Our 13th festival will take place in November 2012.
Our website will be updated by the end of September.
Can we interest you in making a donation? Click on the Donate image on our home page or on the link above.
Have you joined our mailing list yet? Click on the Join Our Mailing List image on our home page.
Become our Facebook fan! You can tell us you like us right here.
We are looking for volunteers! Find out more in our Contact Us section.
Come have Shabbat dinner with us! Find out more in our Events section.
A.K.A. Doc Pomus
USA | 2012 | 98 minutes | Blu-ray | English Directors: Peter Miller & Will Hechter
Paralyzed with polio as a child, Brooklyn-born Jerome Felder reinvented himself first 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," "Viva Las Vegas," and dozens of other hits. For most of his life Doc was confined to crutches and a wheelchair, but he lived more during his 65 years than others could only experience in several lifetimes. A.K.A. DOC POMUS brings to life Doc's joyous, romantic, heartbreaking, and extraordinarily eventful journey. In his later years, Doc was a mentor to generations of younger songwriters, and a fierce advocate for downtrodden rhythm and blues musicians. He wrote a thousand songs – including some of the most recorded songs in the history of popular music – but his most lasting gift may have been his uniquely generous spirit. "If the music industry had a heart," record producer Jerry Wexler remembered, "it would be Doc Pomus." Packed with incomparable music and rare archival imagery, A.K.A. DOC POMUS features interviews with Doc's collaborators and friends, including Dr. John, Ben E. King, Joan Osborne, Shawn Colvin, Dion, Leiber and Stoller, Lou Reed and B.B. King. Doc Pomus is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the first white person inducted to The Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame. His story is one of triumph over adversity.
Grand Prize, Stony Brook Film Festival, 2012
France | 2012 | 90 minutes | DCP | French w/ English subtitles Director: Elie Wajeman
Paris. Alex is twenty-seven. He makes a living selling hash and pays off the debts of his brother Isaac who, after providing him with support, has become a burden for him. So when his cousin tells him that he is opening a restaurant in Tel Aviv, Alex imagines joining him to start a new life at last.
Determined to leave, Alex has to find money. But he also has to say goodbye to Paris, a city that he loves, Esther his ex, Mathias his old friend and Jeanne whom he has just met. Torn between aliyah, his drug deals, his complex love life and a destructive brother, Alex has to find his own path.
Breaking Home Ties
USA | 1922 | 78 minutes | Blu-ray | Silent w/ new English intertitles Director: Frank N. Seltzer & George K. Rowlands
Thinking he has killed his friend Paul in a jealous rage, David Bergmann flees pre-revolutionary Russia for America. In New York he becomes a successful lawyer and woos smart, independent Rose. Meanwhile the wealthy Bergmann parents sell their well-appointed home in St. Petersburg and emigrate to New York. Unable to locate their son who is hiding from his past, immigrant life takes its toll and the parents fall into poverty. Will David marry Rose? Will the Bergmanns be reunited? And what about Paul, the friend David thought he killed back in Russia?
Long thought lost, the world’s only existing print of BREAKING HOME TIES was discovered by Sharon Pucker Rivo of The National Center for Jewish Film in a Berlin archive in 1984. That original distribution print with German intertitles had been erroneously produced under a different title. NCJF’s activities included 35 mm film-to-film restoration, additional digital restoration, and translating (and shooting in 35 mm) the intertitles back into English. Only 20% of U.S. feature films from the 1910s & 1920s survive. For independently produced works, the percentage is dramatically lower still. As for silent films with Jewish content, only a tiny handful survive.
Australia | 2010 | 15 minutes | DVD | English Director: CJ Johnson
James is dying of liver failure at an old age. Called to his bedside, his son Marcus discovers that James is not only not circumcised, he is not even a Jew! And unless he can get circumcised before he dies, he will not be allowed to be buried next to his wife in the Orthodox cemetery in which she lies. Marcus has to figure out how to circumcise his dear old dad – and in the process deals with a sneaky rabbi, a crusty old mohel (circumcisor) and his own ideals, conscience and feelings. Like a good Jewish joke, or a shaggy-dog story with a yarmulke, THE BRIS is an examination of fathers and sons, love, and the ultimate wonder of generosity.
