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2003 NYJFF Program CalendarShare

Twelfth Annual New York Jewish Film Festival
January 12-23, 2003

This year's selections - from Australia to France, Israel to Texas - reflected a pervasive drive to define and understand issues of modern Jewish identity. Exciting new voices in world cinema made their mark, among them Israeli directors Lina and Slava Chaplin, whose A Trumpet in the Wadi creates a heartwrenching portrait of the impact of politics on love. French romances and forgotten gems of bittersweet Yiddish melodrama, humorous family epics and documentary investigations - taken as a whole, this year's festival underscored the magnificent diversity of the global Jewish community as expressed through film.

For more information:
Call The Jewish Museum at 212.423.3338 or visit The Film Society of Lincoln Center at or call 212.875.5600.

Click here for the 2003 Print Source List.

Atlantic Drift
Director: Michel Daeron
US PREMIERE (Austria/France, 2001, 88 min. 35 mm, German, English and Hebrew with English subtitles)

The harrowing tale of 2,000 Jewish refugees who packed into the ship Atlantic to escape Vienna during WWII, then spent three months wandering across the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, only to end up in Mauritius.
Smouldering Cigarette
Director: Peter Basco
NY PREMIERE (Hungary, 2001, 120 min., 35mm, Hungarian with English subtitles)

Budapest in 1942 was an uneasy island of relative calm in the midst of World War II. Living by his wits, an impoverished Jewish songwriter survives the ensuing German occupation by composing hit songs for tempestuous diva Katalin Kardy. Veteran Hungarian filmmaker Peter Basco directs this tale of survivor luck with his customary irony and period verve.
Secret Lives: Hidden Children and Their Rescuers During WWII
Director: Aviva Slesin
(USA, 2002, 72 min., 35 mm)

Before the Second World War, more than one and a half million Jewish children were living in Europe. By the war's end, fewer than one out of ten had survived. This is the story of a number of these children who were saved from the Nazis by non-Jews who hid them in their homes despite great personal danger. This deeply moving documentary explores the complex relationships between these children and their rescuers with the insight of the director who was herself a hidden child.
Director: Alberto Negrin
US PREMIERE (Italy, 2002, 126 min., video, Italian with English subtitles)

This drama portrays Giorgio Perlasca's selfless courage in saving more then 5,000 Hungarian Jews during WWII. Perlasca becomes consumed by a sense of humanitarian duty after witnessing the persecution of Jews in Budapest. Passing himself off as a Spanish Counsul, he tricks the Nazis in a series of ingenious capers.
Hitler's Hat
Director: Jeff Krulik
WORLD PREMIERE (USA, 2002, 50 min., video)

Richard Marowitz, a Jewish American G.I., was present at the search of Hitler's Munich apartment in April 1945. Finding a black top hat, Marowitz flew into a rage, stomping on the hat and then donning it in an imitation of Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator. That same day, Hitler committed suicide in his bunker. Documentarian Jeff Krulik (Obsessed with Jews, NYJFF, 2001) follows Marowitz to a reunion of his division.
preceded by
Sid at 90
Director: Howard Weinberg
WORLD PREMIERE (USA, 2002, 27 min., video)

Actor-comedian Sid Raymond's professional exploits range from vaudeville impersonations to radio comedy, cartoon voices, live television drama, feature films, summer stock and Broadway. Celebrate Sid at 90!
Director: Emmanuel Finkiel
NY PREMIERE (France, 2001, 87 min., video, Hebrew and Yiddish with English subtitles)

An incredible portrait of a generation of European Jews, Casting is a humorous and heart-warming collage of audition tapes from actors who responded to an ad for "Yiddish speakers, 60-90 yrs. old" for the director's previous film, Madame Jacques sur la Croisette.
followed by
Madame Jacques sur la Croisette
Director: Emmanuel Finkiel
(France, 1995, 38 min., 35 mm, French and Yiddish with English subtitles)

This portrait of elderly Jews on their annual springtime retreat in Cannes won the Cesar, France's Academy Award, for best short narrative. As old friends reflect on aging, love and the bond of Yiddish culture, a romance blooms in their midst.
La Guerre Paris
Director: Yolande Zauberman
US PREMIERE (France, 2002, 82 min., 35 mm, French with English subtitles)

In this stirring drama set in the French capital during WWII, Ana Maria, Jules, and Thomas are participants in a romantic triangle whose many facets come to light in the harsh glare of the German occupation.
Director: Frans Weisz
(Netherlands, 1989, 90 min., 35 mm, Dutch with English subtitles)

In this forerunner to Weisz' film Qui Vive, we view the marriage of Lea and Nico - the second for both - hidden with Christians as children during World War II. It is 1972 and the wedding celebrations is both enriched and marred by scars and memories.
Choosing Exile
Director: Marc Radomsky
US PREMIERE (Australia, 2002, 55 min., video)

