Welcome to the 24th annual New York Jewish Film Festival, the preeminent showcase for cinema exploring the diversity of Jewish experience around the world, presented by the Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. The 2015 NYJFF features world, U.S., and New York film premieres, plus special “beyond the screen” programs, including a poster exhibition and panel discussions.
This year’s lineup was selected by Florence Almozini, Senior Programmer, Film Society of Lincoln Center; Rachel Chanoff, THE OFFICE performing arts + film; Jaron Gandelman, Curatorial Assistant for Media, Jewish Museum and Coordinator, New York Jewish Film Festival; Jens Hoffmann, Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Public Programs, Jewish Museum and Curator for Special Programs, New York Jewish Film Festival; and Aviva Weintraub, Associate Curator, Jewish Museum and Director, New York Jewish Film Festival.Academy Film Archive; George Eastman House; Library of Congress; UCLA Film and Television Archive; National Center for Jewish Film; Cultural Services of the French Embassy
Opening Night | U.S. Premiere
Q&A with Asaf Galay and Shaul Betser at both screenings
This surprising and unflinching documentary explores, through poignant interviews and exclusive archival footage, the unknown history of one of Nobel Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer’s most vital sources of creative inspiration: his translators.
Q&A with Maxime Giroux at both screenings
When Meira, an Orthodox wife and mother with an undercurrent of rebelliousness, meets Félix, a middle-aged atheist adrift without family ties, a slow-booming affair takes shape in this Montreal-set drama that unfolds like a classic forbidden-love novel.
Q&A with producer Nancy Spielberg
Combining interviews with the men who smuggled U.S. planes behind the Iron Curtain to train and fight in the Israeli War of Independence with stunning footage from the planes, this documentary poetically traces the journey from hometown to homeland.
Q&A with director Alexey Fedorchenko and actress Darya Ekamasova
This colorful film tells the story of five cosmopolitan friends, led by the famous “Polina the Revolutionary,” searching for answers about Russian avant-gardists who trekked up to the banks of the Amnya River to take part in the Great Samoyedic War.
Q&A with Erik Greenberg Anjou and subject Ziggy Gruber at both screenings
A portrait of the effusive and charming Ziggy Gruber, a Texan, Yiddish-speaking, third-generation delicatessen man who currently operates one of the country’s most acclaimed delis, Kenny and Ziggy’s in Houston.
Q&A with Yossi Aviram at both screenings
This elegant and understated piece of fiction, equal parts mystery and family drama, meditates on the consequences of choosing a particular path at life’s crossroads as a 65-year-old Parisian cop meets a spiritually motivated younger man.
Q&A with Felix Moeller at both screenings
Felix Moeller brings us into the vaulted, explosive-resistant compound where the 40 banned films produced under the Nazi regime are kept and interviews renowned film historians and filmmakers who debate the question: are they worth keeping?
Q&A with Shlomi Elkabetz at both screenings
In this dramatic adaptation of a harrowing true story set in a Mizrahi Orthodox enclave in Israel, a woman (co-director Ronit Elkabetz, in an unforgettable performance) spends five years in an increasingly surreal stalemate fighting for a divorce.
Pioneering Israeli film producers Menachem Golan and Yoram Globus are paid tribute in this documentary featuring a range of interviews with Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and other B-movie talent, as well as Golan and Globus themselves.
Q&A with Guy Natanel, Annie Sulzberger, and artist David Breuer-Weil at both screenings
This meditative film offers a thoughtful portrait of its fascinating, reclusive subject: David Breuer-Weil, who gave up a career as one of the world’s leading art dealers to embark on a life of creativity and contemplation.
Q&A with Michael Verhoeven, author Laura Waco, and actress Naomi Krauss
The “nasty boy” of German cinema artfully presents a biting commentary on postwar German society in this adaptation of the autobiographical novel by Laura Waco, a subtly probing investigation of the complex notion of German-Jewish identity.
Note: The 1:00pm screening on Tuesday, January 27 has been rescheduled to 6:15pm.
A successful entrepreneur in his forties, a cynical screenwriter in his thirties, and a young man on the cusp of adulthood still living with his parents are brought together by the untimely death of the woman they all love.
When Eugenio vanishes without a clue, his business partner Santiago and his wife Laura join forces to solve the mystery of his disappearance in this wistful comedy—part buddy movie, part detective story, and part romance.
Q&A with David Cairns and Jack Feldstein at both screenings
David Cairns and Paul Duane investigate the life of Bernard Natan, a Romanian Jew who fought for France in World War I and went on to become the head of the innovative and influential Pathé Studios, and the tale they reveal is as unbelievable as it is tragic.
Screening with: How to Break into Yiddish Vaudeville (Jack Feldstein, 19m, World Premiere).
Q&A with William Gazecki and producers Susan and Lloyd Ecker at both screenings
This documentary winds through the many personalities of the “Queen of Vaudeville,” icon Sophie Tucker, capturing all her brassy nonchalance with the help of newly discovered scrapbooks that belonged to the Queen herself.
Q&A with Yossi Aviram on January 15 and Salomea’s Nose director Susan Korda on January 22
Lázló Polgár spent his meager earnings in 1970s communist Budapest grooming his three daughters to become chess champions. This documentary catches up with the three sisters in Hungary, the U.S., and Canada, where their story continues to shock in the press.
