NY’S PREEMINENT SHOWCASE FOR WORLD CINEMA EXPLORING THE JEWISH EXPERIENCE
Presented by Film Society of Lincoln Center
and The Jewish Museum, Jan. 9-24
Press screenings on Dec. 17, 18, 19 & 20
NEW YORK, NY (December 11, 2012) – The Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center will present the 22nd annual New York Jewish Film Festival at the Film Society’s Walter Reade Theater, Jan. 9-24, 2013. The festival’s 45 features and shorts from 9 countries - 23 screening in their world, U.S. or New York premieres - provide a diverse global perspective on the Jewish experience. Many film screenings will be followed by filmmakers and special guests in onstage discussions.
The festival opens on Wednesday, January 9, with the New York City premiere of Peter Miller, Will Hechter and Sharyn Felder’s “AKA Doc Pomus,” presenting one of American music’s great untold stories. Paralyzed with polio as a child, Brooklyn-born Jerome Felder reinvented himself as a blues singer, renaming himself Doc Pomus, then emerged as a one of the most brilliant songwriters of the early rock and roll era, writing Save the Last Dance for Me, This Magic Moment, A Teenager in Love, and dozens of other hits. Spearheaded by his daughter Sharyn Felder and packed with incomparable music and rare archival imagery, the film features interviews with Dr. John, Ben E. King, Joan Osborne, Shawn Colvin, Dion, Leiber and Stoller, and B.B. King as well as passages from Pomus’s journals read by his friend Lou Reed. “AKA Doc Pomus” is produced by Will Hechter, Peter Miller and Sharyn Felder; and edited by Amy Linton.
The closing night film, the New York premiere of Margarethe von Trotta’s “Hannah Arendt,” stars acclaimed German actress Barbara Sukowa and covers a tumultuous four-year period in the life of the great philosopher and writer. Following Arendt from New York’s New School, where she taught after escaping from a Nazi detention camp, to Jerusalem, where she covered the trial of Adolf Eichmann for The New Yorker, the film makes stirring drama of the backlash against her writing about the trial and her “banality of evil” theory. The festival also includes the New York premiere of Michael Prazan’s “The Trial of Adolf Eichmann,” featuring detailed accounts of Eichmann’s capture, the drama that ensued in the courtroom and behind the scenes, the worldwide television coverage, and reactions in the media and public discourse around the globe.
Film critic and author J. Hoberman will present a special screening of the classic horror film, “The Black Cat,” directed by the versatile and prolific Edgar G. Ulmer, on January 17. The Czech-born director made films in a wide range of genres, languages, and countries, including four Yiddish talkies in the second half of the 1930s, when living in New York. Set in a striking art deco mansion and starring Béla Lugosi and Boris Karloff, “The Black Cat” includes satanic rituals, human sacrifice, and intrigue. Hoberman, author of Film After Film: Or, What Became of 21st Century Cinema, will also discuss and show clips from other works he considers compelling Jewish horror movies.
The Festival presents An Evening with the Safdie Brothers on January 13. Acclaimed filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie started making films at an early age and formed the collective Red Bucket Films while students at Boston University, eventually winning international recognition for their feature Daddy Longlegs, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. The Safdie Brothers will present and discuss five shorts at 6 pm: “There’s Nothing You Can Do,” “We’re Going to the Zoo,” “The Acquaintances of a Lonely John,” “John’s Gone,” and “Black Balloon.” At 8:15 pm is a screening of “Daddy Longlegs (AKA Get Some Rosemary).” 34-year-old Lenny, with graying frazzled hair and wrapped up in the loneliness and freedom of a semi-directionless, solipsistic life, picks up his kids from school during their yearly two week visit with him. Their time together is a jumble of lawless fun, strange visitors and adventurous excursions from Lenny’s midtown apartment, and leads to the big question about his relationship with them: am I their father, or their friend?
Enlivened by an exciting new score by klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals, Eugen Illés & Victor Janson’s “The Yellow Ticket” tells the story of a young Jewish woman (played by the great Pola Negri) who hides her identity in order to study medicine and is coerced into prostitution to pay the rent. The film addresses ethnic and religious discrimination, human trafficking, and poverty in startlingly progressive terms. Svigals and pianist Marilyn Lerner will provide live accompaniment at the January 10 screening.
