The Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center will present the 20th annual New York Jewish Film Festival at the Film Society’s Walter Reade Theater, The Jewish Museum, and The JCC in Manhattan, Jan. 12-27, 2011. The festival’s 36 features and shorts from 14 countries—31 screening in their world, U.S. or New York premieres—provide a diverse global perspective on the Jewish experience. In celebration of the festival’s 20th anniversary, several film screenings will be followed by filmmakers and special guests in onstage discussions and/or performances.
The festival opens on Wednesday, January 12, with the New York premiere of “Mahler on the Couch,” Percy and Felix Adlon’s witty examination of composer Gustav Mahler’s relationship with his tempestuous wife, Alma, and his consultations with Sigmund Freud. The film is filled with Mahler’s sublime music, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. It joins the closing night film, Avi Nesher’s “The Matchmaker”—a New York premiere about a teenage boy in 1968 Haifa who gets a job working for a matchmaker who is a Holocaust survivor. This film was nominated for seven Israeli Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Festival documentary screenings include three world premieres. Daniel Burman’s “36 Righteous Men” (“Los 36 Justos”) follows a group of Orthodox Jews on their annual pilgrimage to the tombs of Tzaddikim (righteous men) in Russia, Ukraine and Poland, culminating in a visit to the tomb of the founder of Hasidism, the Baal Shem Tov. Jonathan Gruber’s “Jewish Soldiers in Blue and Gray” is the first film to address the struggles that American Jews faced on the battlefield and at the home front on both sides in the Civil War, and features the voice of Sam Waterson as Abraham Lincoln. Joseph Dorman’s “Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness” is a moving portrait of the great Yiddish writer, whose stories inspired Fiddler on the Roof.
Four documentaries examine facets of contemporary Israeli life. Eytan Harris’ “As Lilith,” receiving its New York premiere, takes the viewer through the aftermath of a teenage girl’s suicide. Her grieving mother wishes to cremate the daughter’s body over the objections of Israel’s emergency service. Anat Zuria’s “Black Bus,” also receiving its New York premiere, chronicles the lives of two women who leave the close-knit Haredi community and are consequently estranged from their families. Shlomi Eldar’s “Precious Life,” an HBO Documentary Film, tells the complex and touching story of Israeli and Palestinian doctors’ attempts to save the life of a Palestinian baby born without an immune system. Lisa Gossels’ “My So-Called Enemy,” receiving its New York premiere, tells the story of six Palestinian and Israeli girls who participate in a program meant to bridge the gap between the two sides.
Two films examine the deportation of French Jews during the Holocaust. Raphaël Delpard’s documentary, “Convoys of Shame” (“Les Convois de la Honte”), receiving its United States premiere, explores how SNCF (the French national rail company) transported thousands of Jews, Roma and members of the resistance to Nazi concentration camps. Accounts from eyewitnesses, historians, and lawyers are supplemented by dramatizations. Roselyne Bosch’s “The Roundup” (“La Rafle”), receiving its New York premiere, dramatizes the infamous “Vel d’Hiv” roundup of 13,000 Jews. The film, which has created a sensation in France, features Jean Reno (The DaVinci Code) and Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds).
There will be a special screening of George Marshall’s 1953 “Houdini” in memory of Tony Curtis and in conjunction with The Jewish Museum’s current exhibition, Houdini: Art and Magic. This film stars Curtis as the legendary magician and escape artist Harry Houdini and Janet Leigh as his wife. The screening will be followed by a performance by contemporary magical entertainer Josh Rand.
Restored versions of two archival films will receive their United States premieres. Ján Kádar’s 1975 film, “Lies My Father Told Me,” follows 6-year old David, who lives in 1920s Montreal with his Canadian-born parents and his beloved grandfather, a junk peddler who emigrated from Russia. In Max Nosseck’s 1956 work,”Singing in the Dark,” Yiddish star Moishe Oysher plays a concentration camp survivor suffering from traumatic amnesia. One of the first feature films to dramatize the Holocaust, this was Oysher’s only English-language film. There will also be a special screening of the classic 1939 “Tevye,” directed by and starring Maurice Schwartz, at The Jewish Museum. Restored with new subtitles by The National Center for Jewish Film, this adaptation of the Sholem Aleichem play will be followed by a book signing with J. Hoberman, author of the newly expanded Bridge of Light: Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds.
