel, 2004, 64m)
A weeklong journey through the heart of the Intifada-torn land with an Israeli policeman and a Palestinian journalist who struck up a friendship on a peace mission in Japan four years earlier. Each selects locations in an attempt to convince the other of his own truth and to search for insights into the origins of the conflict. This fascinating documentary focuses on the men's passionate claims to their side's legitimacy.
From Language to Language
Director: Nurith Aviv
US PREMIERE (France/Israel/Belgium, 2004, 55m)
Renowned director/cinematographer Nurith Aviv (Loss, NYJFF 2004) turns her lens on the significance of language in this serene, meditative documentary. An impressive series of internationally born Israeli artists, musicians, and writers speak of the relationship between Hebrew and the language of their childhood, a language whose music still echoes to them even if it is no longer spoken. In the words of Aharon Appelfeld, "You don't speak a mother tongue, it flows out of you."
Letters from Riskikesh
Director: Daniel Wachsmann
US PREMIERE (Israel, 2004, 80m)
A Russian-born Israeli father seeks to find his estranged daughter, who is in India searching for enlightenment. This visually rich mystery tale takes us on a journey to locales in India, including a dance school and the set of a Bollywood musical spectacular. Letters from Rishikesh is a compelling feature film from acclaimed Israeli director Wachsmann (Menelik, NYJFF 2000).
Director: Elliott Malkin
(U.S., 2004, 6m)
Like a living photo album, FAMILY MOVIE's snapshots of the filmmaker's traditional family rituals capture a loving intimacy that somehow eschews sentimentality. Experimental New York filmmaker Elliott Malkin offers an unusual and arresting piece that weaves together current and archival family footage into a subtle portrait that is at once universally familiar, yet strikingly distinct.
Another Road Home
Director: Danae Elon
(U.S., 2004, 77m)
Immensely personal, this documentary follows the filmmaker's attempt to find Mus, the Palestinian man her parents hired to help raise their daughter. Elon's determined search takes her from Manhattan to Patterson, New Jersey, and finally to the West Bank. Along the way, she documents painfully honest confrontations with her caretaker's now-grown Palestinian children as well as with her father, renowned Israeli author Amos Elon. This film bravely illuminates unspoken boundaries of politics, class, and family relationships.
Director: Maurice Schwartz
WORLD PREMIERE OF DIGITALLY RESTORED CLASSIC (U.S., 1939, 96m)
Maurice Schwartz's adaptation of the classic Sholem Aleichem tale centers on a young Jewish woman who falls in love and marries a Ukrainian intellectual, testing her father's deep-seated faith and love for his daughter. Tension threads through the film: between parental authority and paternal love, between tradition and change, and between peaceful daily life and counterrevolutionary upheaval. Schwartz, a renowned Yiddish theatre and stage actor, invites viewers to a microcosm of Russian Jewry at the turn of the century.
Director: Gulya Mirzoeva
(Tadjikistan, 1991, 30m)
Hauntingly lyrical, Shabat treats the audience to rare, shifting scenes of provincial Jewish life in Soviet Uzbekistan. Jewish holidays and life-cycle rituals are interspersed with evocative images, such as a bicyclist on a winter street. Impressionistic and ethereal in tone, Shabat is imbued with a sense of place as masterful as many of the world's strongest cinematic landscapes.
Under Strange Skies
Director: Daniel Blaufuks
(Portugal, 2002, 57m)
Artists and intellectuals on the run from the Nazi regime during WWII found an escape route, a safe haven, and in some cases, an unlikely home in Lisbon, Portugal. The result was a fleeting burst of cultural life in this beautiful city. The incomparable Bruno Ganz narrates this measured, meticulously pieced quilt of engrossing historic photographs and footage. The Lisbon memoirs of some of the most prominent intellectuals of the day, including Heinrich Mann (The Blue Angel), round out the tale of an exiled family amid a sea of fugitives.
Rachel, quand du Seigneur
Director: Sidney Lumet
NY PREMIERE(U.S. 2004, 13m)
Acclaimed director Sidney Lumet (Twelve Angry Men, The Pawnbroker) directs this short film of the hauntingly beautiful aria Rachel, quand du Seigneur, from Fromental Halévy's once-banned opera, La Juive. Celebrated tenor Neil Shicoff gives a masterful performance in the role of Eléazar. Filmed on location in a former synagogue on the Lower East Side, this powerful film is a transformative exploration of intolerance and fanaticism.
Rene and I
Director: Gina M. Angelone
WORLD PREMIERE (U.S., 2004, 73m)
A remarkable story of triumph and the resilience of the human spirit, this courageous documentary introduces fraternal twins Rene and Irene, who improbably survived experimentation by Nazi doctors at Auschwitz. Separated after liberation, then reunited years later in the U.S., Rene and Irene speak frankly about their experiences and their hopes for the future.
Director: Sam Ball
WORLD PREMIERE (U.S., 2004, 30m)
This inspired documentary recounts the WWII adventure of a young Jewish mother who escaped the Nazis to join the French Resistance. Understatedly eloquent, 92-year-old Andrée "Poumy" Moreuil reflects on how the very act of resisting oppression transcends isolation and fear. Beautiful contemporary footage, interwoven with arresting period photographs, conveys the struggle and mysterious exhilaration of the wartime years. From the director of Pleasures of Urban Decay (NYJFF 2000).
You Will Never Understand This
Director: Anja Salomonowitz
US PREMIERE (Austria, 2003, 52m)
Personal narratives of three elder women in the filmmaker's Austrian family offer starkly different visions of the Nazi era. One is an Auschwitz survivor, another a socialist, the third a tacit. Subtle yet unflinching confrontation and questioning by a new generation of women build an enthralling, visually elegant documentary.
Director: Paul Morrison
(U.K./Germany, 2003, 102m)
David, the 11-year-old son of Polish refugee parents in 1960s England, loves everything about cricket. But he is "wondrously oblivious" to his lack of playing skill and the prejudices of his anti-Semitic neighborhood. A Jamaican family moves in next door, and the father (Delroy Lindo) teaches David to play. However, their unorthodox friendship pushes racial tension in their working-class London community to the breaking point. Here's the drama of Billy Elliot and the feel-good laughs of Bend It Like Beckham, with a Jewish twist!
This international festival is made possible by generous support from The Martin and Doris Payson Charitable Foundation, The Liman Foundation, The Jack and Pearl Resnick Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Mimi and Barry Alperin, The Israel Office of Cultural Affairs in the USA, and other funders.
Selection Committee: Rachel Chanoff, independent curator, chair, film festival selection committee; Stuart Klawans, film critic, The Nation; Richard Peña, program director, The Film Society of Lincoln Center; Aviva Weintraub, director of media and public programs, The Jewish Museum; and Livia Bloom, film festival coordinator, The Jewish Museum.
Acknowledgments: Susan Alper, Montreal Jewish Film Festival; Michael Chaiken, International House, Philadelphia; Olli Chanoff, Lori Cearley, The Office; Josh Ford, Danette Wolpert, Washington Jewish Film Festival; Nicola Galliner, Berlin Jewish Film Festival; Werner Hanak, Jewish Museum, Vienna; Aviva Kempner; Ralph McKay, Cinematexas; Sharon Rivo, Mimi Krant, National Center for Jewish Film; Sara L. Rubin, Kaj Wilson, Boston Jewish Film Festival; Peter L. Stein, Nancy Fishman, San Francisco Jewish Film Festival; Lia van Leer, Jerusalem Film Festival; Alla Verlotsky, Seagull Films; Amos Vogel; Film Society of Lincoln Center staff; Jewish Museum staff; Makor staff.