As the largest Jewish Community Center in North America, non-denominational and welcoming to all, the philosophy of inclusion serves as a compass for JCC Chicago. Since 2014, our festival has featured dozens of films that address issues of race, religion, orientation, disabilities, differences and mental health.
Last year’s selections included:
- “John Lewis, Good Trouble” explores this pioneering civil rights activist’s life and career.
- “Code of the Freaks” shows how Hollywood has impacted the ways in which those who are different or disabled are perceived by others as well as by themselves.
- “The Crossing,” follows innocent Norwegian children who help get Jewish refugees to freedom.
- In “The Homestretch” we are given insight into the lives of three homeless teens on the streets of Chicago.
- The challenges facing those who identify as LGBTQ are explored in the Sundance award-winning film, “The Miseducation of Cameron Post.”
- “Hate Among Us” provides perspectives on Anti-Semitism throughout history to the present day.
As a response to the pandemic, we have taken important steps toward making our festival more accessible through 50 virtual screenings, increasing participation within the community. We have a growing list of films that have streamed online that are closed captioned and ~75% of our films are subtitled.
We work with community partners to help promote films with specific messages and secure representation from their agency to either moderate a post-film Q&A with filmmaker or act as a subject matter expert. Past partners include Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, Institute for Nonviolence Chicago, Anti-Defamation League, Keshet, Keshet LGBTQ, National Council of Jewish Women, and area synagogues.
Our upcoming festivals and series for ‘21/’22, including January’s Social Justice Series, will explore the topics of Anti-Semitism, Racism, Human Rights and the Holocaust, and issues impacting people who are different and/or disabled in order to ignite the important conversations that need to occur to bring about societal change.