A special program on January 20 shines the spotlight on the films of Franciszka Themerson (1907-1988) and Stefan Themerson (1910-1988), perhaps the most influential Polish experimental filmmakers. Their five films, created between 1930 and 1937, rank with the greatest of the European avant-garde and helped to reveal film as a new medium of personal and political expression. Equally noteworthy were two others shot in England during World War II for the Film Unit of the Polish Ministry of Information and Documentation in Exile. Of these seven, only the last three survived the war. This program will feature the three surviving films - “Adventures of a Good Citizen,” “Calling Mr. Smith” and “The Eye and the Ear” - along with remakes of two lost works - “Apteka” (Pharmacy) and “Moment Musical” - produced by Bruce Checefsky, Director, Reinberger Galleries, Cleveland Institute of Art. Checefsky will introduce and discuss the films.
In addition to “AKA Doc Pomus,” a trio of documentaries offers glimpses at the lives of three unique New Yorkers. Clara Kuperberg & Joëlle Oosterlinck’s “The Art of Spiegelman” is an intimate and homey portrait of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and artist Art Spiegelman, revealing him to be as witty, fascinating, and fiercely insightful in person as his extraordinary creative output leads readers to believe. Spiegelman evokes rich childhood memories and reflects on the evolution of his seminal work, Maus, and his development into a key figure in the underground comics movement. Tracie Holder and Karen Thorsen’s “Joe Papp in Five Acts” chronicles the life of this indomitable, dashing, street-wise champion of the arts, who introduced interracial casting to the American stage, brought free Shakespeare to Central Park and Hair and A Chorus Line to Broadway, and nurtured many great playwrights, directors, and actors. Featuring interviews with Papp conducted throughout his life, as well with such stars as Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline, the film explores the issues Papp championed: freedom of expression, democracy in the arts, and the definition of American culture. Neil Barsky’s “Koch” receives its New York City premiere. While 86-year-old former Mayor Ed Koch has been called the “quintessential New Yorker” for his combative, funny, and blunt approach to public life, he is also an intensely private person. This documentary traces Koch’s impact on public life in New York, covering issues at the center of his tenure that still resonate nationwide like race, homelessness, AIDS, and gay rights; and reveals the personal toll of being mayor of a wondrous city. Interviews with Carl McCall, Joyce Purnick, Charles Rangel, Henry Stern, and others are included.
Music plays a large role in “AKA Doc Pomus” and five other Festival films. Brigitte Bertele & Julia Willmann’s “Max Raabe in Israel,” receiving its United States premiere, follows the popular Berlin-based singer Max Raabe and his Palast Orchester, who brought their show Nacht oder Nie (Tonight or Never), a revue of German hits from the 1920s and ‘30s, to Israel. This film captures Raabe and his band’s thoughtful reactions to their emotionally and politically charged adventure, as well as the personal stories of concertgoers of different generations and their relationships to Germany. Fabienne Rousso-Lenoir’s “Cabaret Berlin – The Wild Scene,” receiving its New York premiere, is a mesmerizing and exuberant assemblage of archival film, sound, and visual culture offering a glimpse at Berlin’s Weimar Republic cabaret scene, home to Europe’s most innovative and experimental artists, writers, and musicians. Jewish entertainers played a leading role in the cabarets, and paid a hefty (and early) price for their wit and irreverence. Rousso-Lenoir’s brilliantly conceived film is a tragic and beautiful love letter to a golden age of entertainment. It received the Yad Vashem Director’s Choice Award. In Beni Torati’s “The Ballad of the Weeping Spring,” receiving its New York premiere, Yosef, an Iraqi Jewish musician guilt-ridden over a car accident he caused twenty years ago, learns that a one-time bandmate and close friend is dying. He decides to reunite the group to grant his dying friend’s final wish – a performance of The Weeping Springtime Symphony, a piece the two worked on together but never played - and perhaps to heal his own tortured soul. This riveting, quirky drama combines overtones of old-fashioned Westerns with outstanding Mizrahi music. Gabriel Bibliowicz’s “Let’s Dance!” receiving its New York premiere, explores how Israel’s great dancers and choreographers that have turned the country’s modern dance community into an international success story. Through the works of leading choreographers Ohad Naharin, Rami Be’er, and Yasmeen Godder, the film delves into the exotic and vibrant world of Israeli dance culture, showcasing interviews, spectacular performances, and rich archival material. Roberta Grossman’s “Hava Nagila (The Movie)” receives its New York premiere. “Hava Nagila” has been covered by everyone from Bob Dylan to Elvis and has become a Jewish staple that has transcended its origins. This rollicking film follows the song’s journey from the shtetls of Ukraine through Israel to the Catskills, Greenwich Village, Hollywood, Bollywood, and beyond. The film features interviews with Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis, Glen Campbell, Leonard Nimoy, and Regina Spektor, among others.