Eve Annenberg’s “Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish” will have its United States premiere. A middle-aged ER nurse who is a bitterly lapsed observant Jew undertakes a Yiddish translation of Shakespeare’s great classic. In perhaps the first Yiddish “mumblecore” film, Annenberg creates a parallel universe where Romeo and Juliet stem from divergent streams of ultra-Orthodox Judaism and speak their lines in street-smart Yiddish.
Two additional dramas receive their New York premieres. Acclaimed Israeli director Eran Riklis’ “The Human Resources Manager,” based on A. B. Yehoshua’s novel, follows a human resources manager at a Jerusalem bakery on a journey to Romania to accompany the corpse of an employee killed in a suicide bombing. Along the way he is at turns aided and hindered by her family, local politicians and a persistent reporter. This film is Israel’s official submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Fabián Hofman’s poignant drama, “I Miss You” (“Te Extraño”) depicts the exile of 15 year-old Javier from his native Argentina during the 1970s. Sent to live in Mexico after the “disappearance” of his older brother, Javier struggles to grow up and to separate himself from the specter of his missing sibling.
Three documentaries highlight different facets of musical life. Erik Greenberg Anjou’s “The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground,” receiving its New York premiere, mixes mesmerizing performances by the Grammy Award-winning band with soulful interviews. “Red Shirley,” receiving its New York premiere, is directed by Lou Reed and photographed by portraitist Ralph Gibson. The film is a portrait of Reed’s 100 year-old activist, unionist cousin. The Saturday, January 15 screening will be followed by a discussion with Lou Reed and Ralph Gibson. Garry Beitel’s “The ‘Socalled’ Movie” is a portrait of klezmer hip-hop artist Socalled, aka, Josh Dolgin. A pianist, singer, arranger, rapper, producer and composer, he works to break the boundaries that separate music from different cultures, eras and generations. Socalled will perform following the screening on Saturday, January 22.
Three additional documentaries receive United States premieres. Nir David Zats & Zuzanna Solakiewicz’s “Cabaret Polska” is an unusual take on the effects of the 1968 anti-Semitic campaign in Poland, combining documentary footage with cabaret performance and animation. Ivo Krankowski & Jan Spiewak’s “8 Stories That Haven’t Changed the World” offers childhood memories of eight Polish Jews born before World War II. They vividly recall their first days at school, books they read, and their first loves. Raymond Ley’s “Eichmann’s End: Love, Betrayal, Death” retells the story leading up to the capture of Adolph Eichmann by Mossad agents in Argentina through real-life testimonials interwoven with dramatic scenarios. At the heart of the film is the true story of a love affair between a Holocaust survivor’s daughter and the boy she did not realize was Eichmann’s son.
Seven additional documentaries receive New York premieres. Yoav Potash’s “Crime After Crime,” depicts the legal battle to free a woman imprisoned in California for over a quarter century due to her connection to the murder of the man who abused her. She finds her only hope for freedom when two attorneys – one of them an Orthodox Jew – step forward to take on her case. Lilly Rivlin’s “Grace Paley: Collected Shorts” explores the life of the acclaimed writer and activist through footage of Paley and her family, as well as interviews with Alice Walker, Allan Gurganus and others. In “Sixty and the City,” documentarian Nili Tal decides at age 60 that she doesn’t want to get older alone. With honesty and an amazing sense of humor, she turns the camera on herself and some of her dates as she searches for romance on the Internet. Kevin McNeer’s “Stalin Thought of You” looks at the life of Russian illustrator Boris Efimov, who produced political cartoons on nearly every world event of the past hundred years. Efimov’s words, drawings and animated films are interwoven with rarely seen footage from the Russian State Film Archive. Rod Freedman’s “Wrong Side of the Bus” focuses on Sidney Bloch, an internationally recognized professor of psychiatry and ethicist who returns to South Africa for his medical school reunion, determined to resolve the guilt that has troubled him for 40 years. Karen Goodman & Kirk Simon’s “Strangers No More” is about a Tel Aviv school where children from 48 countries, including Darfur, South Africa, and Eritrea, come together. Dan Wolman’s “Yolande: An Unsung Heroine” tells the story of Yolande Gabai de Botton, considered by many the Jewish “Mata Hari,” who risked her son’s life and her own while collecting intelligence in Egypt and fighting for the creation of an independent State of Israel while undercover as a reporter.
