The Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center are delighted to continue their partnership to bring you the 28th annual New York Jewish Film Festival, presenting films from around the world that explore the diversity of Jewish experience. This year’s festival features an exciting lineup of documentary, narrative, and short films, including new work by fresh voices in international cinema as well as restored classics.
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, the Polish Cultural Institute New York, the Consulate General of Denmark in New York, Czech Center New York, and Eye International.
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.
Nicola Galliner, Jewish Film Festival Berlin & Brandenburg; Béatrice Godlewicz, Institute of Audiovisual Jewish Memory, Brussels; Eric Goldman, Ergo Media; Stuart Hands, Toronto Jewish Film Festival; Annette Insdorf, Columbia University; Judy Ironside, UK Jewish Film Festival; Marlene Josephs, Volunteer; Linda Lipson, Volunteer; Nicola Mazzanti, Royal Film Archive of Belgium; Joshua Moore, San Francisco Jewish Film Festival; Richard Peña, Columbia University; Ben Rubin, Intern; Eve Sicular; Melissa Tincopa, Intern
Opening Night · Charlotte Gainsbourg in attendance on January 9 · New York PremierePromise at Dawn tells the story of the great Jewish novelist Romain Gary, recounting his impoverished childhood in Poland, his time as a fighter pilot in WWII, and most of all the unyielding love between him and his single mother.
Centerpiece Screening · Q&A with Yehonatan Indursky on January 16 · U.S. PremiereSet in an alternate present where the country is divided between secular Tel Aviv and ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem, this dystopian drama is a boiling cauldron of the issues of identity, religion, politics, and personal freedom that define contemporary Israel. Presented with intermission.
Closing Night · Introduction by Elisabeth Dyssegaard · New York PremiereA gifted but self-destructive young man leaves his suffocating Lutheran upbringing in the country for metropolitan 1880s Copenhagen, where he’s welcomed into a wealthy Jewish family and strives to realize his grand ambitions.
Q&As with director Uri Barbash · New York PremiereThe Russian-born poet Avraham Sutzkever wrote in Yiddish with wit and vitality through the Holocaust, saved hundreds of Jewish manuscripts from destruction, and testified at the Nuremberg trials. His story is a life-affirming exemplar of 20th century Jewish experience.
Q&As with director Maria Victoria Menis and producer Hector MenisShot on location in the lush forests, lagoons, and rivers of Buenos Aires province in a wondrous mélange of visual styles, Camera Obscura tells the story of an immigrant woman whose encounter with an itinerant photographer reveals a sense of self she never knew.
Q&As with Elizabeth Rynecki (joined by Director of Photography Slawomir Grunberg on 1/14) · New York PremiereAfter the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, artist Moshe Rynecki left his collection of more than 800 paintings and sculptures with friends around Warsaw for safekeeping. But after his death in Majdanek, his work was dispersed. This documentary tells the compelling story of his great-granddaughter Elizabeth’s quest to uncover the story of his extraordinary collection.
Introduction by Columbia University Film Professor Annette Insdorf · New York PremiereThis documentary tells the story of Fredy Hirsch, a remarkable openly gay German Jew who fled to the Czech Republic when the Nuremberg Laws were passed, became head of the youth department in the Ghetto Terezin, and set up a daycare center in his final, tragic days in Auschwitz.
New York PremiereIn this beautifully acted drama starring Yael Abecassis and Yoram Toledano, a man suspects his wife of infidelity and records her phone conversations. While he obsessively listens, she tragically dies in a car crash and the recordings become an investigation into a life he thought he knew.
Q&As with Stephane Kaas · U.S. PremiereIsraeli writer Etgar Keret is beloved and renowned for his surreal, delightful short stories. In this quirky portrait, filmmakers Stephane Kaas and Rutger Lemm journey deep into the young writer’s past and motivations.
Q&As with Fig Tree producer Naomi Levari · U.S. PremiereMina is a 16-year-old Jewish girl who has lived in the midst of the Ethiopian Civil War her entire life. As she plans to flee the country for Israel, she attempts to save her Christian boyfriend from the draft.
New York PremiereIt’s the summer of 1939 and Rose, a beautiful young Jewish woman, has three aggressive suitors, a Pole, a Silesian, and a German in an apartment building on the Polish-German border. This enchanting film follows them in their quixotic and comic days leading up to WWII.
Q&As with Oren Rudavsky on January 10 · New York PremiereJoseph Pulitzer began as a penniless Jewish immigrant from Hungary and grew into one of America’s most admired and feared media figures. Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People tells the rare story of the man behind the prize, who spoke of “fake news” and the importance of freedom of the press over a century ago. His New York newspaper The World spoke to an unprecedented number of readers and maintained powerful journalistic ideals through its ascent.