A restored version of the archival film, “Kol Nidre,” directed by Joseph Seiden, will receive its United States premiere. A musical melodrama which was surprisingly risqué for its time, “Kol Nidre” is a rousing tearjerker that explores assimilation, cultural identity, family and generational conflict, gender roles, and marital expectations. The restoration and new English subtitles are by the National Center for Jewish Film.
Two documentaries from Israel also receive their New York premieres. In Tamar Tal‘s “Life in Stills,” the 96-year-old widow of photographer Rudi Weissenstein and her grandson embark on a quest to save the Photo House - a Tel Aviv print shop that contained Weissenstein’s life’s work, nearly one million negatives documenting Israel’s foundational moments - and preserve the collection. This moving film documents their story of a fraught journey full of humor and conflict, compassion and chutzpah. Dana Doron and Uriel Sinai’s “Numbered” examines the complex relationships three Auschwitz survivors have with the numbers tattooed on their arms. The ever-optimistic 84-year-old Gita Kalderon (76914), the realistic 84-year old Joka Levi (A11998), and the adventurous 79-year-old Dani Hanoch (B2823) each have their own perspective, and plenty to say about people’s ever-changing attitudes toward their inescapable past as it is writ large on their skin. Hanna Rabinovitz, daughter of prisoner number 64650, adds another perspective to the mix as a member of the next generation who tattoos her father’s number onto her own body. Additional testimonies from 30 survivors help to make the film a riveting showcase of the clash between past and present, name and number, society and its symbols.
Daniel Burman’s “All In” is a romantic comedy about a professional gambler, single father, and Don Juan of the first rank in Buenos Aires. With his luck running at cards and with the ladies, he decides to take the plunge and embark on a new life of freedom - he gets a vasectomy. Just as everything in his life seems to be coming together, his old pre-marriage flame returns after years abroad to turn his life on its head.
Slawomir Grunberg and Tomasz Wisniewski’s “Castaways,” a deeply moving short documentary about the desperate acts of condemned parents to save their children, receives its world premiere. Łapy was one of several stations in occupied Poland on the way to the Nazi death camp of Treblinka. Trains transporting Jews would slow down there and sometimes briefly stop while the tracks were being adjusted. Some parents managed to save small children by throwing them off the train; the last eyewitnesses to this story remember these times. Three animated shorts are also featured: Co Hoedeman’s “55 Socks,” based on a poem by Marie Jacobs that pays tribute to the ingenuity of the Dutch people during a dark period of their history: the Hunger Winter of 1944-45; Jack Feldstein’s “Shards (Brokhshtiker)” a neon animation inspired by a Yiddish poem by Peretz Markish, who was among 13 Yiddish poets and writers murdered by Stalin’s forces in 1952; and Udo Prinsen’s “Audition,” inspired by drawings of Auschwitz prisoners and depicting a young trumpet player trying out for the camp’s orchestra to improve his chances for survival. Michal Lavi’s “Glue,” a romantic modern fairy tale based on a short story by Israeli writer Etgar Keret, and Isabelle Stead’s “Kosher,” about a five-year-old Orthodox Jewish boy who adopts a pig as a pet, round out the shorts in the Festival. “55 Socks,” “Audition,” “Glue,” and “Kosher” are receiving their New York premieres.
This year’s New York Jewish Film Festival was selected by Rachel Chanoff, Independent Curator; Scott Foundas, Associate Director of Programming, Film Society of Lincoln Center; Marcela Goglio, Programming Associate, Film Society of Lincoln Center; and Aviva Weintraub, Associate Curator and Director of The New York Jewish Film Festival, The Jewish Museum; with assistance from Jaron Gandelman, Curatorial Assistant for Media and Film Festival Coordinator, The Jewish Museum.
