New York Jewish Film Festival

NAME OF FESTIVAL: New York Jewish Film Festival

SINCE: 1992

WHERE: New York, New York


The Jewish Museum and Film at Lincoln Center continue their partnership to bring you the New York Jewish Film Festival, presenting films from around the world that explore the Jewish experience. The Festival presents an engaging lineup of narratives, documentaries, and shorts.

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New York Jewish Film Festival Reveals Special Programs Incl. 20th Anniversary Screening of ‘Welcome to the Dollhouse’

New York Jewish Film Festival Reveals Special Programs Incl. 20th Anniversary Screening of ‘Welcome to the Dollhouse’

The 2016 New York Jewish Film Festival (NYJFF) presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Jewish Museum will take place January 13 to 26, 2016 at the Film Society’s Walter Reade Theater and Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center. This year’s 25th-anniversary edition will include a number of special programs, including a retrospective of film highlights from past festivals; an exhibition of posters from previous festival selections; a panel discussion bringing together some […]

Yared Zeleke’s ‘Lamb’ Natalie Portman’s ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ Bookend Lineup for 2016 New York Jewish Film Festival

Yared Zeleke’s ‘Lamb’ Natalie Portman’s ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ Bookend Lineup for 2016 New York Jewish Film Festival

The 2016 New York Jewish Film Festival (NYJFF) will run January 13-26, 2016, at the Film Society’s Walter Reade Theater and Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center.  This year’s lineup includes 38 features and shorts from 12 countries—21 screening in their world, U.S., or New York premieres—providing a diverse global perspective on the Jewish experience. The 2016 New York Jewish Film Festival is presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Jewish Museum. The 25th […]

Lineup Announced for 2015 New York Jewish Film Festival

Lineup Announced for 2015 New York Jewish Film Festival

The Muses of Isaac Bashevis SingerThe Muses of Isaac Bashevis Singer

The 24th annual New York Jewish Film Festival scheduled to be held at the Film Society’s Walter Reade Theater and Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, from January 14 to 29, 2015 will screen 47 features and shorts from 11 countries.  The festival opens on Wednesday, January 14 with the U.S. premiere of Asaf Galay and Shaul Betser’s The Muses of Isaac Bashevis Singer. The Nobel Prize-winning author Isaac Bashevis Singer was a charming enchanter both on the page and in his romantic life. This surprising and unflinching documentary explores, through poignant interviews and exclusive archival footage, the unknown history of one of his most vital sources of creative inspiration: his translators. Dozens of women throughout Singer’s life worked with him to open the doors to his singular Yiddish prose for the rest of the world to enjoy, and his relationships with many of them blurred the lines between the professional and the intimate.

21st New York Jewish Film Festival Announces Schedule, Runs Jan 11 thru 26, 2012

21st New York Jewish Film Festival Announces Schedule, Runs Jan 11 thru 26, 2012

The 21st annual New York Jewish Film Festival will run at the Film Society’s Walter Reade Theater and Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, Jan. 11-26, 2012. The festival’s 35 features and shorts from 11 countries – 28 screening in their world, U.S. or New York premieres – provide a diverse global perspective on the Jewish experience. Many film screenings will be followed by filmmakers and special guests in onstage discussions.

The festival opens on Wednesday, January 11, with the New York premiere of Guy Nattiv’s “Mabul (The Flood).”  Yoni, almost 13 and smart but physically underdeveloped, faces bullying by classmates, parents who barely say a word to each other, and a 17-year-old autistic brother who returns home from an institution right before Yoni’s bar mitzvah.  Buried secrets come to light, and Yoni’s bar mitzvah Torah portion – Noah and the flood – becomes a metaphor for the family’s fragile and frozen existence.  Nominated for six Ophir Awards (Israeli Academy Awards), “Mabul” features unforgettable performances by Ronit Elkabetz, Tzahi Grad and Michael Moshonov.

The closing night film, the world premiere of Caroline Laskow and Ian Rosenberg’s “Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskills Resort,” focuses on the last surviving Jewish resort in the Catskills, in its heyday one of the legendary “Borscht Belt” hotels.  These resorts were not only a Jewish vacation paradise, they also had significant influence on enter­tainment, stand-up comedy and sports. This enjoyable documentary features a young Wilt Chamberlain play­ing ball and working as a bellhop at Kutsher’s, Freddie Roman’s classic comedy routine, ice skating instructor Olga Duffy hopping up on the Zamboni, and an abundance of hearty kosher feasts.