An intense portrait of the pain of emigration, documenting the filmmaker's decision to uproot his wife and young son from their life in South Africa and move to Australia. The film examines the pervasive fear of violent crime among the white community in the post-Apartheid nation that prompted one family to leave.
preceded by
Shmatte Mazel
Director: Lesley Sharon Rosenthal
US PREMIERE (Australia, 2000, 10 min., video)

This fanciful documentary traces the legacy of the Australian shmatte (garment) industry. New Yorkers will especially enjoy the familiarity of the subject, but with and Aussie twist!
Director: Eliezer Shapiro
US PREMIERE (Israel, 2001, 21 min., video, Hebrew with English subtitles)

A beautifully conceived drama about a young girl from a religious family in search of her own identity. Eicha longs to break free of the roles that others, both secular and religious, imagine she should embody.
Nowhere in Africa
Director: Caroline Link
(Germany, 2002, 141 min., 35 mm, German with English subtitles)

The story of one young family's narrow escape from Nazi Germany and resettlement on a farm in Kenya. While five-year-old Regina quickly becomes intoxicated by the magic of life in their new home, her parents struggle to cope with poverty and isolation. Nowhere in Africa powerfully conveys both the pain of separation and the possibility of reinvention.
Qui Vive
Director: Frans Weisz
(Netherlands, 2001, 92 min., 35 mm, Dutch with English subtitles)

This elegant sequel to director Frans Weisz's Polonaise centers on Nico and Lea, the couple whose wedding the first film portrayed. Taking up their story 12 years later and remarkably reuniting the cast from Polonaise, Qui Vive is a vibrant, poignant, fast-paced and often hilarious tale of family dynamics.

A Trumpet in the Wadi
Director: Lina and Slava Chaplin
(Israel, 2001, 86 min., 35 mm, Hebrew with English subtitles)
Alex and Huda are lovers and outsiders in Israeli society - Alex is a new immigrant from Russia and Huda an Arab woman from Haifa. She works in a Jewish travel agency and reads Hebrew poetry; he plays the trumpet marvelously. An impossible love story that can be described as a Middle Eastern nod to Romeo and Juliet.

preceded by
Festival Under War
Director: Yaron Shane
US PREMIERE (Israel, 2002, 17 min., video, Hebrew with English subtitles)

This documentary about the 2001 Jerusalem Film Festival provides an illuminating view of life in today's conflict-torn Israel and raises questions about the role of art and film in such times.
Director: Robert Schindel and Lukas Stepanik
NY PREMIERE (Austria, 2002, 115 min., 35 mm, German and Yiddish with English subtitles)

Gebirtig, adapted from an acclaimed Austrian novel, expertly mingles the stories of an Austrian Holocaust survivor living in New York, a German journalist whose father was a Nazi, and a Jewish actor from Vienna. Delving into the complex memories of each of these characters, this sophisticated film offers a fiercely intelligent perspective on how the past remains a vital force in defining the present.
preceded by
Silent Song
Director: Elida Schogt
NY PREMIERE (Canada, 2002, 6 min., video)

From the director of Zyklon Portrait (NYJFF 2001) and The Walnut Tree (NYJFF 2002), a short poetic documentary based on footage of a young boy playing the accordion during the pandemonium of the liberation of Dachau. An evocative contemplation on the ephemeral nature of life, images and the past.
The Joel Files
Director: Beate Thalberg
US PREMIERE (Austria, 2001, 60 min., video, English and German with English subtitles)

This is the history of the family of rock legend Billy Joel - their escape from Nazi Germany and Austria and their return to discover the past. Billy Joel's grandfather's company was "aryanized" in 1938 and became a great success under the new owner. The bitter entanglement of the two families and the third generation's eventual attempt at reconciliation form the basis of this powerful film.
preceded by
A System for Writing Thank You Notes
Director: Neil Goldberg
(USA, 2001, 9 min., video)

In an uncomfortably humorous "interview," Goldberg's widowed father reveals his method for responding to condolence cards received after his wife's death.
Shalom Y'all
Director: Brian Bain
NY PREMIERE (USA, 2002, 60 min., video)

An engrossing exploration of the lives of Jews in the American South in which the filmmaker embarks on a journey from Texas to Tennessee, travelling the same roads his 100-year-old grandfather did as a hat salesman. Along the way he discovers a vibrant, Jewish culture - peopled by cowboys and congressman, kosher butchers and hoop-skirted tour guides.
preceded by
Bertha Alyce
Director: Gay Block
NY PREMIERE (USA, 2001, 24 min., video)