This year’s New York Jewish Film Festival was selected by Scott Foundas, Associate Program Director, Film Society of Lincoln Center; Andrew Ingall, Assistant Curator, The Jewish Museum; Richard Peña, Program Director, Film Society of Lincoln Center; and Aviva Weintraub, Associate Curator and Director of The New York Jewish Film Festival, The Jewish Museum; with assistance from Sheryl Santacruz, Film Festival Coordinator, The Jewish Museum.
The New York Jewish Film Festival, Jan. 12-27, 2011
Detailed Program and Schedule Information
Wednesday, January 12
NEW YORK PREMIERE
Mahler on the Couch
Percy Adlon & Felix Adlon | Austria/Germany | 2010 | 97m
Percy Adlon, acclaimed director of Bagdad Café, with his son Felix, brings us this witty examination of the great composer Gustav Mahler’s relationship with his tempestuous wife, Alma. Chafing under her agreement to give up her own musical ambitions, Alma seeks passion in the arms of the young, dashing architect Walter Gropius. The film depicts Mahler’s consultations with Sigmund Freud on matters of creativity and passion. Moving, funny, and filled with Mahler’s sublime music conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mahler on the Couch is a sensory feast based on an actual encounter between Mahler and Freud.
Wed Jan 12: 1:00pm and 6:00pm
Thursday, January 27, 8:30pm
NEW YORK PREMIERE
Avi Nesher | Israel | 2010 | 112m
Arik, a teenage boy growing up in Haifa in 1968, gets a job working for Yankele Bride, a matchmaker who promises to get you what you need, not what you want. Yankele, a Holocaust survivor, has an office in the back of a movie theater that shows only love stories, run by a family of seven Romanian dwarves in a seedy neighborhood. The lessons Arik learns in matters of the heart are tested when his best friend’s cousin returns from America full of talk of free love and rock and roll. Nominated for 7 Israeli Academy Awards including Best Picture.
Thu Jan 27: 3:15pm and 8:30pm
36 Righteous Men / Los 36 justos
Daniel Burman | Argentina 2011 | 70m
Daniel Burman (Waiting for the Messiah, NYJFF 2002; Lost Embrace, NYJFF 2005; Empty Nest, NYJFF 2009) returns with his first documentary. Camera in hand, Burman joins a group of Orthodox Jews on their annual pilgrimage to the tombs of Tzaddikim (righteous men) in Russia, Ukraine and Poland, culminating at the tomb of the 17th-century spiritual leader, the Baal Shem Tov. Intrigued by the Jewish mystical belief in 36 hidden Tzaddikim, Burman takes us on an intimate journey.
Paweł Łoziński | Poland | 2010 | 9m
Three explorers painstakingly decipher inscriptions in the lushly overgrown Jewish cemetery in Warsaw.
Wed Jan 26: 3:45pm and 8:30pm
NEW YORK PREMIERE
Eytan Harris | Israel | 2010 | 78m
This riveting documentary takes us through the aftermath of a teenage girl’s suicide. Her strong-willed mother, Lilith, wishes to cremate the body, but Israel’s emergency service, ZAKA, does all it can to prevent this. As the family grieves, they find themselves on the defensive for being different, while trying to explain the circumstances of the girl’s death.