Screening with: Salomea’s Nose (Susan Korda, 22m).
Q&A with Amos Gitai at both screenings
Amos Gitai’s adaptation of survivor Aharon Appelfeld’s powerful book gives fresh intimacy and urgency to the story of a young Jewish woman hiding in the Ukrainian forests and subsequent wandering and search for meaning following the war.</p>
Screening with: Back to the Soil (Bill Morrison, 18m).
Unfortunately, producer Filipp Goldscheider will no longer be in person at this screening.
This documentary zooms in on the many rises and falls of a magnificent concrete building in Brno, Czech Republic, one of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s earliest earliest prototypes of modernist architecture in Europe.
Q&A with Joseph Dorman & Oren Rudavsky at both screenings
A feature-length exploration of one of the most influential, controversial, and urgently relevant political ideologies of the modern era, crucially promoting understanding of the meaning, history, and future of the movement.
Please note This screening has been rescheduled for February 24.
A program comprising four short films: German Shepherd (Nils Bergendal, 10m), Longing (Nadav Mishali, 20m), Some Vacation (Anne S. Lewis, 6m), and The Visit (Lawrence Horwitz, 8m).
From the Vaults
New 35mm restoration with live piano accompaniment!
Introduction by film critic Scott Foundas!
Guest Selects: Jennie Livingston
Jennie Livingston’s iconic documentary offers an at once dazzling, dynamic, and intimate portrait of the Harlem drag balls of the 1980s, celebrating how African-American, Latino, gay, and transgender New Yorkers created a world of survival and joy.
Introduction by Jennie Livingston
Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant satire is a provocative black comedy that remains unmatched as a doomsday fantasy of Cold War politics, an unhinged response to the apocalyptic fears of the 1960s.
Introduction by Jennie Livingston
Sophie’s Choice won five Academy Awards in 1982, including Best Actress for Meryl Streep as Sophie, a survivor whose happiness with her Holocaust-obsessed boyfriend is endangered by her ghosts and his compulsions.
This devastatingly entertaining cult classic tells the tale of a struggling jazz dancer who, with the help of street-dancing friends, becomes the new sensation of the crowds—and did more to put spandex on the silver screen than any other single work of art of any discipline.
New York Noir (1945-1948)
Full-fledged noirist Robert Siodmak directed this gritty crime drama, shot mostly on location in New York City, about two childhood best friends who take divergent paths: one becomes a cop; the other, a cop killer.
A twisted tale of espionage in the Big Apple, this first of the so-called “docudramas” to be shot entirely on location, The House on 92nd Street would influence a number of contemporary productions.
Shot entirely on location, The Naked City exposes a raw and menacing New York, from its darkest alleys to its tallest skyscrapers, with blacklisted director Jules Dassin magnificently capturing the city’s street life.
This 1996 adaptation of the iconic French farce La Cage aux Folles, directed by the dearly departed Mike Nichols with an outstanding cast including Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, and Gene Hackman, is just as outrageous, and with a Jewish twist.
War Against War
War Against War is a selection of antiwar films made mostly during the 1950s and 60s. This section of the New York Jewish Film Festival is accompanied by a small exhibition of film posters of historically important antiwar films in the Furman Gallery of the Walter Reade Theater. With wars raging in many parts of the world, from Eastern Europe and the Middle East to East Africa and Central Asia, we seem to live in a time of constant war. Antiwar films have in various ways been able to capture the horrors of war and the physical and mental devastation wrought by war upon both soldiers and civilians. This selection depicts the horrors of war through inner turmoil, surreal plots, and the soul-searching of their characters.
Once banned in France and unquestionably one of the most disturbing and impactful antiwar films of the 1960s, Gillo Pontecorvo’s film is today considered one of the great political films.
Stanley Kubrick’s feature debut and his least-seen work follows a group of soldiers who have survived a plane crash behind enemy lines, lost in a forest while fighting in an unidentified war.
Screening with: The War Game (Peter Warkins, 48m).
A disturbing and often nightmarish adaptation of Shohei Ooka's Fires on the Plain (previously adapted by Kon Ichikawa in 1959) by one of Japanese cinema’s most singular mavericks, Shinya Tsukamoto, who also stars as a private wandering the battlefield alone, sinking deeper into the obscenity of war through a series of encounters with fellow soldiers.
One of the best-known DEFA productions, this autobiographical film follows young Gregor Hecker as he becomes a commander of a small town and later plays a key role in the final run on Berlin.
Perhaps one of the most surreal, grotesque, and disturbing antiwar movies ever made, Godard’s fifth feature follows Ulysses and Michelangelo, two simpleminded peasants who treat joining the army as a license to embark on a crime spree.
Join us for an in-depth conversation on filmmaking with Susan Korda, whose new film Salomea's Nose is included in the Festival. The Master Class begins with a screening of her short film followed by conversation with Aviva Weintraub, Director, New York Jewish Film Festival.
This panel discussion with renowned scholars, activists, artists, and curators continues the dialogue about this urgent topic.
Free event! Click through to reserve tickets.
In conjunction with the World Premiere of Oren Rudavsky and Joseph Dorman’s documentary film The Zionist Idea, we present a panel discussion about this crucial topic with the filmmakers and experts on the subject.
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