Q&As with Silvia Quer · New York PremiereThe Light of Hope is a compelling drama based on the true story of Elisabeth Eidenbenz, director of the Elne maternity home. Eidenbenz and her female co-workers saved the lives of 600 hundreds of infants during the Spanish Civil War and WWII by providing humane conditions for pregnant women fleeing Vichy refugee camps, as she and her staff risk their lives to keep their maternity home and the women within it safe.
U.S. PremiereAfter the premiere of Bertolt Brecht, Elisabeth Hauptmann, and Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera in 1928, the work seemed destined for the silver screen: Brecht sought to make a socially conscious film, but the studio wanted a crowd pleaser. This fantastical and theatrical satire dramatizes his valiant attempt to adapt his opera to the screen.
Q&A with director Taliya Finkel and Anna Boros’s daughter Carla Greenspan · U.S. PremiereDuring WWII, Mohamed Helmy, an Egyptian doctor living in Berlin, saved a Jewish woman from capture by the Nazis by disguising her as a Muslim woman. This astounding documentary uncovers the many extraordinary maneuvers and deceptions he took to save her life, at great risk to his own.
Q&A with Veronica Gonzalez Peña and Pat Steir · World PremiereA warmly intimate portrait of the groundbreaking painter and feminist, whose life and practice have been enlivened for half a century by her deep friendships and alliances with the most influential artists and poets of her generation.
Q&As with Boaz Yehonatan Yacov · New York PremiereOnce the front man of a popular rock band, Menachem is now deeply religious. When his six-year-old daughter is diagnosed with cancer, he gets the band back together for a reunion tour to pay the bills.
Q&As with Nina Paley · N.Y. PremiereAnimator Nina Paley brings us a wildly playful and imaginative retelling of the Book of Exodus in musical form. The Burning Bush does a rendition of Louis Armstrong and Pharaoh sings “I Will Survive,” among other antics.
U.S. PremiereA young tobacco shop apprentice in Nazi occupied Vienna falls in love with a music hall dancer and turns to Sigmund Freud, a regular customer and unlikely new friend, for advice in this beautifully realized wartime drama starring Bruno Ganz as Sigmund Freud.
Q&As with Ondřej Trojan, co-writer Zdena Simandl, and co-producer Zuzana Mistrikova · U.S. PremiereZdenek Toman is a controversial and singular character in modern Czech politics. Toman tells the story of the unscrupulous careerist and politician who was also the unlikely savior of thousands of Jewish refugees after WWII.
Q&As with Amos Gitai · U.S. PremiereA series of poignant and humorous encounters along the Light Rail Red Line, which connects Jerusalem East to West from Palestinian to Israeli neighborhoods, reveal the city’s diverse mosaic of humanity and offer a kernel of hope for mutual understanding. With Mathieu Amalric.
Q&As with Roberta Grossman, producer Nancy Spielberg, and historian Samuel Kassow on January 17; actor Joan Allen also in attendance for 8:30pm screening · New York PremiereWhen the Nazis created the Warsaw Ghetto, a group of scholars, journalists, and community leaders, led by historian Emanuel Ringelblum, conducted a secret effort to document the fate of the 450,000 Jews sealed within. These testimonies comprise perhaps the most important archive of original material compiled by Jews during the Holocaust.
Musical accompaniment by violinist Alicia Svigals and pianist Donald SosinIn a shtetl in Galicia, the son of a rabbi gets a bug for acting and is swept into a cosmopolitan, glamorous lifestyle, much to the chagrin of his more traditional father. Featuring a new score and live accompaniment by pianist Donald Sosin and klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals.
U.S. Premiere of the restoration · Introduction by film critic J. Hoberman on January 21In one of the first postwar films in Yiddish, director Samy Szlingerbaum masterfully weaves together the dramatic story of his parents’ search for a home and haunting footage of postwar Brussels to explore the marginality of young Holocaust survivors in Europe after the WW-II.
N.Y. Premiere of the restorationThis 1924 silent masterpiece is one of few surviving Austrian Expressionist films and a chilling premonition of the Holocaust. Based on Hugo Bettauer’s dystopian novel of the same name, it follows the rise of the Christian Social Party, which orders all Jews to evacuate Austria.
U.S. Premiere of the restorationIn this touchstone of Israeli cinema, an assortment of Tel Aviv citizenry—Jews, Arabs, kibbutzniks, city-dwellers, and soldiers—gather in a bar to play out a series of bitter and ultimately tragic dramas over the course of one night.
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