Mon Jan 24: 3:45PM and 8:45PM
NEW YORK PREMIERE
Anat Zuria | Israel | 2009 | 76m
Documentarian Zuria (Purity, NYJFF 2004; Sentenced to Marriage, NYJFF 2006) returns with the powerful story of two young women who choose to leave their close-knit Haredi communities in Israel and are consequently estranged from their families. Both document their daily experiences, which include riding on the so-called “Black Bus” where women may sit only in the back.
Tue Jan 25: 1:15pm and 6:00pm
Nir David Zats & Zuzanna Solakiewicz | Poland | 2008 | 49m
An unusual take on the effects of the 1968 anti-Semitic campaign in Poland. Combining documentary with animation and cabaret performance, the film considers these events and their aftermath through personal memories touching on food, language, politics and song.
8 Stories That Haven’t Changed the World
Ivo Krankowski & Jan Śpiewak | Poland | 2010 | 35m
The Polish Jewish Youth Organization presents this engaging documentary on the childhood memories of eight Polish Jews born before WWII. They vividly recall memories ranging from their first days at school, books they read, and their first loves.
Wed Jan 19: 1:30pm and 6:00pm
Convoys of Shame / Les Convois de la honte
Raphaël Delpard | France | 2010 | 109m
This incisive documentary examines how the SNCF (the French national rail company) used its trains and its infrastructure to transport tens of thousands of Jews, Roma, and members of the resistance from France to Nazi concentration camps from 1940 to 1944. Accounts from eyewitnesses, historians, and attorneys are supplemented by elegant reconstitutions.
Mon Jan 24: 1:00pm and 6:00pm
NEW YORK PREMIERE
Crime After Crime
Yoav Potash | USA | 2010 | 89m
A profoundly moving documentary on the legal battle to free a woman imprisoned in California for over a quarter century due to her connection to the murder of the man who abused her. She finds her only hope for freedom when two rookie attorneys – one of them an Orthodox Jew – step forward to take her case.
Thu Jan 27: 1:00pm and 6:00pm
Eichmann’s End: Love, Betrayal, Death
Raymond Ley | Germany/Israel | 2010 | 90m
This brilliantly constructed film tells the story leading up to the capture of Adolph Eichmann by Mossad agents in Argentina. Real-life testimonials are interwoven with dramatic scenarios. At the heart of the film is the unbelievable, yet true, story of a love affair between a Holocaust survivor’s daughter and the boy she did not realize was Eichmann’s son.
Mon Jan 17: 6:00pm
Sun Jan 23: 4:00pm
NEW YORK CITY PREMIERE
Grace Paley: Collected Shorts
Lilly Rivlin | USA | 2010 | 75m
In the words of filmmaker Rivlin, writer and activist Grace Paley “combined the best of all possible worlds – literature, politics, and love of humanity. Grace was a real mensch.” The child of Russian Jewish refugees, Paley went on to write such acclaimed works as The Little Disturbances of Man and Enormous Changes at the Last Minute. Featuring footage of Paley and her family, as well as interviews with Alice Walker, Allan Gurganus and others.
NEW YORK PREMIERE
Vera Klement: Blunt Edge
Wonjung Bae | USA | 2010 | 11m
As her 80th birthday nears, artist Vera Klement starts another figure painting. As she completes the work, Klement, a Holocaust survivor, reflects on her life and celebrates her art.
Thu Jan 20: 1:00pm and 6:00pm
George Marshall | USA | 1953 | 106m
This special screening is presented in memory of Tony Curtis, and in conjunction with the exhibition, Houdini: Art and Magic, on view at The Jewish Museum. The career of the famous magician and escape artist, Harry Houdini, comes to life in this colorful drama starring the late great Tony Curtis as Houdini, and the irresistible Janet Leigh as his wife. Screening will be followed by a performance by contemporary magical entertainer, Josh Rand.
Mon Jan 17: 1:00pm
NEW YORK PREMIERE
The Human Resources Manager
Eran Riklis, Israel/Germany/France/Romania | 2010 | 103m
The human resources manager at a bakery in Jerusalem must get to know one of his employees posthumously after her death in a suicide bombing. In this compelling and sensitive drama based on a book by A. B. Yehoshua, he finds himself the unlikely chaperone of her body to her native Romania. Along the way he is by turns aided and undermined by members of her family, local politicians, and a persistent tabloid reporter.