Four other documentaries receive their world premieres.  Jonathan Gruber and Ari Daniel Pinchot’s “Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story” presents a moving portrait of  Jonathan “Yoni” Netanyahu, who was killed at the age of 30 leading Israeli special forces in the 1976 hostage rescue mission at the Entebbe Airport in Uganda. Yoni’s life is explored through his own poetry, prose, and letters.  The film also includes rarely seen footage of the Entebbe raid itself, as covered by journalism legend Walter Cronkite, home movies, and interviews with such figures as Yoni’s brother, Benjamin Netanyahu.  Avishai Yeganyahu Mekonen and Shari Rothfarb Mekonen’s “400 Miles to Freedom” documents the 1984 escape from Ethiopia to Israel of the Beta Israel, a secluded 2,500-year-old community of observant Jews in the northern Ethiopian mountains.  Co-director Avishai Mekonen breaks his silence about the kidnapping he endured as a ten-year-old child in Sudan during the community’s exodus.  Joel Katz explores what it means to be white in America through the story of his own family across generations in “White: A Memoir in Color.”  Katz’s father’s role as a white professor at Howard University, a traditionally black college, during the civil rights era comes to bear on his and his wife’s decision to adopt a mixed-race child.  Sam Ball’s fascinating portrait, “Joann Sfar Draws from Memory,” details the life of graphic novelist and filmmaker Joann Sfar, author of the popular The Rabbi’s Cat series and director of the recent film, Serge Gainsbourg (Vie Héroïque), as he visits favorite Parisian neighborhood spots, and muses on his artistic process and the influence of his Algerian and East European family heritage.

Music plays a large role in four Festival films.  In Eytan Fox’s drama “Mary Lou,” receiving its New York premiere, a young man searching for his glamorous mother, years after she mysteriously disappears, learns about love with the help of the Tel Aviv gay community and Israeli pop music while performing as a drag queen.  A cross between the television series Glee and the musical Mama Mia, by way of La Cage aux Folles, Mary Lou garnered the equivalent of the Israeli Emmy Award for best mini-series.  Gili Gaon’s “Iraq ‘N’ Roll,” also a New York premiere, reveals the story of Salah al-Kuwaiti and his brother Daud, highly acclaimed Jewish musicians in 1930s Iraq considered the creators of modern Iraqi music; and details the efforts of Salah’s grandson, popular Israeli rock musician Dudu Tassa, to remix the old tunes for contemporary listeners.  Danny Gold and Matthew Asner’s “100 Voices: A Journey Home” is a compelling and uplifting documentary that looks at Jewish culture in Poland, past and present, through a unique focus: 100 cantors from around the world who come together for concerts at the Warsaw Opera House and the Nozyk Synagogue.  Richard Oswald’s 1933 musical, “My Song Goes Round the World,” showcases the talents of the great tenor Joseph Schmidt (1904-1942), known as the Jewish Caruso, telling the tale of a talented singer who faces challenges in his career and love life because he is less than five feet tall.

The New York premiere of “Shoah: The Unseen Interviews” offers a rare opportunity to see powerful unused footage from three interviews filmed for Claude Lanzmann’s landmark documentary Shoah – Abraham Bomba, who was a barber in Treblinka; Peter Bergson, who struggled to publicize Nazi crimes against the Jews; and the deeply affecting Ruth Elias.  Following the January 15 screening, Raye Farr, director of the Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, will discuss the painstaking process of preserving the 16mm film and editing these segments for viewing.

A restored version of the archival film, “Breaking Home Ties,” directed by Frank N. Seltzer and George K. Rowlands, will receive its United States premiere.  Long thought lost, this 1922 drama about a Jew who flees pre-revolutionary Russia for America, is a gem of the silent era, presented in a new restoration by the National Center for Jewish Film, with piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin.

Three dramatic works receive their United States premieres.  Adrian Panek’s dazzling period drama, “Daas,” explores the  influence of 18th-century false messiah Jacob Frank.  The film presents a tale of intrigue and conspiracy, showing Frank’s influence as seen through the lives of a Viennese lawyer investigating him as a threat to the Austrian Empire, and a Jewish former disciple seeking justice.   Branko Ivanda’s “Lea and Darija” tells the story of Lea Deutsch, known as the Croatian Shirley Temple, and her friend and dancing partner Darija Gasteiger, talented and exuberant 13-year-old girls who were great stars in Zagreb before World War II.  Nazi persecution of Jews and, later, German nationals’ flight from communists test their friendship.  In Thierry Binisti’s “A Bottle in the Gaza Sea,” a 17-year-old Frenchwoman living in Jerusalem writes a letter expressing her refusal to accept that only hatred can reign between Israelis and Palestinians, and has her brother throw it into the sea near Gaza.  A few weeks later, she receives a response from a mysterious young Palestinian named Naïm. This engrossing and hopeful drama starring Hiam Abbas is based on the award-winning novel by Valérie Zenatti.

