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2004 NYJFF Program CalendarShare

The Thirteenth Annual New York Jewish Film Festival
January 14 - 29, 2004

This year's selections offered a pluralistic vision of modern Jewish identity as they spoke to our ongoing need to investigate, record and, above all, celebrate the Jewish experience. Films like Black Israel testify to a culture of diversity and inclusion. Others, like Shalom Ireland, reveal a people existing as past of, rather than apart from, the global community. Works by Argentinians, Swedes and Lower East Siders - from documentary to historical drama to lighthearted romantic satire - made up an eclectic cross-section of contemporary Jewish filmmaking.

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Call The Jewish Museum at 212.423.3338 or visit The Film Society of Lincoln Center at www.filmlinc.com or call 212.875.5600.

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Almost Peaceful

Director: Michel Deville
NY PREMIERE (France, 2002, 94 min., 35mm, French with English subtitles)

This beautifully constructed drama explores the Jewish experience among Holocaust survivors in postwar France. As a tailor revives his business by hiring mostly Jewish workers, a series of sub-plots illuminates their struggles to re-establish the quotidian aspects life, along with larger issues of love and guilt. Prolific director Michel Deville (La Lectrice) brings deft touches of gentle humor to this ultimately hopeful film.
preceded by

A Good Uplift
Directors: Faye Lederman, Cheryl Furjanic, Eve Lederman
NY PREMIERE (USA, 2003, 13 min, video)
In a Lower East Side lingerie shop, ownder Magda presides over an endless procession of women of all shapes and cup sizes, races and religions in search of the perfect brassiere and a dose of old-fashioned self-esteem.





Black Israel
Director: Maurice Dores

NY PREMIERE (France, 2003, 85 min., video, English, French, and Hebrew with English subtitles)
Documenting communities of sub-Saharan African, African American and Caribbean Jews from Israel to Paris to Harlem, this engaging
film presents an enlightening vision of the pluralistic nature of modern Jewish identity.



Hiding and Seeking: Faith and Tolerance After the Holocaust
Directors: Menachem Daum and Oren
Rudavsky
WORLD PREMIERE (USA, 2003, 87 min., video, English, Yiddish and Polish with English subtitles)
An Orthodox man ventures to Poland with
his two sons in an attempt to expand their narrow worldview in this surprising and
thoughtful documentary. The visit, in which the young men encounter the family that
hid their grandfather 60 years earlier, explores the many faces of prejudice,
tolerance and redemption. By the directors of A Life Apart: Hasidism in America (NYJFF 1997).
Preceded by

Untitled 2 (The Last Jew of Edenbridge)
Director: Solomon Nagler
US PREMIERE (Canada, 2003, 5 min., video)

A lyrical portrait of the last member of a Jewish farming colony in rural Canada who guards the precious relics of an idealistic past.



Samy and I

Director: Eduardo Milewicz
NY PREMIERE (Argentina, 2002, 85 min., 35mm, Spanish with English subtitles)
Talented director Eduardo Milewicz brings to mind Woody Allen and Pedro Almod�var as he paints a lush and vivid picture of cosmopolitan Buenos Aires in this cleverly endearing romantic comedy. The film stars Argentinian sensation Ricardo Darin as a nebbishy writer whose life gets a much needed shot of adrenaline when a dazzling young woman transforms him into an unlikely television star.



Have You Heard About the Panthers?
Director: Nissim Mossek
NY PREMIERE (Israel, 2002, 109 min., video, Hebrew with English subtitles)

Thirty years ago, a novice filmmaker named Nissim Mossek set out to document the
Israeli political protest movement called the Black Panthers - young Mizrahi and
Sephardi men who fought to expose racial and class bias in Israel. The film mysteriously disappeared, but a copy recently turned up in Jerusalem. Combining pieces of the first film and new footage of the surviving members, Have You Heard About the Panthers? throws light on schisms in Israeli society that inflamed protest in the 1970s and persist today.

When Grandpa Loved
Rita Hayworth

Director: Iva Svarcova
NY PREMIERE (Germany, 2000, 90 min., 35mm, Czech and German with English subtitles)
It is 1969, the first winter after the Prague Spring. As three astronauts fly to the moon, 13-year-old Hannah and her family land in the West German economic wonderland. Hannah herself would be happiest returning to her grandfather, portrayed by the late great Vlastimil Brodsky (Closely Watched Trains). A darkly humorous story of post-Communist adolescence.



A Vilna Legend
Director: Zygmund Turkow 1924/George Roland 1933
NY PREMIERE of restored print (Poland,
1924/1933, 60 min., B&W, 35mm, Yiddish with English subtitles)
This is a rare screen gem: a 1924 silent film embedded within a 1933 Yiddish talkie. The
cast reads like a "who's who" of the Yiddish stage and includes Ester-Rokhl Kaminska and her daughter Ida Kaminska, as well as Joseph Buloff as the sharp-witted narrator and commentator. A tale of frustrated love and destiny, mostly filmed on location in Vilna, this is a precursor to the 1937 classic The Dybbuk.