Video interviews and still photographs chronicle the tempestuous relationship the director shared with her unusual and difficult mother. Engaging, poignant and often funny, this portrait is unflinchingly honest.
Epstein's Night
Director: Urs Eggers
(Germany, 2001, 85 min., 35mm, German with English subtitles)

A haunting yet beautiful drama about three concentration camp survivors in Berlin who discover that their former tormentor is the officiating priest at a local church. A gripping tale of friendship and betrayal, guilt and forgiveness, with a shocking denouement. Featuring noted actor Bruno Ganz, star of Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire.
Je Me Souviens (I Remember)
Director: Eric R. Scott
US PREMIERE (Canada, 2002, 47 min., video, English and French with English subtitles)

This documentary investigates the memory of fascism and anti-Semitism in Quebec during the 1930s and 40s. Reminiscent of Michael Verhoeven's The Nasty Girl, it creates a vivid and chilling portrait of a subject that this traditionally been forbidden territory for Canadian academics.
preceded by
My Dear Clara
Director: Garry Beitel
NY PREMIERE (Canada, 2001, 44 min., video)

Interweaving love letters, family photos, official correspondence and archival footage, this extraordinary moving documentary tells the story of the struggle for survival of a Polish Jewish refugee, as his Canadian wife battles to change her government's immigration policies.
Directors: Amos Gitai
US PREMIERE (Israel, 2002, 100 min., 35 mm, Hebrew, Russian and Yiddish with English subtitles)

May 7, 1948: With the British about to end their mandate and the creation of the state of Israel at hand, violence rages between the Jewish and Arab communities. A European cargo freighter packed with concentration camp survivors heads toward Palestine; as underground Jewish forces prepare for its arrival and British soldiers position themselves to stop its unauthorized landing, the narrative charges forward toward an explosive - and surprising - climax.
In conjunction with The Jewish Museum's exhibition Entertaining America: Jews, Movies, and Broadcasting on view February 21 to September 14, 2003.

Rediscovering Max Davidson
Nearly forgotten today, hirsute, hapless Max Davidson (1875 - 1950) brought a particular brand of Eastern European "Jewish luck" to American slapstick. Davidson was extremely popular in the late 1920s when he starred in a number of shorts at the Hal Roach Studio. Ethnic stereotypes are evident in these films, buy so are agile antics and inspired comedy. Live piano accompaniment. Introduction by film critic J. Hoberman.

Why Girls Say No
Director: Leo McCarey (USA, 1927, 21 min., 16mm, silent)

Call of the Cuckoo
Director: Clyde Bruckman (USA, 1927, 18 min., 16mm, silent)

Pass the Gravy
Directors: Fred Guiol and Leo McCarey (USA, 1928, 22 min., 16mm

Jewish Prudence
Director: Leo McCarey (USA, 1927, 20 min., 16mm, silent)

Molly: The Goldbergs
Director: Walter Hart (USA, 1950, 83 min., 16mm)

A portrayal of the daily hardships and small triumphs of a working class Jewish family from the Bronx - based on the long-running, warmhearted radio and TV series, The Goldbergs. The film is a touching artifact of American Jewish life.

Motl the Operator
Director: Joseph Seiden
(USA, 1939, 89 min., 35mm, Yiddish with English subtitles)

A bittersweet melodrama in the finest tradition of Yiddish theater, this 1939 tale of a labor dispute in New York's garment district and its tragic consequences for one young family is a vital document of the Jewish immigrant experience. Motl features performances by some of the best known Yiddish actors of the day, including Yetta Zwerling.

This international festival was 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 State Council on the Arts, a State Agency, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Mimi and Barry Alperin, The Consulate General of Israel, The Canadian Consulate General, New York and other funders.

Additional support was been provided by The Andrea & Charles Bronfman Philanthropies.

Festival Committee
This festival was organized by a committee consisting of Rachel Chanoff, Chair, Film Festival Selection Committee; J. Hoberman, Senior Film Critic, The Village Voice; Richard Pela, Program Director, The Film Society of Lincoln Center; Mohini Sara Shapero, Film Festival Coordinator; and Aviva Weintraub, Director of Media and Public Programs, The Jewish Museum.

The Israel Office of Cultural Affairs in the USA; Janis Plotkin, Samuel Ball - San Francisco JFF; Miriam Morsel Nathan, Josh Speiser - Washington JFF; Sara Rubin, Kaj Wilson - Boston JFF; Susan Alper - Montreal JFF; Frederic-Gerard Kaczek - Vienna JFF; Sharon Rivo, Mimi Krant - National Center for Jewish Film; Jessica Rosner - Kino International; Donnell Library Media Center of The New York Public Library; Olli Chanoff, Lori Cearley

Plan Your Visit

The Jewish Museum - 5th Avenue
1109 5th Ave at 92nd St
New York NY 10128



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