On a summer day in 1945, an Orthodox man and his grown son return to a village in Hungary while the villagers prepare for the wedding of the town clerk’s son. The townspeople – suspicious, remorseful, fearful, and cunning – expect the worst and behave accordingly. The town clerk fears the men may be heirs of the village’s deported Jews and expects them to demand their illegally acquired property back.
Directed by Ferenc Török, Hungary, 2017, Hungarian (with English subtitles), 91 minutes
Across the Waters
Unsure of whom they can trust, a Jewish musician and his family make a frantic escape from Nazi-occupied Denmark, in ACROSS THE WATERS, a gripping story of survival and rescue.
Directed by Nicolo Donato, Starring David Dencik, Denmark, 2017, Danish (with English subtitles), Drama, 95 minutes
Franek and Jozek Kalina, sons of a poor farmer, are brothers from a small village in central Poland. Franek immigrated to the United States in the 80’s and cut all ties with his family. Only when Jozek’s wife arrives in the US, without explanation, does Franek finally return to his homeland.
Directed by Władysław Pasikowskiatej, Poland, Holland, Russia, 2013, Polish (with English subtitles), 110 minutes
An Israeli Love Story
Based on the true story of the love affair between Pnina Gary, from Nahalal, and Eli Ben–Zvi, son of Rachel Yanait and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, the second President of the State of Israel.
Director Dan Wolman, Documentary, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2018, 93 minutes
A La Vie
Helene, Lili and Rose met in Auschwitz, where the three twenty-year-old Jewish girls were deported. Thanks to German-speaking Dutch Lili, who was working in the camp kitchen, the two French girls survived. However, after the liberation of the camp, they lost touch. Lili went back to the Netherlands. Rose married a former deportee and settled down in Canada. Helene returned home to France, where she met an old childhood sweetheart, and married him, aware of his impotency caused by sinister doctors carrying out experiments on him in the concentration camp. Determined to find her old companions, Helene puts an ad in a deportees newspaper. Against all odds, the ad is answered, and the women are reunited. The reunion takes place in Berck Plage in the north of France. The women rediscover each other, as well as help each other to overcome their Auschwitz demons.
Director Jean-Jacques Zilbermann, Drama, French (with English subtitles), France, 2014, 104 minutes
Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong
In this sparkling romance, Ruby (Chung), a Chinese American toy designer from LA, visits Hong Kong for the first time on business. Finding herself stranded, she meets Josh (Greenberg), a transplanted Jewish New Yorker working in finance, who shows her the city. Meandering through nighttime streets pulsing with energy and possibility, they fall into a winding and carefree conversation, buoyed by an undeniable attraction. Just as things start to look promising romantically for the pair, the night is stopped short by a surprising revelation.
Director Emily Ting, Comedy, Romance, English, USA, Hong Kong, 2016, 98 minutes
A Jewish Girl in Shanghai
Set mainly in and around the Shanghai Ghetto in Japanese-occupied Shanghai during the Second World War, the film tells the story of three children. Rina and her younger brother Mishalli are Jewish refugees who escaped Europe but are without their parents. A-Gen is a Chinese orphan boy who meets Rina and helps her and her brother to survive. The children form strong friendships and have adventures as they try and fend off the Japanese army occupying the city, and their allies, the Nazis. In the background, the Second Sino-Japanese War takes place, while the children must face the uncertainty that concerns the fate of Rina and Mishalli’s parents in Europe.
Directors Wang Genfa, Zhang Zhenhui, Animation, Mandarin, Hebrew (with English subtitles), China, 2010, 80 minutes
A Mirror for the Sun
Tamar Ariel grew up in a religious home in a moshav in southern Israel. Encouraged to follow her dreams, she did two years of voluntary National Service and then joined the IDF Air Force, where she served as the first-ever Jewish Orthodox combat navigator. In 2014, wishing for new experiences after her military service, she traveled to Nepal. She reached the peak of the Annapurna mountain range with a group of Israeli and international hikers, only to encounter an unexpected snow storm. Tamar and her companions found themselves in a life and death struggle against the elements.
Director Neta Ariel, Documentary, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2018, 60 minutes.
Ben Gurion, Epilogue
The film brings to life a lost interview with of one of the modern history’s greatest leaders, David Ben-Gurion. It is 1968, he is 82 and lives in the desert. Ben-Gurion’s introspective soul-searching provides a surprising vision for crucial decisions Israel needs to make today. At the time of the global leadership crisis, the film also brings thought-provoking insights about the role of leaders in today’s complex world.
Director Yariv Mozer. Documentary, Hebrew, French, Spanish (with English subtitles), Israel, France, 2016. 70 minutes
91-year-old Sonia Warshawski, great-grandmother, businesswoman, and Holocaust survivor, runs the tailor shop she’s owned for more than 30 years. But when she’s served an eviction notice, the specter of retirement prompts Sonia to resist her harrowing past. A poignant story of generational trauma and healing, and a laugh-out-loud portrait of the power of love to triumph over bigotry, and the power of truth-telling to heal us all.
Director Leah Warshawski, Todd Soliday, Documentary, Family, History, English, USA, 2016, 93 minutes
Belle & Sebastian
In 1943, in the French Alps, the orphan Sébastien lives in a small village with his grandfather César, who is a shepherd, and his aunt Angélina, who is a baker. Sébastien misses his mother and believes she has traveled to America. He expects to get a watch with compass as a gift from her. The local Dr. Guillaume is a member of the Frech resistance that helps Jewish refugees to flee to Switzerland and the German Lieutenant Peter and troop are hunting down the resistance. When sheep are found slaughtered, César and the other residents believe that a stray dog that has been abused by his owner is the responsible and hunt it down. Sébastien finds the dog, gives the name of Belle to her and they become friends. But the animal is considered a beast by the inhabitants. Will Sébastien be capable to save Belle?
Director Nicolas Vanier, Adventure, Drama, Family, French, German (with English subtitles), France, 2013, 104 minutes
Beneath the Silence
Israel 1973. Six years after the Six Day War, Menashe is still deeply traumatized by his experiences as a soldier. He withdraws from society and spends hours aimlessly driving around in his red pickup. His young wife Daphna and their 10-year old son Shlomi suffer under his silence and rejection. At a time when PTSD is still not recognized as a medical condition, Daphna struggles to get help from the military. When the Yom Kippur War breaks out and Menashe is sent again to the battlefield, his family threaten to finally fall apart.
Director(s) Erez Mizrahi, Sahar Shavit, Feature, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2018, 106 minutes
In a story that begins with murder and ends with reconciliation, one man persuades the people of Kielce, Poland, to confront the truth about the darkest moment in their past: Kielce was the site of Europe’s last Jewish pogrom – an organized massacre. In 1946, forty holocaust survivors seeking shelter in a downtown building were murdered by townspeople. Communist authorities suppressed the story, leaving the town deeply embittered. Directors Michal Jaskulski, Lawrence Loewinger, Documentary, Polish, Hebrew (with English subtitles), USA, Poland, 2016, 83 minutes
For Bogdan Bialek, a Catholic Pole, anti-Semitism is a sin. This conviction is the animating force of his life. Conflict over the massacre was still a festering wound when Bialek moved to Kielce in the late 70s. He was shocked by the poisoned atmosphere of his new town. Trained as a psychologist, he has made it his life’s work both to persuade people to embrace their past and to reconnect the city with the international Jewish community.
The Hedy Lamarr Story
What do the most ravishingly beautiful actress of the 1930s and 40s and the inventor whose concepts were the basis of cell phone and bluetooth technology have in common? They are both Hedy Lamarr, the glamour icon whose ravishing visage was the inspiration for Snow White and Cat Woman and a technological trailblazer who perfected a radio system to throw Nazi torpedoes off course during WWII. Weaving interviews and clips with never-before-heard audio tapes of Hedy speaking on the record about her incredible life—from her beginnings as an Austrian Jewish emigre to her scandalous nude scene in the 1933 film Ecstasy to her glittering Hollywood life to her ground-breaking, but completely uncredited inventions to her latter years when she became a recluse, impoverished and almost forgotten—BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY brings to light the story of an unusual and accomplished woman, spurned as too beautiful to be smart, but a role model to this day.