Debt, The (HaHov)
Israel | 2007 | 100 minutes | 35 mm | Hebrew & German w/ English subtitles Director: Assaf Bernstein
The year is 1965. Rachel Brenner is one of three young Mossad agents who become famous in Israel for catching "The Surgeon of Birkenau". But the Nazi monster was never brought to trial because, as the official story goes, he was shot while attempting to escape from his captors. Thirty-five years later, when a small article appears in an unimportant newspaper in Kiev, Ukraine, claiming that the Surgeon is alive and is willing to admit his crimes, the now older ex-Mossad agents decide they need to protect their lives, their reputations and the story they invented. Rachel is chosen one to carry out the mission to eliminate "the Surgeon of Birkenau", but will the respectable old lady be able to once again become a cold-blooded hit woman?
THE DEBT was remade in 2010 starring Helen Mirren as Rachel.
France/UAE/Ireland/Algeria | 2012 | 90 minutes | DCP | French & Arabic w/ English subtitles Director: Safinez Bousbia
EL GUSTO tells the story of a journey that started in a small mirror shop during the director's visit to Algiers in 2003. Intrigued by some old photographs of a music class from the 1940s, she set out to track down these lost friends, now aged between 70 and 100 and living across Algeria and France. Five decades after their first lessons at the Conservatory of Algiers under the legendary master El Hadj M’Hamed El Anka, the members of El Gusto now recount the country’s turbulent history and their undying passion for Chaabi – a rhythmic and unique cocktail of Andalusian, Berber, Arabic and Flamenco music traditions. Chaabi was the homegrown music of the Algerian Kasbah; the music of the streets, the coffee shops and weddings that united and defied religion, class, and ethnicity.
Führer Gives a City to the Jews, The
Nazi Germany | 1944 | 23 minutes | DVD | German w/ English subtitles Produced by the Ministry of Propaganda of the Third Reich
THE FÜHRER GIVES A CITY TO THE JEWS is the only film known to be made by the Nazis inside an operating concentration camp. Germany's Ministry of Propaganda produced this film about Theresienstadt, the "model" ghetto established by the Nazis in 1941 in Terezin, a garrison town in the former Czechoslovakia.
Nazi Minister of Propaganda Director Joseph Goebbels intended to use the film to prove to the International Red Cross and the world that Jews were being well-treated in the camps. The film, however, is an elaborately staged hoax presenting a completely false picture of camp life. Upon completion, the director and most of the cast of prisoners were shipped to Auschwitz. Only a few survived to attest to the falsity of the film.
Heart of Auschwitz, The
Canada | 2010 | 85 minutes | DVD | English, French, Hebrew, Portuguese & Polish w/ English & Chinese subtitles Director: Carl Leblanc
"The Heart of Auschwitz" is a small, handmade booklet in the shape of a heart, on permanent display at the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre. Made by a group of former Auschwitz female inmates for the 20th birthday of their friend Fania Landau, these girls were forced laborers at the Union Metalwerks factory in Auschwitz, which manufactured explosives and ammunitions. Although they were working 12-hour shifts and under the harshest conditions, when one of the girls came up with the idea of doing something special for Fania's birthday, they all joined in.
Sixty-five years later, documentary filmmaker Carl Leblanc goes on a search to discover those risked their lives to create this beautiful card, and how it came to survive the horrors of war.
