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19th Annual 2010 New York Jewish Film Festival Official Lineup

By Maria Esteves - January 10, 2010

The 19th Annual 2010 New York Jewish Film Festival (NYJFF10) commences January 13-28, 2010, at the Walter Reade Theater. The festival presented by The Jewish Museum and The Film Society of Lincoln Center, annually showcase world cinema that investigates, records, and celebrates the Jewish experience. This year's festival lineup includes over 20 features, documentaries, and shorts, along with panel discussions, gala receptions, and special events (Opening Night, Closing Night). For further information and to purchase tickets, please call 1.212.875.5601 or visit http://www.filmlinc.com.

NYJFF10 Official Lineup:

OPENING NIGHT U.S. Premiere of SAVIORS IN THE NIGHT (Unter Bauern: Retter In Der Nacht), directed by Ludi Boeken will be held Wednesday, January 13, 6:15 PM.

CLOSING NIGHT New York Premiere of WITHIN THE WHIRLWIND, directed by Marleen Gorris will be held Thursday, January 28, 8:45 PM.

NYJFF10 FEATURE, DOCUMENTARY & SHORT FILMS

AHEAD OF TIME, directed by Bob Richman, born in Brooklyn in 1911, Ruth Gruber had an extraordinary career as a foreign correspondent and photojournalist spanning seven decades. The first journalist to enter the Soviet Arctic (in 1935), she escorted Holocaust refugees to America in '44, covered the Nuremberg trials in '46, and reported on the plight of the ship Exodus in '47. In this riveting documentary Gruber recounts her adventures with gentle humor and deep insight. USA | 2009 | 73 min. | NYJFF10 U.S. Premiere.

AJAMI, directed by Scandar Copti & Yaron Shani, a teenage worker from the Occupied Territories desperately tries to raise money to help his ailing mother. A Jewish police detective struggles with the disappearance of his brother. And an affluent Palestinian and his Jewish girlfriend dream about the future. As these stories intersect, we witness the dramatic collision of different worlds. Israel/Germany | 2008 | 120 min. | 2009 Israeli Academy nominee of five Ofir awards including Best Picture, Israel's submission to the 82nd Academy Awards.

THE AXE OF WANDSBEK (Das Beil Von Wandsbek), directed by Falk Harnack, this gripping drama set in 1934 follows a man who is paid by the Nazis to serve as a public executioner and goes on to be rejected by his community.  The Axe of Wandsbek considers the role that common citizens played in Nazi crimes. East Germany | 1951 | 111 min. | NYJFF10 New York Premiere (restored print).

BAR MITZVAH, directed by Henry Lynn, a mother miraculously survives a shipwreck and shocks the family by appearing at her son’s bar mitzvah. Giving up his wife for dead, the husband has remarried a scheming gold-digger. Starring the legendary Boris Thomashefsky in his only film performance, this melodrama not only features wails and moans, but also classic songs, vaudeville jokes, and fancy dancing. USA | 1935 | 83 min. | NYJFF10 New York Premiere (restored print).

BERLIN ’36, directed by Kaspar Heidelbach. Germany/UK | 2009 | 110 min. | NYJFF10 U.S. Premiere.

EINSATZGRUPPEN: THE DEATH BRIGADES (Les Commandos De aa Mort), directed by Michaël Prazan. France | 2009 | 180 min. | NYJFF10 U.S. Premiere.

EYES WIDE OPEN (Eynayim Pekuhot), directed by Haim Tabakman, an ultra-Orthodox butcher in Jerusalem and a dedicated husband and father, hires Ezri, a handsome student, as his apprentice. When his time with Ezri comes at the expense of his family life, Aaron faces threats from neighbors and town elders. Israel | 2009 | 90 min. | NYJFF10 New York Premiere.

FORGOTTEN TRANSPORTS: TO POLAND ( Zapomenuté Transporty: Do Polsko), directed by Lukás Pribyl. Czech Jews deported by the Nazis to camps and ghettos in Eastern Poland’s Lublin region. Using meticulous research methods and declassified archival footage and photographs, Pribyl delves into the psyche of individuals on the run. Of the nearly 13,000 Czech and Moravian Jews deported to Poland, only 50 survived; several provide testimony for the first time. Czech Republic | 2009 | 90 min. | NYJFF10 New York Premiere.