Director Alexandra Dean, Documentary, English, USA, 2017, 90 minutes
Breakfast at Ina’s
Ina Pinkney is a Chicago legend of the tastiest kind. Known around town as the “Breakfast Queen”, she has been feeding Chicagoans for the past 33 years – first, out of a small bakery and, most recently, from her beloved breakfast nook in the West Loop. Ina, who survived polio as an infant, now suffers the effects of post-polio syndrome, and made the decision to close the doors of her celebrated establishment at the close of 2013. An undeniably outstanding chef and businesswoman, Ina is so much more. She’s a community leader, a pioneer, a television personality, but most importantly, she’s the rare sort of person who’s found a way to transform her passion into a joy that extends an entire city, and beyond. The documentary, “Breakfast at Ina’s” gives audiences a glimpse into Ina’s extraordinary life, all while chronicling the last days of the restaurant as Ina and her staff serve up its final meals.
Director Mercedes Kane, Documentary, English, USA, 2015, 50 minutes
On April 29, we had a Q&A about the film. View a recording of the event here.
During the 1920s, Café Nagler was the hottest place in Berlin. The director embarks on a journey to find out what’s left of the legendary café owned by her family. After discovering that family myths don’t always match historical facts, she’ll re-create her family’s past together with her Berlin peers.
Director Mor Kaplansky, Documentary, Hebrew, German (with English subtitles), Israel, Germany, 2015, 59 minutes
Chichinette: The Accidental Spy
The untold story of Marthe Cohn, a feisty young woman who joined the French resistance during WWII. After keeping silent for almost 60 years, Marthe now shares the extraordinary story of how she managed to beat the odds and fight the Nazis as a spy. At the age of 98, she still tours the world, showing off her medals and promoting her message to people of all generations. Her harrowing journey is told with reverence, while her joie de vivre shines through, filling the film with hope for the future.
Director Nicola Alice Hens, Documentary, French (with English subtitles), Germany, France, 2019, 86 minutes
Structured through flashback and a German student’s search for his biological father in 1970s Israel, Closed Season is Albert’s story (Christian Friedel): a Jewish boy fleeing Nazi persecution during WWII. Traveling through the mountains of the Black Forest and unable to cross the heavily patrolled Swiss border, he finds shelter with a farmer, Fritz (Hans-Jochen Wagner), and his wife Emma (Brigitte Hobmeier). Fritz and Emma, who have been unable to conceive, propose an unusual arrangement and request Albert father a child with Emma in exchange for continued shelter and protection.
Directed by Franziska Schlotterer, Germany, 2014, German (with English subtitles), Drama. 104 minutes
Based on the acclaimed book Denial: Holocaust History on Trial, the film recounts Deborah E. Lipstadt’s (Academy Award-winning actress, Rachel Weisz) legal battle for historical truth against David Irving (BAFTA nominee, Timothy Spall), who accused her of libel when she declared him a Holocaust denier. In the English legal system, in cases of libel, the burden of proof is on the defendant, therefore it was up to Lipstadt and her legal team, led by Richard Rampton (Academy Award-nominated actor, Tom Wilkinson), to prove the essential truth that the Holocaust occurred.
Director Mick Jackson, Drama, German, Hebrew (with English subtitles), USA, UK, 2016, 109 minutes
Curmudgeonly widower Nat Dayan (Jonathan Pryce) clings to his way of life as a Kosher bakery shop owner in London’s East End. Understaffed, Nat reluctantly enlists the help of teenager Ayyash (Jerome Holder), who has a secret side gig selling marijuana to help his immigrant mother make ends meet. When Ayyash accidentally drops his stash into the mixing dough, the challah starts flying off the shelves and an unlikely friendship forms between the old Jewish baker and his young Muslim apprentice.
UK, 2016, Comedy, English, 94 minutes
Told with heart, humor, and a little bit of magic, Dragonfly is a female led feature film about homecoming and healing for a Midwestern family divided by divorce and illness.
Struggling artist Anna Larsen’s mother has never understood her. When her mom is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, Anna returns home to help but brings years of family baggage with her. As she unpacks her past, Anna rediscovers a mysterious mailbox from her childhood and embarks on a search to solve its mystery. What she learns along the way may just be the key to rekindling her own magic.
Director Maribeth Romslo, Documentary, English, USA, 2016, 76 minutes
Avner suspects his wife Ella of having an affair. Secretly recording her telephone conversations, he turns into a spy in his own home, listening to them again and again. But while searching for one thing, he discovers another – the woman he listens to is a stranger to him, so very different from the one he thought he knew. He tries to understand that woman, to decode their relationship, but the more he knows, the less he understands.
Directors Amikam Kovner, Assaf Snir, Feature, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2018, 98 minutes
82-year-old Elisheva Rise passed away. As her children clear out her home, they find journals she secretly wrote to each of them documenting their lives from their birth until her last day. Every evening she would sit in her kibbutz home and write to her 7 children, whom she had never hugged nor kissed. Following the treasure, she left behind, they embark on an emotional and painful journey, learning about childhood, motherhood, and parenting.
Director Golan Rise, Documentary, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2017, 74 minutes
Yoel and Ewa are long married. One day, Yoel learns to his surprise that he owns property and that one of the tenants knows Ewa well. As he tries to solve the mystery, his life changes forever. A poignant portrait of a moment in life of a couple, when the struggle to share an entire life with a person who is different from you comes to a dramatic edge.
Director Haim Tabakman, Feature, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2016, 89 minutes
Family in Transition
The story of a family in Nahariya, a small traditional town in Israel, whose lives change completely after their father finally decides to tell his family that he’s a transgender woman. Their mother chooses to stay with her spouse through the whole process, but just as it seems that life is back to normal, she takes a sharp turn and shakes everything up again.
Director Ofir Trainin, Documentary, Hebrew (with English subtitles), 2018, 70 minutes
Based on a true story, FANNY’S JOURNEY is an incredible tale of bravery, strength and survival, a story of a daring young girl who will stop at nothing and fear no one. In 1943, 13-year old Fanny and her younger sisters were sent from their home in France to an Italian foster home for Jewish children. When the Nazis arrive in Italy, their caretakers desperately organize the departure of the children to Switzerland. When they are suddenly left on their own, these 11 children do the impossible and reach the Swiss border to freedom.
Directed by Lola Doillon, France/Belgium, 2016, French (with English subtitles), Drama, 94 minutes
Félix and Meira
Félix and Meira is a story of an unconventional romance between two people living vastly different realities mere blocks away from one another. Each lost in their everyday lives, Meira (Hadas Yaron), a Hasidic Jewish wife and mother and Félix (Martin Dubreuil), a Secular loner mourning the recent death of his estranged father, unexpectedly meet in a local bakery in Montreal’s Mile End district. What starts as an innocent friendship becomes more serious as the two wayward strangers find comfort in one another. As Félix opens Meira’s eyes to the world outside of her tight-knit Orthodox community, her desire for change becomes harder for her to ignore, ultimately forcing her to choose: remain in the life that she knows or give it all up to be with Félix. Giroux’s film is a poignant and touching tale of self-discovery set against the backdrops of Montreal, Brooklyn, and Venice, Italy.
Director Maxime Giroux, Drama, Romance, French | Yiddish | Spanish | Hebrew | Italian (with English subtitles), Canada, 2015. 105 minutes
Over the course of a year, a group of women in their 70s and 80s confront the intense demands of the art of dance and refuse to conform to any stereotypes about aging. They open up about their lives, rivalries and sexuality, and share an unquenchable thirst for life, art, and self-expression.
Director Ofer Inov, Documentary, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2011, 54 minutes
GI Jews: Jewish Americans in WWII
The first feature-length documentary for national public television to tell the profound and remarkable story of the 550,000 Jewish Americans who served in World War II. Like all Americans, they fought against fascism, but they also waged a more personal fight—to save their brethren in Europe.
Director Lisa Ades, Documentary, English, USA, 2018, 87 minutes
Fleischmann believed she could stop the Holocaust if only she succeeded to raise enough money. She led a resistance group in Slovakia which tried to stop the transports to Auschwitz by bribing Nazi officials. Her story has been almost forgotten until the Slovak National Theatre staged a play about her. The film follows the creative process of putting on the play, interweaving it with Gisi’s letters, insights of historians and memories of her relatives.