UK | 2012 | 75 minutes | DVD | English, Russian & Ukrainian w/ English subtitles Director: Dan Edelstyn
HOW TO RE-ESTABLISH A VODKA EMPIRE charts the journey of film director Dan Edelstyn as he tracks down his long-lost Ukrainian Jewish heritage, and then attempts to re-launch his great grandfather's once glorious vodka empire. The film is a whirlwind journey back in time to the life of the director's grandmother Maroussia Zorokovich – writer, dancer, painter and romantic – and follows her exciting and turbulent journey during the 1917 Russian Revolution, out of Ukraine, across Europe and into exile in Belfast. But it is also a moving and comic account of a modern-day struggle to get a business started in the cut-throat world of the drinks industry. It is a meditation on loss and identity, and a celebration of family and life itself, cleverly disguised as a screwball business adventure.
I Shall Remember (Ya Budu Pomnit)
Russia | 2010 | 97 minutes | Digibeta | Russian w/ English & Chinese subtitles Director: Vitaly Vorobjev
Vadik, a 13-year-old boy who is the son of a Russian man and a Greek woman, resents his father for staying at home while the fathers of all the other boys in his small Russian town are away fighting against the Nazis. Only later does he learn that his father is a true hero who is hiding many people, including a Jewish boy, thus saving their lives at great risk to his own. Evocatively photographed, I SHALL REMEMBER is a story of courage under the most extreme circumstances.
Just the Two of Us
Israel | 2011 | 42 minutes | DVD | Hebrew w/ English subtitles Director: Tzipi Baider
The journey of 88-year-old Samuel Wilinberg and Kalman Taigman – two completely opposite personalities who happen to be the last two survivors of the Treblinka death camp. For the first time and very possibly for the last time, the two men return to the camp from which the fled 68 years earlier. Together they re-live, reminisce, laugh, cry, and even sing the Treblinka anthem.
Kaddish For a Friend (Kaddisch fuer Einen Freund)
Germany | 2011 | 94 minutes | 35 mm | German & Arabic w/ English & Chinese subtitles Director: Leo Khasin
Growing up in a Palestinian refugee camp, 14-year-old Ali learned to hate Jews at an early age. After escaping Lebanon, he and his family end up in Berlin-Kreuzberg. There, he tries to fit in and longs for nothing more than to be accepted by his fellow Arab youths. But to gain this recognition, he has to prove himself. In a test of courage, he breaks into the apartment of his Russian neighbour, an 84-year-old Jewish WWII veteran. But Ali’s "friends" follow him into the apartment and vandalize the old man’s home with abandon. Alexander only recognises Ali when he returns home earlier than expected and reports him to the police. To avoid being sentenced and deported, Ali is forced to seek out closeness to his enemy.
KADDISH FOR A FRIEND is a tragicomic story about friendship, trust and the art of forgiveness.
Special Mention, Giffoni 2011 Castello d’Oro & Fuori le Mura Awards, Castellinaria Bellinzona, 2011 Special Jury Award, Tashkent, 2011 Audience Award, Boston, 2011 Audience Favorite, Washington D.C., 2011
USA | 2012 | 67 minutes | DVD | English w/ Chinese subtitles Directors: Sandy Dickson & Churchill Roberts
Petr Ginz, a child prodigy from Czechoslovakia, was a writer and artist whose imaginary works captured a world of adventure and exotic locations. By the age of 14, he had written five novels and penned a diary about the Nazi occupation of Prague. By 16, he had produced more than 170 drawings and paintings, edited the underground magazine Vedem in the Theresienstadt Ghetto, written numerous short stories and had walked into the gas chambers at Auschwitz. But much of Petr's story was unknown until the ill-fated Columbia space shuttle mission in 2003 when Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon, carried Petr's drawing, "Moon Landscape", into space. The publicity surrounding the flight and its subsequent explosion led to the discovery of Petr's diary and additional artwork and short stories in a Prague attic. Out of this double tragedy comes a story of celebration – a testament to how a boy’s wonder and creative expression represent the best of what makes us human.
Germany | 2010 | 14 minutes | DVD | German w/ English subtitles Director: Petra Lüschow
Grandma Wölkel imagines she is back in Nazi Germany – complicating the family's Christmas celebrations, especially as one of their guests will be Jewish.
