UK | 2011 | 7 minutes | Digibeta | No dialogue
Director: Lukasz Konopa
A film about contemporary life at Birkenau. In an observation from dawn to dusk, it portrays the theatre of everyday life around the grim confines, and captures the energies and activities of a world fascinated by this former concentration camp.
Young Public Award, Visions du Reel, 2012
Special Mention, Hamburg Short Film Festival, 2012
Special Mention, International Short Film Festival of Cyprus, 2012
Best Documentary – Magma International Short Film Festival, 2011
Poland | 2012 | 104 minutes | DCP | Polish w/ English & Chinese subtitles
Director: Wladyslaw Pasikowski
Franciszek returns to Poland after years of living abroad, alarmed that his younger brother is at odds with the residents of their village. Upon his arrival, when he discovers that the source of the dispute is a dark secret from years ago, the estranged brothers try to find out the truth. Their investigation only deepens the conflict, which turns into outright aggression. The secret, once revealed, will leave a tragic mark on the life of the two brothers and their neighbours.
Best Actor and Best Production Design, Polish Film Awards, 2013
Big Bad Wolves
Israel | 2013 | 110 minutes | DCP | Hebrew w/ English subtitles
Directors: Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado
A series of brutal murders puts the lives of three men on a collision course: The father of the latest victim now out for revenge, a vigilante police detective operating outside the boundaries of law, and the main suspect in the killings – a religious studies teacher arrested and released due to a police blunder. BIG BAD WOLVES is the latest film by directing duo Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado whose first film, RABIES, was our Closing Night film in 2011. This black comedy/revenge thriller/horror stars previous HKJFF guests Tzahi Grad and Dvir Benedek, and Lior Ashkenazi, who is also very familiar to our audience.
Cap Or Kippah (Cap of Keppel)
The Netherlands | 2012 | 15 minutes | Blu-ray | Dutch & Hebrew w/ English subtitles
Director: Susanne Engels
Bram, age 14, keeps it a secret at his secondary school that he is Jewish, because he’s afraid he will get bullied because of it. He grew up in a small village and was the only Jewish child at the local primary school. Whether it’s discrimination or not, Bram feels that he is being treated differently from other children and that he has to defend himself because he’s Jewish.
Cap or Kippah is about a child living in two worlds. In the one, he prefers to cover up the fact that he’s Jewish, in the other he comes clean about it.
First Fagin, The
Australia | 2012 | 87 minutes | Digibeta | English
Directors: Alan Rosenthal and Helen Gaynor
When Charles Dickens created the character of Fagin in his novel, Oliver Twist, he gave birth to one of the most infamous rogues in English literature. Few people know that Dickens’ portrait of Fagin drew inspiration from the life of the Jewish receiver and fencer of stolen goods, Ikey Solomon. Much has been written about Ikey’s exploits: his amazing and daring prison escapes have captured people’s imaginations through the generations.
THE FIRST FAGIN recreates Ikey’s journey from London’s dens of vice, Newgate jail, and the notorious prison “hulks” on the Thames to a daring escape to the new world of America. Ikey then tempted fate by sailing to Tasmania in search of his wife who had been transported as a convict. In Tasmania, Ikey began a long legal battle to defy the authorities of one of Australia’s most severe convict settlements.
As a rare examination of the criminal sub-culture from which Dickens drew inspiration, and of the convict system in early colonial Australia, THE FIRST FAGIN seamlessly blends reconstructed dramatic sequences with historical documentary. It’s a colourful and lively evocation of a turbulent period and a riveting account of the dramatic swings in Ikey Solomon’s fate.
Hava Nagila (The Movie)
USA | 2012 | 73 minutes | Blu-ray | English
Director: Roberta Grossman
It is instantly recognizable – a musical shorthand for anything Jewish; a happy party tune that you dance to at weddings, bar mitzvahs and even at Major League Baseball games. It conjures up wistful smiles, memories of generations past… and no shortage of eye rolling. But the song is much more than a tale of Jewish kitsch and bad bar mitzvah fashions. It carries with it an entire constellation of history, values and hopes for the future. In its own believe-it-or-not way, Hava Nagila encapsulates the Jewish journey over the past 150 years. It also reveals the power of one song to express and sustain identity, to transmit lessons across generations and to bridge cultural divides and connect us all on a universal level.
Featuring interviews with Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis, Glen Campbell, Leonard Nimoy, Regina Spektor and more, HAVA NAGILA (THE MOVIE) is directed by Roberta Grossman (BLESSED IS THE MATCH: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF HANNAH SENESH, HKJFF ’10 Audience Award Winner).