Director Natasha Dudinski, Documentary, Slovak, Czech, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic (Slovakia), United States, 2014, 62 minutes
Every week, 10 elderly gays gather in a room lighten by neon lights in the LGBT Center of Tel-Aviv. Being part of a community that sanctifies youth, this intimate space is these old gays last and only shelter, where they can age and deal with aging openly: from sexuality and body image at old age, to loneliness and to the member’s condition as widowers, divorcees and-or grandparents. Instead of the typical sociological and biographical documentation, the movie follows these witty seniors and their funny dialogues in the room and gives a humoristic glimpse to the ruthless process of aging.
Director Revital Gal, Documentary, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2016, 56 minutes
Good Morning Son
A young IDF soldier critically injured during a Gaza military operation, clings to life while his family maintains a bedside vigil, in the sensitive Israeli drama. Sharon Bar-Ziv writes, directs and stars in this intimate chamber ensemble, playing anxious father David whose son Ori lies comatose in a hospital bed, hovering between life and death. David and his wife Naomi (Keren Mor) rarely leave Ori’s side, speaking softly to him, praying and watching for any sign of improvement. During the long wait, family, friends, doctors and therapists struggle to temper expectations and cope with the strain of the situation that sees moments of heartbreak, humor and hope. This beautifully rendered story of human resilience offers insight into the ordeal faced by military families in Israel and throughout the world.
Director Sharon Bar-Ziv, Feature, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2018, 84 minutes
Hagiga: The Story of Israeli Cinema
This milestone documentary series challenges the way we think about the history of Israeli cinema. Combining hundreds of interviews captured over two years with rare archival footage from behind the cameras, the series follows Israeli cinema from the 1960s up to these days, investigates the key figures of Israeli cinema and their films.
Director Noit Geva. Documentary, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel. 2017, 2 parts – each 73 minutes
A biopic of the influential German-Jewish philosopher and political theorist. Arendt’s reporting on the 1961 trial of ex-Nazi Adolf Eichmann in The New Yorker—controversial both for her portrayal of Eichmannand the Jewish councils—introduced her now-famous concept of the “Banality of Evil.” Using footage from the actual Eichmann trial and weaving a narrative that spans three countries, von Trotta beautifully turns the often-invisible passion for thought into immersive, dramatic cinema.
Director Margarethe von Trotta, Documentary, German (with English subtitles), Germany, 2012, 113 minutes
Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel
A stirring story of sports, patriotism and personal growth, Heading Home charts the underdog journey of Israel’s national baseball team competing for the first time in the World Baseball Classic. After years of defeat, Team Israel is finally ranked among the world’s best in 2017, eligible to compete in the prestigious international tournament. Their line-up included several Jewish American Major League players―Ike Davis, Josh Zeid and ex-Braves catcher Ryan Lavarnway―most with a tenuous relationship to Judaism, let alone having ever set foot in Israel. Their odyssey takes them from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem where they are greeted as heroes, to Seoul where they must debunk their has-been, wannabe reputations. With their Mensch on the Bench mascot by their side, the team laughs, cries, and does much soul-searching, discovering the pride of representing Israel on the world stage.
Directed by Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, and Jeremy Newberger, USA / Israel / Japan / South Korea, 2018, Documentary, English, 86 minutes
On April 6, we had a Q&A about the film. View a recording of the event here.
Heather Booth: Changing the World
The newest film by critically acclaimed filmmaker Lilly Rivlin is an inspiring look at how social change happens. Booth, a renowned organizer and activist, began her remarkable career at the height of the Civil Rights movement. Looking at Booth’s life, work and personal relationship with respected leaders such as Julian Bond and Senator Elizabeth Warren, the film explores the most pivotal moments in progressive movements that altered our history over the last fifty years.
Director Lilly Rivlin, Documentary, English, USA, 2016, 60 minutes
Hope I’m In The Frame
Michal Bat-Adam was the first Israeli woman film director and the only one who has been creating films since 1970s. The intimate portrait of the trailblazing filmmaker follows her shooting a new low-budget film while exploring her relationship with her husband of 40 years, the film director Moshe Mizrahi, as they share the struggle to make films despite aging and the establishment’s rejection.
Director(s) Netalie Braun, Documentary, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2017, 57 minutes
A struggling playwright is forced to move in with his joke-telling dad in a New Jersey retirement community and learns, as his father often says, “life’s going to happen, whether you smile or not.” Featuring Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Concords), Elliott Gould (MASH, The Long Goodbye), Bebe Neuwirth (Cheers), Annie Potts (Ghostbusters, Pretty in Pink) and singer Ingrid Michaelson.
Director Sam Hoffman, Comedy, English, USA, 2018, 85 minutes
Hummus! The Movie
Hummus – the delicious, nutritious superfood sweeping America – has the power to bring Muslims, Christians and Jews together… in the Middle East, America and around the world. Hummus – an Arabic word meaning ‘chickpeas’ (its main ingredient) – is claimed by all and owned by none.
In Hummus! The Movie we meet three main characters – a hard working Muslim woman, an ever-smiling Jew and a young Christian Arab on a restless quest for meaning. But despite their historical and cultural differences they all have one thing in common… a passionate love of Hummus!
Director Oren Rosenfeld, Documentary, Hebrew, Arabic (with English subtitles), Israel, USA, 2016, 70 minutes
On April 30, we had a Q&A about the film. View a recording of the event here.
Dana and Amit got to know each other at the age of 25. Two years later, they got married. Shortly before the birth of their second child, Amit becomes religious. Can their love overcome the growing gap between their ways of life?
Directors David Ofek & Neta Shoshani, Documentary, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2014, 45 minutes
In Search of Israeli Cuisine
In Search of Israeli Cuisine is a portrait of the Israeli people told through food. It puts a literal face on the culture of Israel. Profiling chefs, home cooks, farmers, vintners, and cheese makers drawn from the more than 100 cultures that make up Israel today – Jewish, Arab, Muslim, Christian, Druze a rich, complex and human story emerges.
Directed by Roger Sherman, USA, 2016, English, Documentary, 94 minutes
Set in 1951, the story follows Marcus Messner, the idealistic son of a humble kosher butcher from Newark, N.J. Marcus leaves for Ohio to study at a small, conservative college, where he finds himself at odds with the administration, grapples with anti-Semitism and sexual repression and pines after a troubled girl.
Director James Schamus, Drama, Germany, Luxembourg, France, Israel, German, French, Hebrew and Latin (with English subtitles), 2016, 110 minutes
Insatiable: The Homaro Cantu Story
At the age of 27, innovative chef and inventor Homaro Cantu helped put Chicago on the culinary map when he opened “Moto,” a Michelin-starred avant-garde restaurant in the city’s untapped Fulton Market meatpacking district. Virtually overnight, Cantu rose to the rank of celebrity chef and became famous for his “molecular gastronomy” approach to cooking. Cantu’s meteoric rise to fame masked an early life of poverty, homelessness, and even physical and emotional abuse. At the height of his fame in 2015, during production of this documentary, Cantu took his own life.
Director Brett A Schwartz, Documentary, English, USA, 2016, 98 minutes
Inside Hana’s Suitcase
The delivery of a battered suitcase to Fumiko Ishioka at the Tokyo Holocaust Museum begins the true-life mystery that became the subject of Karen Levineʼs best-selling book Hanaʼs Suitcase. The suitcase came from the Auschwitz Museum and had Hana Bradyʼs name painted on it. Larry Weinsteinʼs masterful film follows Fumikoʼs search to discover the details of Hanaʼs life, which leads to the discovery of her brother George in Toronto. The voices of children from Japan, Canada, and the Czech Republic telling Hanaʼs story are woven around the drama, along with Georgeʼs memories and Fumikoʼs quest, to create a film of astonishing power and hope.
Directed by Larry Weinstein, Documentary, Canada, 2011, English, 90 minutes
Into the North
A group of Czech Jewish teenagers sets out on a journey to the North. Without their parents to look after them, they must rely on each other. That’s how their great adventure starts. They spend four years in Denmark, an oasis in the midst of raging WWII. More than seventy years later, they are ready to tell their story, a coming-of-age refugee story with a happy end, courtesy of thousands of openhearted Danes.