Preceded by

Cantor on Trial
Director: Sidney M. Goldin
WORLD PREMIERE of restored print (USA, 1931, 10 min., B&W, 35mm, Yiddish with English subtitles)
In this classic Yiddish spoof, a synagogue committee searches for a chazan (cantor) for the High Holiday services. Rejecting one unsuitable candidate after another, they are finally confronted with a modern chazan promising "pep and jazz." Hilarity, as they say, ensues.




Moments-Israel
Directors: Dina Zvi Riklis, Eliav Lilti, Shlomit Altman, Oded Davidoff, Gur Bentvitch, Nir Miterraso, Thaer Zoabi, Anat Even, Eyal Zaid, Uri Bar-On, Amos Gitai, Tsipi Houri, Rafi Bukaee, David Perlov, Idan Alterman, Nira Sherman, Sausan Quoud, Uri Barbash, Ariella Azouly, Eyal Halfon
NY PREMIERE (Israel, 2002, 56 min., video, Hebrew, Arabic, and Russian with English subtitles)

This entrancing collection of 17 three-minute films addresses a wide range of issues in an even wider range of styles, with many of Israel's most talented filmmakers contributing to the collage. Produced in part by The Jerusalem Film Festival.

Preceded by

The School Photo
Director: Gabriella Bier
US PREMIERE (Sweden, 2002, 37 min., video, Swedish with English subtitles)

The nightmare of being 12, flat-chested and a dork at the Jewish school in Stockholm in the 1970s.




Kafka Goes To The Movies
Director: Hanns Zischler
US PREMIERE (France/Germany, 2002, 54 min., video)

Franz Kafka was an avid movie-goer who very early on recognized the power of motion pictures as an art form. In this illuminating documentary, acclaimed German actor Hanns Zischler traces Kafka's love of cinema through journals and clips from films Kafka viewed.

Preceded by

Dziga and His Brothers
Director: Yevgeni Tsymbal
US PREMIERE (Russia, 2002, 52 min., video; Russian with English subtitles)

The fascinating and tumultuous lives of three brothers who made cinema history - Moisey
(Mikhail), Boris and David Kaufman (aka Dziga Vertov), best-known for the still-revered "cinematic poem," Man With a Movie Camera- are the focus of this documentary. Using rare archival footage from Russian state film archives and private collections, the brothers' lives are traced from Bialystock to Moscow, Paris and Hollywood.




Caravan 841
Director: Zion Rubin
(Israel, 2001, 52 min., video, Hebrew with English subtitles)

Moshe, an 11 year-old Ethiopian boy, languishes in a decrepit trailer park in the Western
Galilee waiting for his mother to arrive. An older Torah scholar and a free-thinking
African American jazz musician befriend Moshe, offering him two very different visions of personal salvation.

Preceded by

The Unshod Man
Director: Laurence Attali
US PREMIERE (France/Senegal, 2003, 32 min., 35 mm, French with English subtitles)

An allegory with biblical undertones, romantic tension and a great sense of fun, this video features the extraordinary Senegalese musician
Cheikh L�, who stars as a bandleader named Booz. When Booz's trumpet player
dies one night on stage, Esther, the man's passionate and adamant Israeli widow, insists that Booz marry her immediately.



The Commandment Keepers
Director: Marlaine Glicksman
WORK IN PROGRESS (USA, 2004, 60 min., video)

A sneak preview of a fascinating documentary about the Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation, an African American synagogue founded in 1919 in Harlem. The community is recognized but not necessarily embraced by rabbinical authorities; its members struggle to hang on to their faith and identity despite the obstacles.
The screening of this work in progress will be followed by a panel discussion with the filmmaker and participants from the film.



Purity
Director: Anat Zuria
(Israel, 2002, 63 min., video, Hebrew with English subtitles)

Breaking a taboo of silence rooted equally in 2,000-year-old laws and contemporary social pressures, Purity takes a bold look at female sexuality within the context of Jewish religious life. Director Anat Zuria sensitively confronts a seldom documented purification ritual - women's immersion in a mikveh - and asks the very personal religious and moral questions the ritual raises.

Preceded by

Tikkun
Director: Taliya Finkel
NY PREMIERE (Israel, 2002, 51 min., video, Hebrew with English subtitles)

This portrait of the charismatic Rabbanit Leah Kook, whose fiery religious discourse has earned her a fiercely loyal following in Israel, offers a rare view of the spiritual lives of a community of ultra-orthodox women.



The Birch-Tree Meadow
Director: Marceline Loridan-Ivens
(France/Germany/Poland, 2003, 91 min., 35mm, French with English subtitles)

Anouk Aim�e stars in this melancholy but ultimately uplifting film about an Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor who returns to the camp in an attempt to banish haunting memories of the past. Director Loridan-Ivens, with co-writer Jeanne Moreau, has created a riveting tale from autobiographical material.

