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New York Jewish Film Festival 2012

January 11, 2012 - January 26, 2012

The 21st annual New York Jewish Film Festival, a preeminent showcase for world cinema exploring the Jewish experience, is presented by The Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

2012 NYJFF Trailer


Walter Reade Theater: 165 West 65th Street
Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center: 144 West 65th Street
All screenings are at the Walter Reade Theater unless otherwise noted.

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In Person
Walter Reade Theater Box Office
165 W 65th Street, hours


$13 General Public
$9 Student, Senior & Child
$8 The Jewish Museum & Film Society Members
Israel: 15 film(s)
400 Miles to Freedom400 Miles to Freedom
World Premiere

Avishai Yeganyahu Mekonen & Shari Rothfarb Mekonen | USA/Israel | 2012 | 60m

Categories: Documentary, Israel

Buy Tickets: Wed Jan 11: 3:45pm
Buy Tickets: Wed Jan 18: 6:00pm

In 1984, the Beta Israel—a secluded 2,500-year-old community of observant Jews in the northern Ethiopian mountains—began a secret and dangerous journey of escape. Co-director Avishai Mekonen, then 10 years old, was among them. In this film, he breaks his 20-year silence about the kidnapping he endured as a child in Sudan during his community’s exodus. This life-defining event launches an inquiry into identity, leading him to other African, Asian and Latino Jews in Israel and the U.S.

Watch the trailer

preceded by
Panta RheiPanta Rhei
U.S. Premiere

Amos Holzman | Israel | 2010 | 20m

Categories: Israel, Short Film

A young Israeli has a meltdown during his army exam. A typical teenager, he is an attractive smart aleck with attitude.

A Bottle in the Gaza SeaA Bottle in the Gaza Sea
U.S. Premiere

Thierry Binisti | France | 2010 | 90m

Categories: Drama, Israel

Buy Tickets: Sun Jan 22: 6:00pm
Buy Tickets: Mon Jan 23: 1:00pm

Tal is a 17-year-old Frenchwoman who has settled in Jerusalem with her family. She writes a letter expressing her refusal to accept that only hatred can reign between Israelis and Palestinians. She slips the letter into a bottle, and her brother throws it into the sea near Gaza, where he is carrying out his military service. A few weeks later, Tal receives a response from a mysterious “Gazaman,” a young Palestinian named Naim. This engrossing and hopeful drama starring Hiam Abbas is based on the award-winning novel by Valerie Zenatti.

Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu StoryFollow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story
World Premiere

Jonathan Gruber & Ari Daniel Pinchot | USA | 2012 | 80m

Categories: Documentary, Israel

Buy Tickets: Thu Jan 12: 8:15pm
Buy Tickets: Mon Jan 23: 6:00pm

Jonathan “Yoni” Netanyahu, then a commander in the Israeli army, was killed at the age of 30 leading the 1976 hostage rescue mission at the Entebbe Airport in Uganda. In Follow Me, co-directors Jonathan Gruber (Jewish Soldiers in Blue and Gray, NYJFF 2011) and Ari Daniel Pinchot (Producer, Paper Clips) present a moving portrait of Yoni’s life through his own poetry, prose and letters. Ultimately a portrait of a young country through a young man, the documentary also features fascinating rarely seen footage of the 1967 war and the Entebbe raid itself, as covered by journalism legend Walter Cronkite. An Ari Daniel Pinchot Film.

Incessant Visions: Letters From An ArchitectIncessant Visions: Letters From An Architect
New York Premiere

Duki Dror | Israel | 2011 | 70m

Categories: Documentary, Germany, Israel

Buy Tickets: Tue Jan 24: 6:00pm
Buy Tickets: Wed Jan 25: 1:00pm

A cinematic meditation about architect Erich Mendelsohn, based on his letters and a memoir by his wife Louise. As a young man, he drew sketches on tiny pieces of paper and sent them, from the trenches, to the young cellist waiting for him in Berlin. She believed in his genius and after World War I helped him become the busiest architect in Germany. When she planned to leave him for a communist poet, he built a perfect house for her. When the Nazis came to power, the couple escaped the house and Germany, and he turned his talents to creating buildings in the U.S. and Israel.