Director Natasha Dudinski, Documentary, Hebrew, Czech (with English subtitles), Israel, 2015, 89 minutes
It Happened in Saint-Tropez
Zef’s dear wife dies in an accident just as Roni, his wealthy brother, marries his daughter. When the widower arrives with the coffin containing his wife’s body right in the middle of the preparations for the wedding feast, he naturally casts a chill. The tensions between the two brothers who have diametrically opposed characters soon aggravate. All is a pretext for conflict, occupations, women, religion…
Director Danièle Thompson, Comedy, Romance, French, Italian (with English subtitles), France, 2013, 100 minutes
Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind the Clown
Since the early days, Jerry Lewis – in the line of Chaplin, Keaton and Laurel – had the masses laughing with his visual gags, pantomime sketches and signature slapstick humor. Yet Lewis was far more than just a clown. He was also a groundbreaking filmmaker whose unquenchable curiosity led him to write, produce, stage and direct many of the films he appeared in. By becoming a “total filmmaker,” Lewis surpassed expectations as a comic performer and emerged as a driving force in Hollywood. He broke boundaries with his technical innovations, unique voice and keen visual eye, even garnering respect and praise overseas.
Director Gregory Monro, France, USA, English, 60 minutes
As vice-president of Hungary’s far-right extremist party, Csanad Szegedi espoused anti-Semitic rhetoric and Holocaust denials, and founded the Hungarian Guard, a now-banned militia inspired by a pro-Nazi group complicit in the murder of thousands of Jews during WWII. But his life was soon upended when Szegedi’s maternal grandparents were revealed to be Jewish and his beloved grandmother an Auschwitz survivor who had hidden her faith, fearing further persecution. Keep Quiet depicts Szegedi’s three-year journey to embrace his newfound religion. But is his transformation genuine? Or does he simply have nowhere else to turn?
Directors Sam Blair and Joseph Martin, Documentary, Hungarian (with English subtitles), UK, Hungary, 2016, 92 minutes
Keep the Change
When aspiring filmmaker David (Brandon Polansky) is mandated by a judge to attend a social program at the Jewish Community Center, he is sure of one thing: he doesn’t belong there. But when he’s assigned to visit the Brooklyn Bridge with the vivacious Sarah (Samantha Elisofon), sparks fly and his convictions are tested. Their budding relationship must weather Sarah’s romantic past, David’s judgmental mother (Jessica Walter), and their own pre-conceptions of what love is supposed to look like. Under the guise of an off-kilter New York romantic comedy, Keep the Change does something quite radical in casting actors with autism to play characters with autism, offering a refreshingly honest portrait of a community seldom depicted on the big screen. Rarely has a romcom felt so deep and poignant. Thoroughly charming and quite funny, the film’s warmth and candor brings growth and transformation to the characters, and ultimately, to us.
Director Rachel Israel, Romantic Comedy, English, USA, 2018, 85 minutes
In picturesque Montmarte, three children wearing a yellow star play in the streets, oblivious to the darkness spreading over Nazi-occupied France. Their parents do not seem too concerned either, somehow putting their trust in the Vichy Government. But beyond this view, much is going on. Hitler demands that the French government round up its Jews and put them on trains for the extermination camps in the East. The collaborators start to put the plan into effect and within a short time, 13,000 of Paris’s Jews, among them 4,000 children, will be rounded up and sent on a road with no return.
Directed by Roselyne Bosch, France, 2012, French, German, Yiddish (with English subtitles), 124 minutes
Let Yourself Go
Elia (Toni Servillo, “The Great Beauty”) is a Jewish psychoanalyst from a purely Freudian school of thought. Due to his austere and detached manner, he is reputed for immediately generating awe in his patients. Elia lives alone in a flat on the same floor as his ex-wife Giovanna, with whom he is still secretly in love. After a minor illness, his doctor prescribes an iron-rich diet and physical activity to lose a few extra kilos. That is how he chances upon Claudia, a personal trainer with the cult of physique but clearly not of mind.
Directed by Francesco Amato, Italy, 2017, Italian (with English subtitles), Comedy, 112 minutes
Life, Animated is the inspirational story of Owen Suskind, a young man who was unable to speak as a child until he and his family discovered a unique way to communicate by immersing themselves in the world of classic Disney animated films. This emotional coming-of-age story follows Owen as he graduates to adulthood and takes his first steps toward independence. The subject of his father Ron Suskind’s New York Times bestseller, Owen was a thriving three-year-old who suddenly and inexplicably went silent – and for years after remained unable to connect with other people or to convey his thoughts, feelings or desires. Over time, through repeated viewings of Disney classics like THE LITTLE MERMAID and THE LION KING, Owen found useful tools to help him to understand complex social cues and to re-connect with the world around him.
Director Roger Ross Williams, Documentary, English, USA, 2016, 91 minutes
Little White Lie
What defines our identity, our family of origin or the family that raises us? How do we come to terms with the sins and mistakes of our parents? Little White Lie tells Lacey Schwartz’s story of growing up in a typical upper-middle-class Jewish household in Woodstock, NY, with loving parents and a strong sense of her Jewish identity — despite the open questions from those around her about how a white girl could have such dark skin. She believes her family’s explanation, but when her parents abruptly split, her gut starts to tell her something different. When her biological father dies shortly before Lacey’s 30th birthday, the family secret can stay hidden no longer. Lacey begins a quest to reconcile the hidden pieces of her life.
Director Lacey Schwartz, James Adolphus, Documentary, Biography, Drama, English, USA, 2014, 65 minutes
Look at Us Now, Mother!
Look at Us Now, Mother! is about the transformation of a highly charged mother/daughter relationship from Mommie Dearest to Dear Mom, from hatred to love, as told through the filmmaker’s story. The film is an unflinching look at the complex bond between mother and daughter. Told through biting humor and raw honesty, this is an intimate story about family dysfunctions and forgiveness.
Director Gayle Kirschenbaum, English, USA, 2016, 83 minutes
Moon in the 12th House
An engrossing psychological drama featuring two young sisters who are torn apart by the aftermath of a traumatic family secret. Packed with well-paced tension and with beautiful performances from the two lead actresses, the contrast between the raucous nightlife scene of Tel Aviv and the idyllic countryside home of the two girls creates an effective backdrop for this intriguing tale of simmering, unresolved tensions and damaged family life.
Director Dorit Hakim, Drama, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2016, 110 minutes
Jacob Kaplan lives an ordinary life in Uruguay. Like many of his other Jewish friends, Jacob fled Europe for South America because of World War II. But now turning 76, he’s become rather grumpy, fed up with his community and his family’s lack of interest in its own heritage. One beach bar may, however, provide him with an unexpected opportunity to achieve greatness and recover his family’s respect in the community: its owner, a quiet, elderly German, raises Mr. Kaplan suspicion of being a runaway Nazi.
Directed by Álvaro Brechner, Uruguay, Spain, Germany, 2014, Spanish (with English subtitles), 98 minutes
Poland, 1960’s. 10-year-old Tadek and his brother are part of an anti-Semitic gang. When they are arrested, their mother, a Holocaust survivor, has no choice but to reveal that though raised as Catholics, they are in fact Jews. Telling the younger boy they are going to Australia, the land of his fantasies, the family boards a ship to Israel. This tender and humorous drama is based on the filmmaker’s own experiences.
Director Ami Drozd, Feature, Hebrew, Polish (with English subtitles), Israel, Poland, 2011, 100 minutes
No Place on Earth
The remarkable true story of 38 men, women and children who slide down a cold, muddy hole in the ground, seeking refuge from the war. These five Ukrainian Jewish families created their own society, surviving underground longer than anyone in recorded history. After 511 days, they emerged in tattered clothes, blinded by a sun some children forgot existed. Despite all odds, they had survived.