Igor and the Cranes’ Journey
Israel/Poland/Germany | 2012 | 90 minutes | DCP | Russian & Hebrew w/ English & Chinese subtitles
Director: Evgeny Ruman
When Igor’s mother decides for the both of them to move from Russia to Israel, he must learn to face many new challenges, just as the baby crane he observed hatching must soon set out on his first migration. This is the story of an 11-year old boy and a crane, both on a journey that will change them forever.
Special Mention, Haifa International Film Festival, 2012
In the Shadow (Ve Stinu)
Czech Republic/Slovakia/Poland | 2012 | 106 minutes | Blu-ray | Czech, Polish & German w/ English subtitles
Director: David Ondricek
Set in former Czechoslovakia amid dramatic events of the 1950s, IN THE SHADOW is a gripping crime narrative that ultimately intervenes in the fates of the characters and their loved ones. Captain Hakl is investigating a jewellery store heist. Thanks to behind-the-scenes scheming on the part of the secret police though, a run-of-the-mill burglary becomes a political affair. The aim is to divert attention from much more significant events that the communist dictatorship has underway for its people. On the orders of State Security, Hakl’s investigation is taken over by Major Zenke, an East German police specialist, under whose leadership it is shown that the stolen gold was meant to support the Jewish community in “financing Zionist terrorism”. But Hakl’s experienced instincts as a criminologist are discovering an altogether different story, and he continues in the investigation on his own. Can one just man withstand a struggle with the well-connected network of the communist police? The adversary is powerful, and Hakl soon finds out he can believe nothing and no one. Hanging over everyone is a shadow of their past, of their weaknesses, that can make a culprit of a victim and a hero of a culprit.
Winner of 9 awards, Czech Lions, 2013
Winner, Directors to Watch, Palm Springs International Film Festival, 2013
Winner, World Cinema, Phoenix Film Festival, 2013
It Is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl
USA | 2012 | 97 minutes | DCP | English w/ Chinese subtitles
Director: Rick Trank
Theodor Herzl was an assimilated Jew, successful playwright and author. Born into a traditional but mostly non-religious family in Budapest in 1860, he was changed by the trial of Captain Alfred Dreyfus in Paris, which he covered as a journalist in 1895. Previously, he had advocated the mass conversion of Jews to Christianity as a solution to the growing anti-Semitism of Europe. However, after witnessing the court proceedings where Dreyfus was falsely convicted of treason and the anti-Jewish demonstrations of the French public, Herzl became convinced that the only answer to the anti-Semitism that was spreading across Europe was the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, the Biblical homeland of the Jewish people. He wrote a political treatise entitled “Der Judenstaat” or “The Jewish State” that became an international bestseller, laying out his ideas for creating a new Jewish state.
Narrated by Academy Award® winner Ben Kingsley and starring Academy Award® winner Christoph Waltz as the voice of Theodor Herzl. Co-written and produced by two-time Academy Award® winner Rabbi Marvin Hier and co-written, produced and directed by Academy Award® winner Richard Trank (UNLIKELY HEROES, HKJFF ’04, and I HAVE NEVER FORGOTTEN YOU: THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF SIMON WIESENTHAL, HKJFF ’07).
French | 2012 | 96 minutes | Digibeta | French w/ English subtitles
Director: Ilan Duran Cohen
THE JEWISH CARDINAL tells the amazing true story of Jean-Marie Lustiger, the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants, who maintained his cultural identity as a Jew even after converting to Catholicism at a young age, and later joining the priesthood. Quickly rising within the ranks of the Church, Lustiger was appointed Archbishop of Paris by Pope Jean Paul II – and found a new platform to celebrate his dual identity as a Catholic Jew, earning him both friends and enemies from either group. When Carmelite nuns settle down to build a convent within the cursed walls of Auschwitz, Lustiger finds himself a mediator between the two communities – and may be forced at last to choose his side.
USA | 2010 | 84 minutes | DVD | English
Directors: Michael Pertnoy and Michael Kleiman
THE LAST SURVIVOR is an award winning, feature-length documentary film that presents the stories of four survivors and their struggle to make sense of tragedy by working to educate a new generation, inspire tolerance and spark a civic response to mass atrocity crimes. Following the lives of survivors of four different genocides and mass atrocities – the Holocaust, Rwanda, Darfur, and Congo – THE LAST SURVIVOR presents a unique opportunity to learn from the lessons and mistakes of our past in order to have a lasting social impact on how we act collectively in the face of similar issues which still exist today.