The documentary, “The Silent Historian,” receiving its United States premiere, explores the life of director Simonka de Jong’s grandfather, the Dutch historian Loe de Jong, known for his research on the history of the Netherlands during World War II. After his death, the family made a discovery – Loe had concealed personal documents about his twin brother Sally, who didn’t survive the war.  Why did Loe never give these letters to Sally’s children, who spent their lives looking for information about the family that was broken apart by the war?

Five other dramas receive New York premieres.  In Katia Lewkowicz’s romantic comedy, “Bachelor Days Are Over,” a young man (Benjamin Biolay) prepares for his wedding, and copes with his fiancée, who has seemingly flown the coop. Faced with a charming chanteuse, demands from family, and workers renovating his apartment, he is forced to decide between marriage or passionate love, family past or marital future.  Ronit Elkabetz delivers a stunning performance in Michal Aviad’s “Invisible,” about two women, both victims of the same serial rapist 20 years earlier, forging a friendship that empowers them to face their disturbing past and to seek justice.  Ami Drozd’s “My Australia” portrays two brothers in a poor neighborhood in 1960s Lódz, Poland.  Members of a gang with a strong anti-Semitic bent, they are stunned to discover that though raised as Catholics, they are in fact Jews.  Telling the younger brother they are going to Australia, the land of his fantasies, the family boards a ship to Israel.  Inspired by actual events, Anna Justice’s “Remembrance” depicts a remarkable love story that blossomed in a Nazi concentration camp in 1944 Poland, only to end when the lovers are forcibly separated after the war, each convinced that the other has died.  More than 30 years later in New York City, the woman believes she has seen her lover interviewed on television and begins to search for him again.  Joseph Madmony’s sensitive drama “Restoration” depicts a Tel Aviv man struggling to keep his antique restoration business afloat. Featuring outstanding performances by Sasson Gabai and Sarah Adler, the film was nominated for 11 Ophir Awards (Israeli Academy Awards), and won the Dramatic Screenwriting Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Also receiving New York premieres are: Stephen Fischler and Joel Sucher’s “Dressing America: Tales from the Garment Center,” focusing on the post-World War II heyday of the garment district in Manhattan and the Jewish immigrant roots of the industry; Duki Dror’s “Incessant Visions: Letters from an Architect,” a meditation about architect Erich Mendelsohn, based on his letters and a memoir by his wife Louise, who helped him become the busiest architect in Germany after World War I; and Michal Tkaczynski’s “The Moon Is Jewish” telling the story of a Warsaw skinhead who discovers he has Jewish ancestry and undergoes a complete spiritual and physical transformation to become an Orthodox Jew.

Judy Lieff’s “Deaf Jam,” receiving its New York City premiere, explores the beauty and power of American Sign Language (ASL) poetry through the story of deaf teen Aneta Brodski’s bold journey into the spoken word poetry slam scene.  In a remarkable twist of fate, Aneta – an Israeli immigrant living in New York – meets and then collaborates with Tahani, a hearing Palestinian slam poet.

Other documentaries in the Festival include: Yasmine Novak’s “Lost Love Diaries,” a combination detective story and love saga in which a woman confronts the past when after 65 years she reads a diary sent to her by her first love on the day of her wedding to another man; “My Father Evgeni,” a moving portrait of filmmaker Andrei Zagdansky’s father, who was editor-in-chief of the Kiev Popular Science Film Studio; “The Queen Has No Crown,” Tomer Heymann’s poignant meditation on family and loss, using home movies as well as more recent footage shot over the past decade to navigate the intimate lives of five brothers and their mother; and Ronit Kertsner’s “Torn,” the remarkable journey of  an ordained Polish Catholic priest who discovers that he was born to Jewish parents, and, unable to renounce either identity, finds himself rejected by both religions and the state of Israel.

The New York Jewish Film Festival, Jan. 11-26, 2012

Detailed Program and Schedule Information {jathumbnail off}


The 20th New York Jewish Film Festival in Manhattan, Jan. 12-27, 2011; Official Lineup Announced

The 20th New York Jewish Film Festival in Manhattan, Jan. 12-27, 2011; Official Lineup Announced

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 […]