Director Janet Tobias, Documentary, German, Yiddish (with English subtitles), UK, Germany, USA, 2013, 83 minutes
Once in a Lifetime
A dedicated history teacher at a French high school, Anne Gueguen (Ariane Ascaride), is determined to give the best education she can to her underprivileged inner-city pupils. Overcoming their apathy, however, is proving to be more difficult than expected. Frustrated but undaunted, Anne tests her multicultural classroom with a unique assignment: a national competition on the theme of child victims of the Nazi concentration camps. The project is initially met with extreme resistance, until a face-to-face encounter with a Holocaust survivor changes the students’ attitudes dramatically. Once in A Lifetime demonstrates the enduring impact of the Holocaust in transforming future generations.
Directed by Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar, France, 2016, Language: French, Drama, 105 minutes
Leningrad, 1970. A group of young Russian Jewish dissidents’ plots to hijack an empty plane and flee the USSR. Caught by the KGB, two of them were sentenced to death and the rest were sent to the Gulag forced-labor camp. 45 years later, filmmaker Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov reveals the compelling story of her parents, regarded as “heroes” in the West and “terrorists” in Russia.
Director Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov, Documentary, Hebrew, Russian (with English subtitles, Israel, Latvia, 2016, 63 minutes
Synopsis: FRISCO KID meets PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT. On a road trip like no other ultra-Orthodox Chassidic Rabbis hit the Aussie bush looking for ‘lost Jews’. Leaving the comfort of Melbourne Jewish life, two Rabbis and their families are heading into the heart of Australia on a journey filled with surprising and emotional encounters with Aussie outback characters and laced with Jewish wit, music and culture.
Director Danny Ben-Moshe, Documentary, Australia, 2019, 52 minutes.
Gili and Yaara decide to leave the city and have a fresh start, building a house in the countryside of the Galilee. But while their dream house is being built, the foundations of their relationship slowly collapse.
Director Asaf Saban, Feature, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2017, 80 minutes
Praise the Lard
Pork. It’s the Jewish religion’s biggest taboo and one of Israel’s most controversial issues. Told in a humorous tone, Praise the Lard follows the quirky story of how a simple farm animal became a symbol of freedom for secular Israelis and an existential threat to the religious.
Director Chen Shelach, Documentary, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2017, 60 minutes
Projections of America
Academy Award-winning screenwriter Robert Riskin headed up a secret film unit that sought to redefine America in the eyes of the world during the darkest days of World War II. The filmmakers created powerful short documentaries that showed America’s strength not through images of tanks, but in portraits of farmers, school children and window washers. The “Projections of America” films were brilliant, moving portraits of America that were unlike any films ever made before, but seventy years later they are forgotten, hidden away in government archives. Narrated by John Lithgow, PROJECTIONS OF AMERICA tells the dramatic story of Riskin and his team, and the risks they took to project a profoundly democratic vision of the nation that would soon emerge as the most powerful on earth.
Director Peter Miller, Documentary, German, French (with English subtitles), Germany, USA, France, 2015, 52 minutes
Rabin In His Own Words
Rabin In His Own Words is an “autobiography” of sorts, the story is told entirely in Rabin’s own voice. Through a combination of rare archival footage, home movies and private letters, his personal and professional dramas unfold before the viewer’s eyes – from his childhood as the son of a labor leader before the founding of the State of Israel, through a change of viewpoint that turned him from a farmer into an army man who stood at some of the most critical junctures in Israeli history, through his later years during which he served as Prime Minister and made moves that enraged a large portion of the public, until the horrific moment when his political career and life were suddenly brought to an end.
Directed by Erez Laufer, Israel, 2016, Hebrew, Documentary, 100 minutes
Meseganio Tadela is an obstinate man. He immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia with his family 28 years ago and chose to zealously retain his Ethiopian culture. He belongs to a rapidly disappearing generation. Tadela sets out on a journey through his children’s homes after losing his wife. Coming to know some of life’s harsh new realities, he tries to survive in his own way.
Director Bazzi Gete, Feature, Hebrew, Amharic (with English subtitles), Israel, 2014, 80 minutes
Remember Baghdad reveals the untold story of Iraq, told through the eyes of the Jews, Iraq’s first wave of refugees. After 2,600 years living peacefully in the area, in one generation the community vanishes. using vivid testimony, home movies and news archive, we follow the lives of four families trying to make sense of turbulent times.
Director(s)Fiona Murphy, Documentary, Hebrew, Arabic (with English subtitles), Great Britain, 2017, 69 minutes
A triangle of fatherhood ties, a triangle of love. 70-year-old Yaakov Fidelman (Sasson Gabai, The Band’s Visit) hangs on with all his might to the antique restoration workshop which has been his life’s work. After his long-time business partner passes away, Fidelman rejects his son Noah’s idea to close the business and build an apartment complex on the site. He believes that with the help of his new apprentice Anton, he’ll find a way to save his workshop, his world and his solitary way of life.
Directed by Joseph Madmoney, Israel, 2012, Hebrew (with English subtitles), 105 minutes
In these divided times, religious institutions are losing young members and even closing their doors at an alarming rate. This film is the beautiful true story of hope as a treasured local temple near demise, is lifted up by a community’s determination to achieve the impossible.
Director Aaron Wolf, Documentary, English, USA, 2016, 78 minutes
Run Boy Run
A superlative saga of courage and compassion, Run Boy Run tells the extraordinary true story of a young Polish boy’s struggle to outlast the Nazi occupation and maintain his Jewish faith through his intrepid will and the kindness of others. Escaping the Warsaw ghetto at the behest of his father, nine-year old Srulik (movingly portrayed by twins Andrzej and Kamil Tkacz) flees to the woods. There, he learns to hide from SS patrols and scour for food, until loneliness and the harsh onset of winter drive him back to civilization. An unforgettable cinematic experience featuring exceptional performances, arresting cinematography and a transcendent musical score, Run Boy Run is directed by Oscar-winner Pepe Danquart and based on the bestselling novel by Israeli author Uri Orlev.
Directed by Pepe Danquart, Germany, 2014, Polish, German, Russian, Yiddish (wish English subtitles), Drama, 107 minutes
Saving the Hermans
The Hermans with their three children set off on an adventurous trip from Thailand to Laos, Cambodia, China, Kazakhstan and from there along the Silk Road to Cyprus. Their journey is a fulfillment of a dream and a chance to save their marriage. They fight and quarrel, laugh and cry. They meet exotic cultures, pass through breathtaking landscapes and experience hair-raising adventures; they hate, and they love. Will they find out what’s the meaning of home and family?
Director Gilad Goldschmidt, Documentary, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2017, 86 minutes
Seed: The Untold Story
Few things on Earth are as miraculous and vital as seeds. Worshipped and treasured since the dawn of humankind. SEED: The Untold Story follows passionate seed keepers protecting our 12,000 year-old food legacy. In the last century, 94% of our seed varieties have disappeared. As biotech chemical companies control the majority of our seeds, farmers, scientists, lawyers, and indigenous seed keepers fight a David and Goliath battle to defend the future of our food. In a harrowing and heartening story, these reluctant heroes rekindle a lost connection to our most treasured resource and revive a culture connected to seeds.
Directors Taggart Siegel, Jon Betz, Documentary, English, USA, 2016, 94 minutes
A celebration of the all-singing, all-dancing history of the world’s largest film industry, Shalom Bollywood reveals the unlikely story of the 2000-year-old Indian Jewish community and its formative place in shaping the world’s largest film industry. At the advent of the Indian cinema industry, it was taboo for Hindu and Islamic women to perform on-screen. Indian Jewish women took upon the female lead roles and continued to do so for decades. Using stage names, the women weren’t obviously identified as Jewish, and were commonly thought to be Christian or Muslim.
Directed by Danny Ben-Moshe, Australia, 2018, English, Documentary, 85 minutes
Thursday, June 11
8pm EDT | 7pm CDT | 5pm PDT
Join Moderator Aaron Masliansky the Producer and Host of the podcast, “Inside the Skev,” which is an exploration of the stories and life of the people and places of Skokie and Evanston, Illinois, a community rich in history, culture, and diversity.
Aaron will be joined by documentary film maker and associate professor at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, Danny Ben-Moshe. Danny has produced and directed several critically praised documentaries including My Mother’s Lost Children which was shown during the 2018 JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival.
Three Italian Jewish brothers set off on a journey through Tuscany in search of a cave in which they hid as children to escape the Nazis. Their quest, full of humor, food and Tuscan landscapes, straddles the boundary between history and myth, the result of which is a profound portrait of memory and history.