Audience Award, Bamberger Kurzfilmtage, 2012 Best Screenplay, Short Cutz Awards, 2012 Winner of the short film competition, Trieste Film Festival, 2011 Winner of the 17th Shortfilmaward, Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Foundation, 2011 Best Comedy, Heart of Gold International Film Festival, 2011 Audience Award, Schwenninger Kurzfilmfestival, 2011 1st place (German Shortfilm-Competition), Exground Wiesbaden, 2010
My Australia (Ostralia Sheli)
Israel/Poland | 2011 | 96 minutes | 35 mm | Polish & Hebrew w/ English & Chinese subtitles Director: Ami Drozd
Struggling alone to bring up her two sons in 1960s Poland, Halina discovers Andre and Tadek have joined a neo-Nazi gang after they are arrested for attacking Jewish school children. She is forced to tell them the truth. Halina herself is a Jew who survived the Holocaust but who has raised the boys in the Catholic faith for their own protection. Realising there is no future for her or her family in Poland, Halina decides to immigrate to Israel. Only she tells her youngest, Tadek, their destination is Australia. As they try to settle in Haifa, the family struggles to form an identity, adjusting to a new life, religion and sense of home.
A charming rites-of-passage that focuses primarily on the street-wise Tadek, MY AUSTRALIA is a tender and humorous drama based on writer/director Ami Drozd’s own experiences.
Special Jury Award, New York Polish Film Festival, 2012 Silver Phoenix, Jewish Motifs International Film Festival (Warsaw), 2012 Audience Award, Jerusalem International Film Festival, 2011
Not Your Time: A Musical
USA | 2010 | 25 minutes | DCP | English Director: Jay Kamen
An autobiographical musical, NOT YOUR TIME follows the life and career disappointments of Sid Rosenthal, an ex-Hollywood screenwriter, now a studio censor film editor. When his latest screenwriting disappointment proves to be too much, he decides to take a new approach. He'll shoot himself unless someone he knows tries to talks him out of it. Calling everyone he's ever known or worked for, Sid is surprised by their responses. Stars Jason Alexander ("George Costanza", Seinfeld).
Audience Award (Best Short Film), Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, 2012 Best Short Film, Boston International Film Festival, 2011 Best Picture, New Media Film Festival (Los Angeles), 2011
Israel | 2012 | 60 minutes | DVD | Hebrew w/ English subtitles Directors: Uriel Sinai & Dana Doron
Auschwitz prisoners, both Jewish and non-Jewish, were tattooed with serial numbers, first on their chests and then their left arms. An estimated 400,000 numbers were tattooed in Auschwitz and its sub-camps; only some several thousand survivors are still alive today. NUMBERED is an explosive, highly visual, and emotionally cinematic journey, guided by testimonies and portraits of these survivors. The film documents the dark time and setting during which these tattoos were assigned as well as the meaning they took on in the years following the war. In fact, the film’s protagonist is the number itself, as it evolves and becomes both a personal and collective symbol from 1940 to today. These scars, paradoxically unanimous and anonymous, reveal themselves to be diverse, enlightening, and full of life.
Once Upon a Bench (Au fil du banc)
France | 2012 | 7 minutes | DVD | French w/ English subtitles Director: Alexandra Torterotot
As is the case every morning, Evelyne goes to the Ile Saint-Louis, on the corner of the Quai de Bourbon, to enjoy the birds. But this morning she is disturbed by Julian, a young Roma man, who decides to share the bench with her. The young man ends up confiding in the old lady, and her story evokes distant memories. Gradually, an unlikely friendship is created.
Shéhérazade and the Kosher Delight
France | 2010 | 20 minutes | DVD | French w/ English subtitles Director: Agnès Caffin
Desperate to find a job, Shéhérazade, young Palestinian woman without papers, presents herself at rue des Rosiers in response to an advertisement she saw. Esther, the owner of the luxury restaurant Kosher Delight, is looking for an assistant Jewish cook.