The New York Jewish Film Festival is supported, in part, through public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; The Liman Foundation; Mimi and Barry Alperin; and the Martin and Doris Payson Fund for Film and Media. Additional support is provided by the Polish Cultural Institute; the Office of Cultural Affairs, Consulate General of Israel in New York; the Netherland-America Foundation; and the French Embassy.
The New York Jewish Film Festival’s screenings will be held at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater, located at 165 West 65th St. between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway.
Single screening tickets for The New York Jewish Film Festival are $13; $9 for students and seniors (62+); and $8 for Film Society and Jewish Museum members. Tickets to the January 13 Safdie Brothers double feature (Shorts & Conversation and Daddy Longlegs) are $20; $14 for Film Society and Jewish Museum members, students and seniors.
Tickets for New York Jewish Film Festival screenings go on sale December 27, 2012 at the Walter Reade Theater Box Office; and online at www.FilmLinc.com. For complete film festival information, visit www.FilmLinc.com, www.TheJewishMuseum.org, or call 212.875.5601.
About The Jewish Museum
Led by Claudia Gould, Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director, The Jewish Museum is one of the world’s preeminent institutions devoted to exploring the intersection of art and Jewish culture from ancient to modern times. Widely admired for its exhibitions and collections that inspire people of all backgrounds, The Jewish Museum organizes a diverse schedule of internationally acclaimed and award-winning temporary exhibitions as well as dynamic and engaging programs for families, adults, and school groups. The Museum was established in 1904, when Judge Mayer Sulzberger donated 26 ceremonial art objects to The Jewish Theological Seminary of America as the core of a museum collection. Today, the Museum maintains a collection of 26,000 objects – paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, archaeological artifacts, ritual objects, and broadcast media. For more information, visit www.TheJewishMuseum.org.
Film Society of Lincoln Center
Under the leadership of Rose Kuo, Executive Director, and Richard Peña, Program Director, the Film Society of Lincoln Center offers the best in international, classic and cutting-edge independent cinema. The Film Society presents two film festivals that attract global attention: the New York Film Festival, which recently celebrated its 50th edition, and New Directors/New Films which, since its founding in 1972, has been produced in collaboration with MoMA. The Film Society also publishes the award-winning Film Comment Magazine, and for over three decades has given an annual award—now named “The Chaplin Award”—to a major figure in world cinema. Past recipients of this award include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, and Tom Hanks. The Film Society presents a year-round calendar of programming, panels, lectures, educational programs and specialty film releases at its Walter Reade Theater and the new state-of-the-art Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center.
The Film Society receives generous, year-round support from Royal Bank of Canada, American Airlines, The New York Times, Stella Artois, WNET New York Public Media, the National Endowment for the Arts and New York State Council on the Arts. For more information, visit www.FilmLinc.com.
FOR MEDIA SPECIFIC INQUIRIES, PLEASE CONTACT:
The Jewish Museum
Anne Scher, Director of Communications
Alex Wittenberg, Communications Coordinator
212.423.3271 - email@example.com
Film Society of Lincoln Center
John Wildman, Senior Publicist, 212.875.5419 - firstname.lastname@example.org
David Ninh, Publicist, 212.875.5423 - email@example.com
The New York Jewish Film Festival, Jan. 9-24, 2013
Press Screening Schedule
Please join us for an advance press screening at The Walter Reade Theater, 165 W 65th St. close to Amsterdam Avenue, take the escalator, elevator or stairs to the upper level.
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, Dec. 17
The Fifth Heaven
Dina Zvi-Riklis | Israel | 2011 | 103m | Hebrew with English subtitles
How to Re-establish a Vodka Empire
Daniel Edelstyn & Hilary Powell | U.K. | 2012 | 75m
Tuesday, Dec. 18
Daniel Burman | Argentina | 2012 | 113m | Spanish with English subtitles
Gabriel Bibliowicz | Israel | 2012 | 52m | Hebrew with English subtitles
Wednesday, Dec. 19
AKA Doc Pomus
Peter Miller, Will Hechter & Sharyn Felder | Canada/U.S. | 2012 | 99m
Thursday, Dec. 20
The Trial Of Adolf Eichmann
Michael Prazan | France | 2011 | 90m | Hebrew, German, English & French with English subtitles