Director Tamar Tal Anati, Documentary, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2016, 70 minutes
“Shoelaces” tells the story of a complicated relationship between an aging father and his special-needs son, whom he abandoned while he was still a young boy. Reuben’s (60) kidney’s are failing and his son Gadi (35), wants to donate one of his own kidney’s to help save his father’s life. However, the transplant committee objects to the procedure claiming that Rueben, acting as Gadi’s sole legal guardian, does not have the right to authorize such an invasive procedure. Gadi, who recently lost his mother, is afraid of losing his father as well. He feels he finally has the chance to do something meaningful; to become a man and stand on his own. He’s furious with the committee’s decision and sets out to fight for his right to save his father’s life. Through the film’s portrayal of a relationship full of love, rejection and co-dependency, it manages to shed some light and question the importance of human life, human connection and if life is even possible without it either one of them.
Directed by Jacob Goldwasser, Drama, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2018, 90 minutes
Monday, July 6
Noon EDT | 11:00am CDT | 9:00am PDT
Join Keshet Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Phillips as she discusses Shoelaces with filmmaker Yankul Goldwasser.
Jennifer Phillips began her career with Keshet in 1994 as a one-on-one summer camp counselor. This experience motivated her to become a special education teacher and she spent seven years teaching in the Deerfield Public Schools. In 2005, she returned to Keshet as a high school teacher, a position she held for 11 years. As the Director of Recreation, Jen was responsible for 340% growth in enrollment in Keshet’s camp and recreation programs over four years. She was the first person to hold the position of Chief Program Officer for Keshet and has recently been named CEO of the organization.
Yankul Goldwasser is an Israeli filmmaker. In his statement about this film he says, “Shoelaces” is a special project for me. As a father of a special needs son, I never felt that the depiction of special needs characters on film rang true. However, when I saw Nevo Kimchi’s work, I was dumbfounded. He created a special needs character, who was human and real, filled with humor, optimism and charm.”
Four Israeli startup teams sacrifice their families, their friends, and their bank accounts to pursue their startup dreams. Throughout their journey, we catch an intimate and exciting glance on how the ‘High-Tech Nation’ really works.
Directors Daniel Sivan, Yossi Bloch, Documentary, Hebrew (with English subtitles) Israel, US, 2014, 82 minutes
Standing Up, Falling Down
In the refreshingly original Standing Up, Falling Down, Crystal plays decidedly against type. Set in the present day, the film centers around an aspiring comedian named Scott, played charmingly by rising-star comedian Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation). Having failed to launch in Los Angeles, Scott has reluctantly moved back in with his parents in Long Island. Well into his 30s, he struggles to reconnect with childhood friends who have moved into adulthood without him. Feeling abandoned and lonely, he strikes up an unlikely friendship with Marty, his much older dermatologist, played by Crystal.
Director Matt Ratner, Comedy, Family, English, USA, 2019, 91 minutes
Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream
For more than 90 years, the Streit’s matzo factory sat in a low-slung tenement building on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. While other matzo companies modernized, Streit’s remained a piece of living history, churning out 40 percent of the nation’s unleavened bread on pre-War machinery as old as the factory itself. In a neighborhood where the Jewish immigrants long ago moved on, in a nation where progress and profits trump all else, where manufacturing has left the cities if not the country, where family businesses are bought out by giant corporations and workers move from job to low paying job, filmmaker Michael Levine captures the Streit’s saga and echoes the American Dream.
Directed by Michael Levine, USA, 2016, English, Documentary, 83 minutes
The relationship between father (Jack) and son deepens as they return to Poland, where Eli learns more about the extended family that perished during the Shoah. Together they retrace the painful and debilitating journey through two ghettos and two concentration camps.
Directors Blair Gershkow and Eli Adler, Documentary, English, USA, 2015, 66 minutes
On April 22, we had a Q&A about the film. View a recording of the event here.
I’m 12 years old, and I have spent the last 12 + months working on a film to educate people about what it’s like to have life threatening food allergies. I offer the unique perspective of a child and most of my interviewees are also kids. Eating is enjoyed by everyone, but for 8% of the earth’s population, it can be an inescapable nightmare. The food allergy epidemic is quickly rising and hundreds of people a year are dying from food allergies. If you suffer from a food allergy, you literally put your life into the hands of hosts, waiters, caregivers, friends and family everyday. The movie explores why having food allergies can be scary, intimidating, isolating, embarrassing, frightening, confusing, annoying, and of course, frustrating.
Director Jack Graydon Yonover, Documentary, English, USA, 2015, 45 minutes
On May 5, we had a Q&A about the film. View a recording of the event here.
The Art Dealer
This new drama from renowned French director François Margolin (The Flight of the Red Balloon) follows a Jewish woman who embarks on a journey to recover family paintings stolen by the Nazis. During her investigation, she discovers some family secrets are best kept hidden. Anna Sigalevitch, best known for her work in The Piano Teacher, Flight of the Red Balloon and Belle Epíne, gives another captivating performance as a desperate woman searching for the truth in a past shrouded in mystery. Completing this stellar French cast are François Berléand (The Transporter series), Louis-Do de Lencquesaing (Father of My Children, 2009) and Michel Bouquet (Renoir, 2012).
Directed by François Margolin, France, 2015, French (with English subtitles), 95 minutes
Thomas, a German baker, is having an affair with Oren, an Israeli married man who has frequent business visits in Berlin. When Oren dies, Thomas travels to Jerusalem seeking answers. Under a fabricated identity, Thomas infiltrates the life of Anat, his lover’s newly widowed wife. Thomas finds himself involved in Anat’s life in a way far beyond his anticipation, and to protect the truth he will stretch his lie to a point of no return.
Director Ofir Raul Graizer, Drama, Hebrew, German (with English subtitles), Israel, Germany, 2017, 105 minutes
In his film debut, Tony-nominated theater director David Leveaux assembles an all-star cast for this WWII period piece about a German soldier who must make the ultimate choice between honoring his country and following his heart. Nazi captain Stefan Brandt (Jai Courtney) is sent on a mission to the palatial estate of exiled German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II (Christopher Plummer). Searching for a suspected British spy lurking among the staff, Brandt finds himself drawn into a clandestine romance with one of the Kaiser’s chambermaids, Mieke (Lily James), who harbors a secret identity.
Director David Leveaux, Drama, English, UK, USA, 2017, 107 minutes
The Guys Next Door
Meet Erik and Sandro, a gay married couple whose friend, Rachel, is a surrogate for their two daughters. Rachel, who is in her 40s, is married to Tony and they have three children. Together, they form a unique extended family. Elegantly shot and edited, and told with candor and humor, this an inspiring story of family, friendship and gay rights.
Directors Amy Geller, Allie Humenuk, Documentary, LGBTQ, English, USA, Italy, 2016, 74 minutes
The Homestretch follows three homeless teens as they fight to stay in school, graduate, and build a future. Each of these smart, ambitious teenagers – Roque, Kasey and Anthony – will surprise, inspire, and challenge audiences to rethink stereotypes of homelessness as they work to complete their education while facing the trauma of being alone and abandoned at an early age. Mild language.
Director/Producer: Danny Dewes, Documentary, USA, 2014, 90 minutes
The Hunting Ground
From the makers of The Invisible War (2012) comes a startling exposé of rape crimes on U.S. college campuses, their institutional cover-ups and the devastating toll they take on students and their families. Weaving together verité footage and first-person testimonies, the film follows the lives of several undergraduate assault survivors as they attempt to pursue – despite incredible push back, harassment, and traumatic aftermath – both their education and justice.
Director Kirby Dick, Documentary, USA, 2016, 103 minutes
A dark story which took place in Argentina in the early 20th century. The “Impure” was how the Argentinian Jewish pimps were called by the “normal” Jewish community. They were vicious organization leaders and brothel owners who practiced religious lives while trafficking thousands of unfortunate Eastern-European Jewish women. One of them was the director’s relative.