GEVALD!, directed by Ron Ofer and Yohai Hakak. This astonishing documentary juxtaposes the lives of two of Israel’s most prominent ultra-Orthodox leaders. Shmuel Chaim Pappenheim is an anti-Zionist radical activist who organizes mass protests against the secular state. The late Avraham Ravitz was a former IDF soldier and a longtime Knesset member who worked within the system to advance his constituency’s religious agenda. This film closely follows them as the 2006 elections approach. Israel | 2009 | 50 min. | NYJFF10 New York Premiere.

GRUBER’S JOURNEY (Calatoria Lui Gruber), directed by Radu Gabrea. Suffering from severe allergies, Italian journalist and consul Curzio Malaparte must navigate the outrageous bureaucracy of Nazi-occupied Romania as he desperately searches for a Jewish doctor named Josef Gruber. This involving drama with elements of farce is based on the experiences of Malaparte, a disaffected supporter of fascism. Romania | 2008 | 100 min.

HAPPY END, directed by Frans Weisz. One hour above ground is worth more than an eternity underneath it.” So says patriarch Simon as family and friends gather around him. Meanwhile, the younger generation of this much-haunted Jewish Dutch family steps forward. Frans Weisz (Qui Vive, NYJFF 2002) returns with the final chapter of his dramatic trilogy, in which a circle of friends and family (and at least one ghost) struggle with the traces of World War II, deep secrets, and their intertwined relationships. Netherlands | 2009 | 87 min. | U.S. Premiere.

HAPPY JEWS, directed by Jonathan Rozenbaum, a young filmmaker reflects on a reunion of Polish Jews who emigrated as a result of the anti-Semitic campaign in 1968. Israel/Poland | 2008 | 6 min. | NYJFF10 U.S. Premiere.

HERSKOVITS AT THE HEART OF BLACKNESS, directed by Llewellyn Smith. This brilliant documentary examines the politics and power brokering associated with cultural history. USA | 2009 | 57 min.

A HISTORY OF ISRAELI CINEMA, directed by Raphael Nadjari. Presented in two parts, investigates over 70 years of Israeli cinema. The journey begins with the Zionist propaganda of the 30s, 40s, and 50s, establishing Jewish life in Palestine on film. The 60s introduced the fiction era, influenced by European and American cinema. In the late 60s and 70s, Israeli cinema tried to form its unique and local identity, when directors, born and raised in Israel, appeared onstage. During the 80s, Israeli cinema became an important means of political expression. In the 90s and the 2000s, we start hearing a diversity of voices, representing the different cultures forming Israeli society, and the filmmakers begin searching for individual poetic expression. The film includes interviews with filmmakers and researchers from different eras. Israel | France | 2009 | 207 min. | NYJFF10 New York Premiere.

HUMAN FAILURE (Menschliches Versagen), directed by Michael Verhoeven. A documentary reveals the expropriation and sale of Jewish assets that benefited innumerable citizens of the Third Reich. Using documentation from recently opened German archives and riveting interviews with archivists, historians, and descendants of Jewish families who lost apartments, bank accounts and property, Verhoeven uncovers involvement at all levels, from tax officials to merchants to the next-door neighbors. Germany | 2008 | 91min. | NYJFF10 New York Premiere.

THE JAZZ BARONES, directed by Hannah Rothschild. A descendant of the famous Jewish dynasty, Baroness Pannonica “Nica” Rothschild de Konigswarter abruptly leaves her family and creates a new one among celebrated jazz musicians in postwar New York. She goes on to become Thelonious Monk’s close friend and muse, a patron saint for the bebop world. Documentary filmmaker Hannah Rothschild delves into her great aunt’s biography, Monk’s troubled mental health, and the pair’s different backgrounds. Featuring illuminating interviews with Quincy Jones, Sonny Rollins, Clint Eastwood, The Duchess of Devonshire—and the voice of Helen Mirren as Nica. UK | 2009 | 90 min. | NYJFF10 New York Premiere.