Sat Jan 15: 6:30pm
Thu Jan 20: 3:30pm and 8:30pm
NEW YORK PREMIERE
I Miss You / Te extraño
Fabián Hofman | Mexico/Argentina | 2010 | 96m
This poignant drama depicts the exile of Javier, a 15-year-old boy who leaves his home because of the political situation in 1970s Argentina. His middle-class Jewish family is torn apart by the “disappearance” of his older brother; his parents send him to live with relatives in Mexico. Javier struggles to grow up and to separate himself from the specter of his missing sibling.
Sat Jan 22: 6:30pm
Sun Jan 23: 8:30pm
Jewish Soldiers in Blue and Gray
Jonathan Gruber | USA | 2011 | 86m
This fascinating documentary is a first-of-its-kind film that reveals the struggles that faced Jewish Americans in battle and on the home front during the Civil War. Through period photographs, rare documents, letters and artifacts, and exclusive interviews with experts and descendants, the film chronicles the sacrifices Jews made as they took up arms both in the Union and Confederacy. Featuring the voice of Sam Waterston as Abraham Lincoln.
Tue Jan 18: 3:30pm
Wed Jan 19: 8:15pm
NEW YORK PREMIERE
The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground
Erik Greenberg Anjou | Germany/Hungary/Israel/Poland/USA 2010 | 106m
Eric Greenberg Anjou (A Cantor’s Tale, NYJFF 2006) returns with this high-energy documentary about the Grammy Award-winning, New York-based superstar klezmer band, The Klezmatics. Mesmerizing performances are mixed with soulful interviews. Anjou and crew followed The Klezmatics for over three years capturing the band’s highs, lows, and relentless march forward.
Thu Jan 13: 3:15pm and 8:30pm
Mon Jan 17: 8:15pm
U.S. PREMIERE OF RESTORED VERSION
Lies My Father Told Me
Ján Kádar | Canada | 1975 | 104m
Join us to revisit this classic film based on a story by Ted Allan and set in the 1920s Montreal Jewish immigrant community. Six-year-old David lives with his Canadian-born parents, his grandfather – a junk peddler who emigrated from Russia – and their aging horse. A clash is inevitable with David’s modern, materialistic father. Young David loves nothing more than making the rounds with his grandfather calling out for “rags, clothes, bottles.”
Sun Jan 16: 1:30pm
NEW YORK CITY PREMIERE
My So-Called Enemy
Lisa Gossels | USA | 2010 | 89m
Some have lost friends and family members. All bear the psychological and emotional scars of living in a war zone. In 2002, 22 Palestinian and Israeli teenage girls traveled to the U.S. to participate in Building Bridges for Peace, a women’s leadership program. This moving documentary tells the story of six of the girls and how the experience of knowing their “enemies” as human beings meets with the realities of their lives over the next seven years.
Sun Jan 16: 6:45pm
Tue Jan 18: 7:30pm at the JCC in Manhattan
Shlomi Eldar | Israel | 2010 | 90m
HBO Documentary Film
Precious Life tells the story of a four-month-old Palestinian boy from Gaza who was born without an immune system and requires a bone marrow transplant, which can only be done in an Israeli hospital. A desperate plea from his doctor leads Israeli journalist Eldar to document this complex and touching story of Israeli and Palestinian doctors’ attempts to save the boy’s life.
Wed Jan 26: 6:00pm
NEW YORK PREMIERE
Lou Reed | USA | 2010 | 28m
Red Shirley is a portrait of the filmmaker’s 100-year-old activist, unionist, cousin, an articulate, living historical individual. A portrayal of a certain kind of genius, Red Shirley is an example of how the West was won. Photographed by portraitist Ralph Gibson and Directed by Lou Reed. Filmed in New York’s Chelsea Garment Worker Project. Screening will be followed by discussion with Reed and Gibson.