Director Daniel Najenson, Documentary, Hebrew, Spanish, Yiddish (with English subtitles), Israel, Argentina, 2017, 69 minutes
An 80-year-old translator, Ali Ungár, comes across a book written by a former SS officer recounting his war experiences in Slovakia. Ali realizes that one of the chapters may well describe his own parents’ execution. And so, armed with a pistol, he sets off to Vienna to look for the SS man and take his revenge. But once there, the only person he encounters is the man’s 70-year-old son Georg, a former teacher who has spent his whole life avoiding his father and suffering from an addiction to alcohol. Oscillating between comedy and tragedy, Martin Šulík’s road movie focuses on two old men weighed down by the unresolved conflicts that have plagued their lives who are now trying to free themselves from this oppressive burden.
Directed by Martin Šulík, Slovak Republic/Czech Republic Austria, 2018, Drama/Comedy, German/Slovakian (with English subtitles), 114 minutes
While Nazi propaganda minister Josef Goebbels infamously declared Berlin “free of Jews” in 1943, 1,700 Jewish Berliners managed to survive in the Nazi capital. This gripping docudrama traces the true stories of four young people who learned to hide in plain sight. A testament to the resourcefulness, willpower and sheer chance needed to survive against incredible odds.
Director Claus Räfle, Drama, Documentary, Suspense, German (with English subtitles), Germany, 2019, 110 minutes
The Light of Hope
In the early 1940’s, refugees from all over Europe seek shelter in South Western France, escaping persecution from the Nazis and from Franco’s regime in Spain. Among them, there are countless women, some of them pregnant, and their little children. The camps are in horrendous shape with refugees holding out with no protection from the cold. With no further ado, young Red Cross nurse Elisabeth Eidenbenz breathes new life into an old villa. By transforming it into a birth clinic she saves the lives of mothers and children from certain death. Despite all hardship, the villa becomes a safe haven resounding with the children’s laughter. But soon threats from without and within take shape: Authorities in Nazi-occupied France demand that she hand over all Jewish refugees and their children, while Elisabeth’s deputy Victoria sides with the Résistance partisans – a worthy cause but one that puts at stake the lives of everyone in the maternity.
Directed by Silvia Quer, Spain, 2018, Drama, Spanish, Catalan, French (with English subtitles), 96 minutes
Arik, a teenage boy growing up in Haifa in 1968, gets a job working for Yankele Bride, a matchmaker. Yankele, a mysterious Holocaust survivor, has an office in back of a movie theater that shows only love stories, run by a family of seven Romanian dwarves in the seedy area by the port. Yankele introduces Arik to a new world, built on the ruins of an old one. As Arik begins to learn the mysteries of the human heart through his work with Yankele, he falls in love with Tamara, his friend Beni’s cousin. Tamara has just returned from America and is full of talk of women’s rights, free love and rock and roll. The disparate parts of Arik’s life collide in unexpected, often funny and very moving ways as he lives through a summer that changes him forever.
Directed by Avi Nesher, Israel, 2012, Hebrew (with English subtitles), 112 minutes
The Outrageous Sophie Tucker
The rags to riches story of Sophie Tucker, an iconic superstar who ruled the worlds of vaudeville, Broadway, radio, television, and Hollywood throughout the 20th century. Before Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Bette Midler, Marilyn Monroe, and Mae West, Sophie Tucker was the first woman to infatuate her audiences with a bold, bawdy and brassy style unlike any other. Using all of “The Last of the Red Hot Mamas” 400-plus recently rediscovered personal scrapbooks, authors Susan and Lloyd Ecker take you on their seven-year journey retracing Tucker’s sixty-year career in show business.
Directed by William Gazecki, USA, Documentary, 2015, English, 96 minutes
The Other Story
Strong female protagonists have been the mainstay of many Avi Nesher films. In “The Other Story”, two rebellious young women – one fleeing the chaos of secular hedonism for the disciplined comforts of faith; the other desperate to transcend her oppressive religious upbringing for sexual and spiritual freedom – cross paths unexpectedly in Jerusalem, to startling consequences.
Director Avi Nesher, Drama, International, Suspense, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2019, 117 minutes
The Pickle Recipe
Joey is the undisputed king of Detroit party MC’s for the wedding and bar mitzvah circuit. He’s also a single father and deeply in debt. When all of his sound equipment gets destroyed in a freak accident, he’s forced to get creative and enter into some shady business to get back on his feet. To add insult to injury, his daughter Julie’s Bat-Mitzvah is only weeks away and she’s counting on him to MC her party. After exhausting all of his options, he turns to his shady Uncle Morty (Oscar nominee David Paymer), who agrees to give him the needed money to get back into business. But only under one condition. Joey must steal his grandmother Rose’s most prized possession: her famous top-secret dill pickle recipe. Rose (played by “Sex and the City” and “Hunger Games: Cathing Fire” star Lynn Cohen) guards the recipe with her life and has vowed to take it to her grave.
Director Michael Manasseri, Comedy, English, USA, 2016, 97 minutes
The Rape of Europa
The Rape of Europa is an epic journey through seven countries, into the violent whirlwind of fanaticism, greed, and warfare that threatened to wipe out the artistic heritage of Europe. For twelve long years, the Nazis looted and destroyed art on a scale unprecedented in history. But heroic young art historians and curators from America and across Europe fought back with a miraculous campaign to rescue and return the millions of lost, hidden and stolen treasures.
Directed by Richard Berge, Nicole Newnham, Bonni Cohen, USA, 2006, English, 117 minutes
The Sign for Love
When El-Ad was a child, his mother told him: “Raising you is like raising three kids.” Ever since that moment, he felt guilty for being deaf, and tried extra hard to be like everyone else. He became even more alienated after the tragic death of his mother and the breakdown of his family. El-Ad later started a family of his own, becoming a father through a shared parenting arrangement with his friend Yaeli, who’s also deaf, surrounded by their deaf friends. The film is his first-person account of the life he created for himself, and his attempt to show viewers his version of family and parenthood.
Directors Elad Cohen, Iris Ben Moshe, Documentary, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2017, 75 minutes
The Sturgeon Queens
Four generations of a Jewish immigrant family create Russ and Daughters, a Lower East Side lox and herring emporium that survives and thrives. Produced to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the store, this documentary features an extensive interview with two of the original daughters for whom the store was named, now 100 and 92 years old, and interviews with prominent enthusiasts of the store including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, chef Mario Batali, New Yorker writer Calvin Trillin, and 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer. Rather than a conventional narrator, the filmmakers bring together six colorful longtime fans of the store, in their 80s and 90s, who sit around a table of fish reading the script in the style of a Passover Seder.
Director Julie Cohen, Documentary, Comedy, Family, English, USA, 2014, 52 minutes
The Tenth Man
After years away, Ariel returns to Buenos Aires seeking to reconnect with his father Usher, who has founded a charity foundation in Once, the city’s bustling Jewish district where Ariel spent his youth. In the process of trying to meet his father and getting entangled in his charitable commitments, Ariel also reconnects with his own Jewish roots. Usher staves off a meeting with his son; roping him into a number of small assignments, during the course of which Ariel meets Eva, who volunteers for Usher’s charity. Eva’s radiant inner strength and independent spirit inspires Ariel to come to grips with the the traditions that once divided him and his father and rethink his own identity. Tenderly, and with a lightness of touch, he has Ariel let go of his old expectations and allow himself to be drawn into the center of a vibrant and fascinating community.
Director Daniel Burman, Family, Drama, Spanish (with English subtitles), Argentina, 2016, 80 minutes
Yoel, a meticulous historian leading a significant debate against holocaust deniers, discovers that his mother carries a false identity. A mystery about a man who is willing to risk everything to discover the truth.
A Film by Amichai Greenberg, Israel, 2017, Hebrew, German (with English subtitles), Drama, 96 minutes
The Waldheim Waltz
A film about truth and lies and how a dishonest man can rise to power.
Ruth Beckermann documents the process of uncovering former UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim’s wartime past. It shows the swift succession of new allegations by the World Jewish Congress during his Austrian presidential campaign, the denial by the Austrian political class, the outbreak of anti-Semitism and patriotism, which finally led to his election. Created from international archive material and what Beckermann shot at the time, the film shows that history repeats itself time and time again.