Best Documentary & Audience Award, Oxford Film Festival, 2010
Special Jury Prize, Dallas International Film Festival, 2010
Special Documentary Jury Award, Indie Memphis Film Festival, 2010
Best Documentary, Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival, 2010
Audience Award – Best Documentary, San Antonio Film Festival, 2010
No Place On Earth
Germany/USA/UK | 2012 | 83 minutes | DCP | English w/ Chinese subtitles
Director: Janet Tobias
In 1942, 38 men, women and children slid down a cold, muddy hole in the ground, seeking refuge from the war above in a pitch-black underground world where no human had gone before. These five Ukrainian Jewish families created their own society where young men bravely ventured into the harrowing night to collect food, supplies and chop firewood. The girls and women never left; surviving underground longer than anyone in recorded history. Held together by an iron-willed matriarch, after 511 days, the cave dwellers, ages 2 to 76, emerged at war’s end in tattered clothes, blinded by a sun some children forgot existed. Despite all odds, they had survived.
The remarkable true story of NO PLACE ON EARTH starts out as a mystery. While exploring some of the longest caves in the world in southwestern Ukraine in the 1990s, American caver Chris Nicola stumbled onto unusual objects – an antique ladies’ shoe and comb, old buttons and an old world key. Was the vague rumor true, that some Jews had hid in this cave during WWII and if so, had any survived to tell their tale?
67 years later, Chris leads four of the survivors back to Ukraine to say thank you to “the cave.”
Audience Award (Best Documentary), Hamptons International Festival, 2012
Orchestra of Exiles
USA/Israel | 2012 | 85 minutes | Blu-ray | English
Director: Josh Aronson
In the early 1930’s, Hitler began firing Jewish musicians across Europe. Overcoming extraordinary obstacles, violinist Bronislaw Huberman moved these great musicians to Palestine and formed a symphony that would become the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. With courage, resourcefulness and an entourage of allies including Arturo Toscanini and Albert Einstein, Huberman saved close to 1000 Jews – along with the musical heritage of Europe.
Featuring Itzhak Perlman, Zubin Mehta, Pinchas Zukerman, Joshua Bell and others, ORCHESTRA OF EXILES is the suspenseful chronicle of how one man helped save Europe’s premiere Jewish musicians from obliteration.
Out In the Dark (Alta)
Israel/Palestinian Territory/USA | 2012 | 96 minutes | DCP | Hebrew, Arabic & English w/ English subtitles
Director: Michael Mayer
Nimer, a Palestinian student and dedicated son, dreams of studying abroad and of a better life. One fateful night he meets Roy, an Israeli lawyer, and the two fall in love. As their relationship deepens, Nimer is confronted with the harsh realities of a Palestinian society that refuses to accept him for his sexual identity, and an Israeli society that rejects him for his Palestinian nationality.
When his close friend is caught hiding illegally in Tel Aviv and sent back to the West Bank to be brutally murdered, Nimer is sent hurling down a path of personal sacrifice and mortal danger.
Now he must choose between the life he thought he wanted and his love for Roy.
Best Feature, Haifa International Film Festival, 2012
Best of Fest, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, 2013
Audience Award (Best Feature), Mardi Gras Film Festival, 2013
Red Rose Award/Best Released Film, Jaipur International Film Festival, 2013
Special Mention/Premio Maguey, Guadalajara International Film Festival, 2013
And 7 other awards
USA | 2012 | 88 minutes | Blu-ray | English
Director: Jason Chaet
For some, life is an adventure filled with opportunities to excel and places to explore. For Walter Himmelstein, a young man, endearingly known as Putzel, life literally doesn’t go beyond his family’s fish store and his community on the upper west side of Manhattan. In this heartwarming comedy, Walter’s aspirations of taking over his uncle’s smoked fish emporium are disrupted by the arrival of Sally, who becomes romantically involved with his about-to-retire and very-married uncle. While Walter tries to thwart their romance in order to ensure his taking over the business, he finds his circumscribed life thrown off kilter, and, after years of being undermined by his family and friends, he finally starts to realize his full potential. With Sally’s help, Walter confronts his fears and proves he is more than a Putzel.
Best Picture, Phoenix Film Festival, 2013
Belarus/Czech Republic/France/Poland/Russia | 2012 | 17 minutes | DVD | no dialogue
Director: Costa Fam
A single pair of shoes ingeniously conveys the story of a Jewish girl from a provincial town in Europe, who goes from adolescence to her death at Auschwitz. SHOES is about fate and the lives lost in the concentration camps, leaving behind only their shoes.
Israel | 2013 | 3 episodes x 45 minutes | Digibeta | Hebrew & Yiddish w/ English & Chinese subtitles
Director: Alon Zingman
Akiva and Shulem Shtisel, father and son, sit on a little balcony overlooking streets of the Geula neighborhood of Jerusalem. A year has passed since the mother died. All the other children have left the nest, and only Shulam and Akiva remain – quarreling, making up, and laughing about themselves and the rest of the world. All will change when Akiva meets Elisheva.