Outstanding Achievement Award (Story), Newport Beach Film festival, 2012 Audience Award, PalmSprings ShortFest, 2011 Special Mention against Violence and Intolerance, Interfilm Berlin, 2011 Special Mention (David Camera Award), Warsaw Jewish Film Festival, 2011
Six Million and One
Israel/Germany/Austria | 2011 | 93 minutes | DVD | Hebrew & German w/ English subtitles Director: David Fisher
Joseph Fisher's memoir was discovered only after his death. His children refused to confront it, except for David, the filmmaker, for whom it became a compass for a long journey. When he found it unbearable to be alone in the wake of his father's survival story and his struggle not to lose his sanity, David convinced his brothers and sister to join him in the hope that this would also contribute to releasing tensions and making them as close as they used to be. They, for their part, couldn't understand why anyone should want to dig into the past instead of enjoying life in the present. In the dark depths of the tunnels, part of an Austrian forced labor camp, where their father had slaved during the Holocaust, illuminated only by flashlights, the Fishers seek meaning in their personal and family histories.
"My siblings refused to open my father's memoir after his death. I opened it, uncovering his demons. Some names and issues were familiar – others seemed to be weird or hallucinatory. I tried deciphering them and ended up in the footsteps of the memoir. I made half the journey alone. I forced the second half on my siblings, making them crawl around tunnels and walk enchanted forests. This isn't a film about the Holocaust, because we spent most of our time laughing; it's about a father's legacy and a rare kind of intimacy replacing pain with bitter-sweet humor." - Director David Fisher
Summer of Aviya, The (HaKayitz Shel Aviya)
Israel | 1988 | 95 minutes | DVD | Hebrew w/ English & Chinese subtitles Director: Eli Cohen
It is summertime, 1951, in an Israeli town where European immigrants continue to settle after World War II. Still scarred and raw from the Holocaust, they are often misunderstood and ridiculed by native Israelis. Aviya is a bright 10-year-old girl whose fiercely independent mother, Henya is traumatized by her own experiences as a Partisan during the war. Their affectionate, fragile and deeply poignant relationship is told through Aviya, who hopes for stability with her mother while still having fantasies of a father she refuses to believe is dead.
An exquisite and courageous memoir providing profound insights into Israeli society. Based on the autobiographical book "The Summer of Aviya" by Gila Almagor.
Best Director and Best Actress, Awards of the Israeli Film Academy, 1989 Silver Bear, Berlin International Film Festival, 1989 Best Foreign Quality Film, San Remo (Italy) Festival, 1989 Golden Spike, Valladolid (Spain) Film Festival, 1989
UK/USA | 2011 | 85 minutes | 35 mm | English Director: Jonathan Newman
Alvin and Ellie first met in college and, back then, they couldn't get enough of each other. A few years into their marriage, however, lust has turned to lethargy, and neither can muster enough passion for a satisfying round of earth-shaking sex. Meanwhile, Alvin and Ellie's friends Peter and Janet are having relationship problems of their own. And when an incident with Ellie and a cucumber goes hilariously awry, she suggests that sleeping with another couple may be the best way to reignite their passions for one another. Unfortunately, finding the perfect pair for some naughty fun proves a bit more complicated than Alvin and Ellie had anticipated. Stars Martin Freeman from the British (and better) version of the TV series "The Office".
Under the Domim Tree (Etz HaDomim Tafus)
Israel | 1995 | 102 minutes | DVD | Hebrew w/ English & Chinese subtitles Director: Eli Cohen
In a boarding school in Israel, circa 1953, Aviya is the only Israeli-born girl among her schoolmates (the rest are Holocaust survivors from various European countries). The public debate on the issue of accepting German reparations for Nazi atrocities awakens the dormant individual memories of each of the youths, and creates sharp conflicts which influence their coming-of-age with its fears, dreams, problems of identity, and first love. While Aviya is determined to find the tomb of her father, who died before she was born, her mother, who is now in a hospital, refuses to recall her own painful past.
The worthy sequel to THE SUMMER OF AVIYA, starring Gila Almagor