Preceded by

Terez�n, 1944
Director: Raquel Stern
(USA/ Czech Republic, 2003, 8 min., 35mm)

A short, evocative drama about children at the concentration camp Terez�n who experience a moment of bittersweet creative freedom through their teacher's small rebellion.



The Barbecue People
Directors: David Ofek and Yossi Madmoni
NY PREMIERE (Israel, 2002, 102 min., 35mm, Hebrew with English subtitles)

Independence Day, Israel, 1988. A Jewish immigrant family from Iraq gathers for a picnic. As the film unfolds, long forgotten secrets about a clandestine affair between lost lovers and
a covered-up murder deep in the past come boiling to the surface. Packed with intrigue - and barbecue - this fast-paced feature will keep you guessing until the last frame.



A Hungarian Passport
Director: Sandra Kogut
(France/Brazil/Hungary, 2001, 72 min., 35mm, English, Hungarian, French and Portuguese with English subtitles)

An indefatigable Brazilian filmmaker in Paris, whose grandparents fled Budapest for Rio in 1937, investigates her Jewish and Hungarian roots in this energetic documentary. Her desire to regain Hungarian nationality - embedded in
the quest for the elusive passport - becomes a provocative meditation on cultural identity.
Preceded by

Loss
Director: Nurit Aviv
US PREMIERE (Germany, 2002, 30 min., video, German with English subtitles)

Provocative Berlin intellectuals discuss the void left in Germany's post-war cultural landscape by the disappearance of the country's Jews. The director, born in Israel to German Jewish parents, gives these conversations a dreamlike quality with images shot from a train window in and around Berlin.


Alila
Director: Amos Gitai
US PREMIERE (Israel/France, 2003, 122 min., 35mm, Hebrew with English subtitles)

A chronicle of the ordinary and not-so-ordinary days of the inhabitants of a rundown Tel Aviv apartment building. The intertwined lives of these disparate characters, including a troubled young woman in an illicit affair, a divorced couple, a Holocaust survivor, and a Filipina housekeeper capture an up-to-the-minute, turbulent and candid view of contemporary Israeli life. The latest dramatic feature from provocative director Amos Gitai (Kadosh, Kippur and Kedma NYJFF 2003).


Rose's Songs
Director: Andor Szil�gyi
US PREMIERE (Hungary/Italy, 2002, 98 min, 35mm, Hungarian with English subtitles)

In the autumn of 1944, with Budapest in the cruel grip of the Arrow Cross, a Jewish opera star sings each night from the high tower of his villa, where he has barricaded himself. His songs inspire hope in a group of Jews hiding in the house - though he never leaves the tower, and they never see his face. A powerful drama based on a true story.



James' Journey to Jerusalem
Director: Ra'anan Alexandrowicz
NY PREMIERE (Israel, 2003, 90 min., 35mm, Hebrew, English and Zulu with English subtitles)

A young Christian man is chosen by his village in Africa to undertake a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but what he finds upon arriving confounds his image of the holy city. Taken directly to prison from the airport as a suspected illegal worker, only to be rescued from deportation by a mysterious benefactor, James' journey becomes a poignant adventure in the shadowy world of Israel's undocumented
laborers - and ultimately raises questions about keeping the faith. By the director of
Martin (NYJFF 2001).



Shalom Ireland
Director: Valerie Lapin Ganley
NY PREMIERE (USA, 2003, 57min., video)

Inspired by the discovery that her greatgrandparents were the first Jewish couple married in Watford, Ireland, the filmmaker explores Ireland's surprising and vibrant Jewish community. Among many fascinating narratives in this documentary is that of Irish Jewish contributions to the founding of both Ireland and Israel.

Preceded by

France Divided
Directors: Barbara P. Barnett and Eileen M. Angelini
NY PREMIERE (USA, 2002, 38 min., video, French with English subtitles)

This complex and compelling portrait of French complicity and resistance during World
War II presents interviews with seven people whose accounts of the period differ dramatically - a Holocaust survivor, three hidden children, two historians (including Serge Klarsfeld) and Resistance leader Lucie Aubrac.



Acknowledgements:
Lia van Leer - Jerusalem Film Festival; Peter L. Stein, Erin Stamos - San Francisco; Jewish Film Festival; Susan Alper - Montreal Jewish Film Festival; Josh Ford, Danette Wolpert - Washington
Jewish Film Festival; Sara Rubin, Kaj Wilson - Boston Jewish Film Festival; Sharon Rivo, Mimi Krant - National Center for Jewish Film; Janis Plotkin; Alla Verlotsky - Seagull Films; Juliane Wanckel - Goethe-Institut NY; Olli Chanoff, Lori Cearley; J. Hoberman - The Village Voice; The Jewish Museum staff; The Film Society of Lincoln Center staff; The Jacob Burns Film Center staff; Makor staff

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, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Helen Bodian and Roger Alcaly, and other funders.

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