Tenth Drop, The (La Dixieme Goutte)
French | 2013 | 30 minutes | DVD | French w/ English subtitles
Director: Gabriel Ohayon
With only eight Jewish men in Corsica, how does this community gather a minyan (a quorum of 10 Jewish men required to practice certain religious ceremonies)? A portrait of this tiny Jewish community, fighting to survive on a small island, as they reflect on their past and how difficult it is to contemplate their Jewish future.
Israel | 2004 | 77 minutes | DVD | Hebrew, English & German w/ English subtitles
Director: Yaron Zilberman
WATERMARKS is the story of the champion women swimmers of the legendary Jewish sports club, Hakoah Vienna. Hakoah (“The Strength” in Hebrew) was founded in 1909 in response to the notorious Aryan Paragraph, which forbade Austrian sports clubs from accepting Jewish athletes. Its founders were eager to popularize sport among a community renowned for such great minds as Freud, Mahler and Zweig, but traditionally alien to physical recreation. Hakoah rapidly grew into one of Europe’s biggest athletic clubs, while achieving astonishing success in many diverse sports. In the 1930s Hakoah’s best-known triumphs came from its women swimmers, who dominated national competitions in Austria. After the Anschluss, in 1938, the Nazis shut down the club, but the swimmers all managed to flee the country before the war broke out, thanks to an escape operation initiated by Hakoah’s functionaries. Sixty-five years later, director Yaron Zilberman meets the members of the swimming team in their homes around the world, and arranges for them to have a reunion in their old swimming pool in Vienna, a journey that evokes memories of youth, femininity, and strengthens lifelong bonds. Told by the swimmers, now in their eighties, WATERMARKS is about a group of young girls with a passion to be the best.
Best Israeli Film, Berlin Jewish Film Festival, 2005
Grand Prix, Kiev Contact – International Documentary Film Festival, 2005
Audience Award, Palm Springs International Film Festival, 2005
Audience Award, San Diego Jewish Film Festival, 2005
Audience Award, Boston Jewish Film Festival, 2004
Best Cinematography, Jerusalem International Film Festival, 2004
Audience Award, Washington Jewish Film Festival, 2004
Wilt Chamberlain: Borscht Belt Bellhop
USA | 2013 | 8 minutes | Blu-ray | English
Directors: Caroline Laskow & Ian Rosenberg
In 1954, before his senior year of high school, Wilt Chamberlain took a summer job that would change his life. He worked as a bellhop at Kutsher’s Country Club, a Jewish resort in the Catskill Mountains. By day he was making $2 an hour and getting great tips from the awestruck guests as he lifted their luggage through a second floor window while standing outside on the ground. At night, he played on the Kutsher’s basketball team and was coached hard by the resort’s athletic director, the soon-to-be legendary Red Auerbach. Mixing rarely-seen archival video and interviews with people who lived and worked with Wilt during that magical summer, this documentary short reveals an unexplored and pivotal chapter in the life of one of basketball’s greatest players, and a fascinating glimpse of a time when a very different era of basketball met the Borscht Belt in its heyday.
World Is Funny, The (Haolam Mats’chik)
Israel | 2012 | 122 minutes | DCP | Hebrew w/ English subtitles
Director: Shemi Zarhin
THE WORLD IS FUNNY, Israel’s box-office hit of 2012, nominated for a record 15 Israeli academy awards, is a complex allegory on Israeli society, far away from news headlines.
Aspiring writer Zafi has trouble composing endings to her stories. She uses her housecleaning jobs to find interesting tales. Among the accounts she collects and ties together is the story of estranged siblings.
The film is populated by over 50 characters, each trying to be the hero in his own story, each escaping from despair into the comfort and hope of their imaginations, and each wondering whether their tales are a reflection of reality, or perhaps reality itself is a story being told.
Zigzag Kid, The (Nono, Het Zigzag Kind)
The Netherlands | 2012 | 90 minutes | Digibeta | Dutch & English w/ English & Chinese subtitles
Director: Vincent Bal
Nono wants to be like his father – the best police inspector in the world – but he constantly gets in trouble. Two days before his Bar Mitzvah, he is sent away to his uncle Sjmoel, who is supposed to get him back on track. However, during the train ride Nono gets one last chance to prove himself… Together with master-burglar Felix Glick – an old acquaintance of his father – he stops the train and enters a world of disguises, chases, French chansons and Zohara, a mysterious woman whose secrets will change Nono’s life forever. Starring Isabella Rosselini.
Young Audience Award, European Film Awards, 2013
Audience Award (Feature Film), Montreal International Children’s Film Festival, 2013