Watch the trailer

The Lost Love DiariesThe Lost Love Diaries

Yasmine Novak | Israel | 2011 | 53m

Categories: Documentary, Holocaust, Israel, Romance

Buy Tickets: Mon Jan 16: 3:15pm
Buy Tickets: Wed Jan 18: 8:30pm

On the morning of her wedding day, Ellis receives a package in the mail. It contains a diary kept by the first love of her life, Bernie, during his time underground in World War II. When Bernie did not return, Ellis married another man and moved with him to Palestine. She kept the diary hidden for 65 years until her historian daughter prevailed upon her to read it and try to find out what happened to Bernie. This gripping documentary is a combination detective story and love saga.

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preceded by
Iraq 'n' RollIraq 'n' Roll
New York Premiere

Gili Gaon | Israel | 2011 | 52m

Categories: Documentary, Israel

Popular Israeli rock musician Dudu Tassa embarks on a mission to revive his grandfather’s traditional Iraqi songs by remixing the tunes for contemporary listeners. Salah and his brother Daud al-Kuwaiti were highly acclaimed Jewish musicians in 1930s Iraq. They arrived in Israel in the 1950s and found they were unknown and unappreciated. In this musical documentary, Tassa engages in a labor of love to research and perform his family’s musical past.

Mabul (The Flood)Mabul (The Flood)
New York Premiere
Guy Nattiv | Israel/Canada/France | 2010 | 101m

Categories: Drama, Israel

Buy Tickets: Wed Jan 11: 1:00pm
Buy Tickets: Wed Jan 11: 6:00pm
Buy Tickets: Wed Jan 11: 8:45pm

Everything is complicated in Yoni’s life. He’s almost 13 and smart, but physically underdeveloped. His classmates bully him and his parents barely say a word to each other. As if this weren’t enough, his 17-year-old autistic brother Tomer returns home from an institution right before Yoni’s bar mitzvah. Buried secrets come to light and Yoni’s bar mitzvah Torah portion—Noah and the flood—becomes a metaphor for the family’s fragile and frozen existence. Nominated for six Ophir Awards (Israeli Academy Awards), Mabul features unforgettable performances by Ronit Elkabetz (The Band’s Visit), Tzahi Grad (Eyes Wide Open, NYJFF 2010; Someone to Run With, NYJFF 2008) and Michael Moshonov (Tehilim, NYJFF 2008).

Watch the trailer

preceded by
U.S. Premiere

Natalie Bettelheim & Sharon Michaeli | Israel | 2011 | 7m

Categories: Animation, Israel, Short Film

An intriguing hand-drawn animated short featuring a “wild child” wolf girl and her loving mother.

Mary LouMary Lou
New York Premiere

Eytan Fox | Israel | 2010 | 150m

Categories: Drama, Israel, Romance

Buy Tickets: Sat Jan 14: 9:00pm

Acclaimed Israeli director Eytan Fox (The Bubble, Walk on Water, Florentine) brings to life a modern fable with a catchy musical message and a story based on the songs of Israeli pop legend Svika Pick. Meir, a young man whose glamorous mother mysteriously disappears, searches for her in Tel Aviv. He learns about love with the help of the gay community and Israeli pop music while performing as a drag queen named Mary Lou. A cross between the TV series Glee and the musical Mama Mia, by way of La Cage aux Folles Israeli-style, Mary Lou garnered the equivalent of the Israeli Emmy Award for best mini-series.

Watch the trailer

My AustraliaMy Australia
New York Premiere

Ami Drozd | Israel/Poland | 2009 | 100m

Categories: Drama, Israel, Poland

Buy Tickets: Thu Jan 12: 3:30pm
Buy Tickets: Thu Jan 19: 3:30pm
Buy Tickets: Sat Jan 21: 6:30pm

In a poor neighborhood in 1960s Lodz, Poland, 10-year-old Tadek and his brother are in a gang with a strong anti-Semitic bent. When they are arrested, their mother, a Holocaust survivor, has no choice but to reveal that though raised as Catholics, they are in fact Jews. Telling the younger boy they are going to Australia, the land of his fantasies, the family boards a ship to Israel. This tender and humorous drama is based on the filmmaker’s own experiences.