Austria, 2018, Documentary, German, French and English (with English subtitles), 94 minutes
The Women’s Balcony
An accident during a bar mitzvah celebration leads to a gender rift in a devout Orthodox community in Jerusalem, in this rousing, good-hearted tale about women speaking truth to patriarchal power. When the women’s balcony in an Orthodox synagogue collapses, leaving the rabbi’s wife in a coma and the rabbi in shock, the congregation falls into crisis. Charismatic young Rabbi David appears to be a savior after the accident, but slowly starts pushing his fundamentalist ways and tries to take control. This tests the women’s friendships and creates an almost Lysistrata-type rift between the community’s women and men.
A Film by Shlomit Nehama and Emil Ben-Shimon, Israel, 2016, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Comedy, Drama, 96 minutes
On May 18, we had a Q&A about the film. View a recording of the event here.
The Wonderful Kingdom of Papa Alaev
A modern-day Shakespearean tale about a legendary Tajik-Israeli musical family controlled by the charismatic patriarch Papa Alaev. Only his equally strong-willed daughter, Ada, dares to resist his will. As Papa nears 80 and generations clash over new musical directions, the family show must go on. But who will lead the band?
Directors Tal Barda and Noam Pinchas, Documentary, Hebrew, Russian, Tajiki (with English subtitles), Israel, France, 2016, 74 minutes
The Zigzag Kid
In this spirited and action-packed adventure young Nono, a nearly 13 year old dreamer, longs to be a detective like his father, the famous police inspector; but his wild nature constantly gets him into trouble. Fed up with Nono’s fantasies and antics, his father sends him off to his uncle’s. On the train, the very imaginative Nono discovers one last chance to prove himself. He meets the charming international thief Felix Glick, an old acquaintance of his father’s, with whom he travels to the French Rivera and enters a world of intrigue and pursuits, crossing paths with the famous singer Lola Ciperola (Isabella Rossellini) and the mysterious Zohara whose secrets will change his life forever. Based on the beloved novel by David Grossman, The Zigzag Kid appeals to adults and children alike through its wit and humor.
Directed by Vincent Bal, Belgium, Netherlands, 2015, Dutch, English, French, 95 minutes
The Zookeeper’s Wife
In 1939 Poland, Antonina Żabińska (portrayed by two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain) and her husband, Dr. Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh, a European Film Award nominee for the Academy Award-nominated The Broken Circle Breakdown), have the Warsaw Zoo flourishing under his stewardship and her care. When their country is invaded by the Germans, Jan and Antonina are stunned and forced to report to the Reich’s newly appointed chief zoologist, Lutz Heck (Golden Globe Award nominee Daniel Brühl of Captain America: Civil War). To fight back on their own terms, the Żabińskis covertly begin working with the Resistance and put into action plans to save lives out of what has become the Warsaw Ghetto, with Antonina putting herself and even her children at great risk.
Director Nick Caro, Biography, Drama, History, German, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Czech Republic, UK, USA, 2017, 127 minutes
Fate introduces the aging cabaret singer Ruth (played by Hannelore Elsner, the Grande Dame of German cinema) and the confused Jonas (dashing German actor Max Riemelt). Ruth is running from her past and Jonas from his future but the two of them together manage to reaffirm life for each other in this moving drama.
Directed by Uwe Janson, Germany, 2016, German (with English subtitles), Drama, 86 minutes
This fascinating historical drama looks at the life of “the Czech Schindler,” Zdenek Toman, a controversial figure who was an unsavory politician and dubious entrepreneur, but also the savior of hundreds of European Jews.
Director Ondrej Trojan, Biography, Czech (with English subtitles), Czech Republic, Slovakia, 2018, 144 minutes
Can one be a Catholic priest and an Observant Jew at the same time? Twelve years after he was ordained as a Polish Catholic priest discovers that he was born to Jewish parents. The film follows his amazing journey: from conducting mass in a church in Poland to life as an observant Jew in a religious kibbutz in Israel. Torn between two identities he is unable to renounce either, and consequently, he is unaccepted by both religions as well as the state of Israel. Now, he is required to choose.
Director Ronit Kertsner, Documentary, Polish, Hebrew, French (with English subtitles), Israel, 2017, 72 minutes
Tunnel of Hope
The unbelievable escape story of the grandmother of Jared Kushner. In 1943, 250 Jewish slave workers successfully escaped from a Nazi labor camp in Novogrudok, Belarus, via a tunnel they dug. The film follows the remaining escapees, accompanied by their descendants, in an attempt to find the tunnel. The archaeological excavations dig up not only piles of dirt and some physical remnants, but also dredge up the memories, pain and hope of three generations that merge to become one story.
Director Dror H. Shwartz. Documentary, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2015, 88 minutes
Why do cartoons feel like a quintessentially Jewish art form? From comic books to graphic novels, Jews have blazed a trail in illustrated storytelling. The single panel cartoon—a few squiggles and even fewer words—enlightens, maddens, confuses and delights. Like the shortest short story or lyrical haiku, it strips humor to its most bare. And nowhere does that art form soar higher than in the New Yorker magazine. According to cartoon editor Bruce Mankoff, cartoons make the strange familiar and the familiar strange. Watching Very Semi-Serious is like getting together with someone else’s crazy relatives; we see ourselves in them, but we’re glad we don’t have to go home with them. Famed and would-be cartoonists return week after week to vie for the approval of the acerbic, egotistical, wildly funny and deeply human Mankoff. From the inimitable neurosis of Roz Chast to the insane drawings of Farley Katz to the offbeat musings of BEK (Bruce Eric Kaplan), this cast of characters draws us into their eccentric views of what it’s like to be human. Filmmaker Leah Wolchok’s peek behind the curtain reveals the people and pain that makes the humor poignant. Like binging on a year’s worth of New Yorker cartoons, Very Semi-Serious delights and leaves you wanting more.
Director Leah Wolchok, Documentary, English, USA, 2015, 83 minutes
An innocent and honest relationship between a religious Yeshiva scholar and an 18 years old cancer patient girl, turns out to become an intimate and passionate love story that transcends the rules of religion, society and faith.
Director Amichai Greenberg, Feature, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2015, 62 minutes
Wasserman: The Rain Man
Seventy-three-year-old Wasserman swore never to pray again. He blames God for his family’s annihilation during the Holocaust. He is unwilling to forgive. But a dire situation forces Wasserman to reconsider. He needs money; his creditors are knocking on his door. The only way his religious neighbors will help him out is if he agrees to join them in the synagogue for a communal prayer to end the devastating drought that is plaguing their region. Now Wasserman has to confront his two daughters and grandson in a final attempt to hold on to his family and his land. He has 24 hours to make a decision.
Director Idit Shechori, Feature, Hebrew (with English subtitles), Israel, 2018, 57 minutes
Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskills Resort
Kutsher’s Country Club was the last surviving Jewish resort in the Catskills. One of the legendary Borscht Belt hotels during its heyday, Kutsher’s was family-owned and operated for over 100 years. Exploring the full Dirty Dancing-era Catskills experience— and how it changed American pop culture in the comedy, sports and vacation industries— this award-winning documentary captures a last glimpse of a lost world as it disappears before our eyes.
Directed by Caroline Laskow and Ian Rosenberg. USA, Documentary, 2015, English, 73 minutes
We Shall Not Die Now
We Shall Not Die Now is a documentary film that chronicles the Holocaust, when, between 1939 and 1945, over six million Jews and millions of others were systematically murdered by the Nazi regime.
Seventy-five years after the conclusion of the war, the film explores not only the horrific human tragedy and what we can learn from it, but also the resilience of those that rebuilt their lives despite the unimaginable.
Told by the survivors and liberators who experienced it firsthand, We Shall Not Die Now is an exploration into the darkest and brightest sides of the human spirit.
Director Ashton Gleckman, Documentary, USA, 2019, 100 minutes
On May 26, we had a Q&A about the film. View a recording of the event here.
Who Will Write Our History
In November 1940, days after the Nazis sealed 450,000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, a secret band of journalists, scholars, and community leaders decided to fight back. Led by historian Emanuel Ringelblum and known by the code name Oyneg Shabes, this clandestine group vowed to defeat Nazi lies and propaganda not with guns or fists but with the ultimate weapon: the truth.
Director Roberta Grossman, Faith and Spirituality, Documentary, English, USA, 2019, 97 minutes