LEAP OF FAITH, co-directed by Stephen Z. Friedman and Anthony Benjamin. Four families experience the difficulties of abandoning their traditions and embracing Judaism in this groundbreaking documentary. Subjects include former Messianic Jews in Colorado; a recent bat mitzvah whose admission to a Jewish high school is challenged; a single mother and U.S. Army reservist whose 10-year-old son is deeply conflicted over religious and filial allegiances; and a motivated Trinidadian nanny in New York. USA | 2009 | 95 min. | NYJFF10 New York Premiere.

LEON BLUM: FOR ALL MANKIND, directed by Jean Bodon. This powerful documentary tells the story of a prominent French leader—a Jew who at different times was prime minister of France and a prisoner in the Buchenwald concentration camp. Blum devoted his life to improving the well being of French workers and was an early champion of women’s rights. In 1936, he became prime minister; during his time in office, he led the Popular Front. In 1940, his socialist views and Jewish heritage placed him in jeopardy. The Vichy government sentenced him to five years in Buchenwald. After the war, Blum was welcomed home by the French people and was reelected prime minister. France | 2009 | 58 min. | NYJFF10 U.S. Premiere.

MARY AND MAX, directed by Adam Elliot, is a tale of an extraordinary epistolary relationship between Mary Dinkle, a chubby, lonely eight-year-old girl in the suburbs of Melbourne, and Max Horovitz, a 44-year-old, severely obese, Jewish New Yorker with Asperger’s Syndrome. Featuring the voices of Eric Bana, Toni Colette, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Barry “Dame Edna” Humphries. Australia | 2008 | 92 min. | NYJFF10 New York Premiere.

THE PERETNIKS (Perecowicze), directed by Slawomir Grünberg. Alumni of the Yiddish-language Peretz School recall their adolescence in Lodz before the 1968 anti-Semitic campaign. The Peretzniks never fully said goodbye to Poland or their beloved schoolmates and teachers. Documentary filmmaker Grünberg gathers the diaspora of alumni to share memories of friendship,
crushes, mischief, and the trauma of forced exile. Poland/U.S. | 2009 | 92 min. | NYJFF10 U.S. Premiere.

PINHAS, directed by Pini Tavger. A nine-year-old son of Russian immigrants in Israel seeks out the warmth and companionship of his religious neighbors. Israel | 2008 | 32 min. | NYJFF10 New York Premiere.

PRRRRIDE, co-directed by Eitan Efrat and Sirah Foighel Brutmann. A young Israeli performs as a one-man marching band while relating his mother’s fears about his military service. Netherlands/Israel | 2008 | 3 min. | NYJFF10 New York Premiere.

PROTECTOR ( Protektor), directed by Marek Najbrt, is a stylish drama focusing on the marriage of radio journalist Emil (Marek Daniel) and his Jewish wife Hana (Jana Plodková), a famous film star. Emil seizes a chance at career advancement, becoming the official mouthpiece of the Reich, in order to offer a measure of protection to Hana. Their fraying relationship reaches a crisis point after the assassination of SS Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich by Czechoslovak paratroopers. Czech Republic | 2009 | 98 min. | NYJFF10 New York Premiere.

ULTIMATUM, directed by Alain Tasma. a young couple in Jerusalem declares battle with each other while Iraq threatens Israel with the possibility of chemical warfare. Luisa, a beautiful French-Italian student , her tempestuous lover Nathanaël, and their friends seal rooms, don gas masks, and wait in fear. Starring French heartthrob Gaspard Ulliel, the glamorous Jasmine Trinca, and an ensemble of Israel’s most talented actors , including Hana Laszlo, Lior Ashkenazi, and Sarah Adler. France/Israel/Italy | 2008 | 101 min. | NYJFF10 New York Premiere.

VALENTINA’S MOTHER ( Ima Shel Valentina), co-directed by Matti Harari and Arik Lubetzky. After resisting her son’s attempts to find live-in help, Paula agrees to hire Valentina, a young Polish housekeeper. Speaking and singing in Polish, the two enjoy each other’s companionship until Paula’s repressed memories of the Holocaust start to emerge. Based on a novella by Israeli writer Savyon Liebrecht, this haunting drama features strong performances and an unforgettable ending. Israel | 2008 | 75 min. | NYJFF10 New York Premiere.

WITH A LITTLE PATIENCE, directed by Laszlo Nemes, is a finely crafted short that shows an enigmatic woman at work while a man waits for her. Hungary | 2008 | 14 min. | NYJFF10 New York Premiere.

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