The Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center will present the 28th annual New York Jewish Film Festival (NYJFF), January 9–22, 2019. Among the oldest and most influential Jewish film festivals worldwide, the NYJFF each year presents the finest documentary, narrative, and short films from around the world that explore the diverse Jewish experience. Featuring new work by fresh voices in international cinema as well as restored classics, the festival’s 2019 lineup includes over 30 wide-ranging and exciting features and shorts from the iconic to the iconoclastic, of which many will be screening in their world, U.S., and New York premieres. Screenings are held at the Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street, NYC.
The complete lineup, including main slate selections and special events, will be announced in December 2018.
The NYJFF opens on Wednesday, January 9, with the New York premiere of Eric Barbier’s epic drama Promise at Dawn, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg and Pierre Niney. This riveting memoir chronicles the colorful life of infamous French author Romain Gary, from his childhood conning Polish high society with his mother to his years as a pilot in the Free French Air Forces. The Centerpiece selection represents the first time Israeli TV has been presented at the NYJFF with the 3½ hour miniseries Autonomies. Directed by Yehonatan Indursky, the dystopian drama is set in an alternate reality of present-day Israel, a nation divided by a wall into the secular “State of Israel,” with Tel Aviv as its capital, and the “Haredi Autonomy” in Jerusalem, run by an ultra-Orthodox religious group. A globally relevant tale of identity, religion, politics, personal freedom, and love, this gripping story follows a custody battle that upends the fragile peace of the country, pushing it to the brink of civil war.
Filmmaker Amos Gitai returns to the 2019 NYJFF with the U.S. premiere of his thought-provoking new drama, A Tramway in Jerusalem. Gitai uses the tramway that runs through Jerusalem to connect a series of short vignettes, forming a mosaic of Jewish and Arab stories embodying life in the city.
The NYJFF will also present the U.S. premiere of Fig Tree by first-time director Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian. Set in Addis Ababa during the Ethiopian Civil War, the film concerns a young woman who plans to flee to Israel with her brother and grandmother to reunite with her mother. But she is unwilling to leave her Christian boyfriend behind and hatches a scheme to save him from being drafted.
This year’s festival features an array of enlightening and gripping documentaries. Highlights include the New York premiere of Roberta Grossman’s Who Will Write Our History, which uses painstakingly compiled archival materials unearthed after World War II to tell the story of a resistance group in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Nazi occupation and the reality of Jewish life in occupied Warsaw; and Rubi Gat’s Dear Fredy, focusing on Fredy Hirsch, a proud and openly gay Jew in Nazi Germany and, later, Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, who oversaw and protected hundreds of children in the camps by setting up a day care center.
NYJFF special programs include the New York City premiere of the new digital restoration of Ewald Andrew Dupont’s 1923 silent masterpiece, The Ancient Law, featuring a new score and live accompaniment by pianist Donald Sosin and klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals. In this classic drama the son of an orthodox rabbi leaves home, against his father’s wishes, to join a traveling theater troupe.
NYJFF ticket information and the full festival schedule will be available at NYJFF.org in late December.
This year’s New York Jewish Film Festival was selected by Rachel Chanoff, Director, THE OFFICE performing arts + film; Gabriel Grossman, Coordinator, New York Jewish Film Festival/The Jewish Museum; Miriam Niedergang, short film curatorial consultant; and Aviva Weintraub, Associate Curator, The Jewish Museum and Director, New York Jewish Film Festival; with Dennis Lim, Director of Programming, Film Society of Lincoln Center, as adviser.
The New York Jewish Film Festival is made possible by the Martin and Doris Payson Fund for Film and Media.
Generous support is also provided by Wendy Fisher and Dennis Goodman, Sara and Axel Schupf, The Liman Foundation, Louise and Frank Ring, an anonymous gift, the Ike, Molly and Steven Elias Foundation, Amy and Howard Rubenstein, Robin and Danny Greenspun, Steven and Sheira Schacter, and through public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with City Council.
Additional support is provided by Office of Cultural Affairs – Consulate General of Israel in New York, the German Consulate General New York, Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, and the Polish Cultural Institute New York.