Watch the trailer

The Queen Has No CrownThe Queen Has No Crown

Tomer Heymann | Israel | 2011 | 82m

Categories: Documentary, Israel

Buy Tickets: Sun Jan 22: 8:30pm
Buy Tickets: Mon Jan 23: 3:30pm

Tomer Heymann (Paper Dolls) brings us this poignant meditation on family and loss using 8 and 16mm home movies and more recent footage he shot over the past decade to navigate the intimate lives of five brothers and their mother. Three of the Heymann sons take their families and leave Israel for "better" lives in America. They fulfill their own dreams, but shatter those of their mother. She is left in Israel with her two bachelor sons—one straight and the other, Tomer, gay. Exploring the politics of belonging, displacement and sexuality, the film examines the hard decisions one family has to make and the intractable bonds that unite them in the face of difficult life choices.

Watch the trailer

preceded by
New York Premiere

Michael Wahrmann | Brazil | 2009 | 12m

Categories: Short Film

Do all grandmothers give socks and underwear as birthday presents? 10-year-old Leo is much more intrigued by his grandpa’s gift—a Super-8 movie camera.

New York Premiere

Joseph Madmony | Israel | 2011 | 105m

Categories: Drama, Israel, Romance

Buy Tickets: Sun Jan 15: 6:00pm
Buy Tickets: Mon Jan 16: 8:45pm

Joseph Madmony (The Barbecue People, NYJFF 2004) returns with this sensitive drama in which a Tel Aviv man struggles to keep his antique restoration business afloat. Amidst conflicts with his son, a stranger comes to town and a complex love triangle complicates his plans. Featuring outstanding performances by Sasson Gabai (The Band’s Visit) and Sarah Adler (Ultimatum, NYJFF 2010). Nominated for 11 Ophir Awards (Israeli Academy Awards), and winner of the Dramatic Screenwriting Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Watch the trailer

Shoah: The Unseen InterviewsShoah: The Unseen Interviews
New York Premiere

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum | USA | 2011 | 55m

Categories: Classic, Documentary, Israel

Buy Tickets: Sun Jan 15: 3:30pm

This program presents a rare opportunity to see powerful, unused footage from three interviews filmed for Claude Lanzmann’s landmark documentary Shoah—Abraham Bomba, who was a barber in Treblinka; Peter Bergson, who struggled to publicize Nazi crimes against the Jews; and the deeply affecting Ruth Elias. Raye Farr, director of the Steven Spielberg Film & Video Archive at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, will discuss the painstaking process of preserving the 16mm film and editing these segments for viewing.


Ronit Kertsner | Israel | 2011 | 72m

Categories: Documentary, Israel, Poland

Buy Tickets: Tue Jan 17: 6:00pm [at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center]
Buy Tickets: Wed Jan 18: 1:00pm

Can one be a Catholic priest and an observant Jew at the same time? Twelve years after he was ordained as a priest, Romuald Waszkinel discovers that he was born to Jewish parents. This powerful documentary by Ronit Kertsner (The Secret, NYJFF 2002) follows his amazing journey from conducting mass in a church in Poland to life as an observant Jew on a religious kibbutz in Israel. Romuald is torn between two identities. Unable to renounce either one, he finds himself rejected by both religions and the State of Israel.

preceded by
The Moon Is JewishThe Moon Is Jewish
New York Premiere

Michal Tkaczynski | Poland | 2011 | 45m

Categories: Documentary, Poland

Pawel was a skinhead in Warsaw, obsessed with soccer and violence, when his girlfriend discovered he had Jewish ancestry. He underwent a complete spiritual and physical transformation and is now an Orthodox Jew. This compelling documentary, which takes its title from provocative poet Marcin Swietlicki, tells an extraordinary story of identity and belonging.

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; Richard Peña, Program Director, 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.


Susan Barocas, Washington JFF; Natalia Babinski, Polish Cultural Institute, NY; Laurie Cearley, Olli Chanoff, Nadine Goellner, The Office; Nicola Galliner, Berlin JFF; Stuart Hands, Toronto JFF; J. Hoberman, The Village Voice; Andrew Ingall, Foundation for Jewish Culture; Annette Insdorf, Columbia University; Judy Ironside, UK Jewish Film; Aviva Kempner; Joshua Moore, Jay Rosenblatt, San Francisco JFF; Sharon Rivo, Lisa Rivo, National Center for Jewish Film; Sara L. Rubin, Boston JFF; Karen Small, Rutgers JFF; Alla Verlotsky, Seagull Films; Isaac Zablocki, The JCC in Manhattan; The Film Society of Lincoln Center staff; The Jewish Museum staff; Interns: Sophia Grais, Lyudmyla Bua; Volunteers: Marlene Josephs, Linda Lipson.