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15th Jewish Film Festival

The 15th annual Portland Jewish Film Festival
This year's films, while they express specific Jewish experiences, resonate beyond their cultural inspiration and speak to ideas, experiences and issues that confront our common humanity. We invite you to explore, discover and acknowledge as we do the generosity of our individual program sponsors and patrons, whose ongoing investments make the Festival possible.

JAN 18 THUR 7 PM
FAMILY LAW
ARGENTINA 2005
DIRECTOR: DANIEL BURMAN
Burman's warm dramatic comedy chronicles a father and son as they struggle to come to know one another. Neurotic, thirty-something Ariel Perelman is a bored and faceless Justice Department attorney who lives in the shadow of his father, a colorful lawyer with a lively practice. Ariel begins to feel he is coming into his own when he marries a beautiful woman and has a child. However, in the midst of these changes, his father suddenly reaches out to him, confronting Ariel with some even more life-changing decisions. Rich with the flavors of contemporary Buenos Aires, FAMILY LAW offers a witty and poignant story about disjointed families and discovering the truth when it is nearly too late. This year's Argentine submission for the Best Foreign Film Oscar (102 mins.)
Tonight we welcome Janis Plotkin, former director of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, who will introduce the film.
Sponsored by the Jewish Family and Child Center

JAN 20, 21 SAT 6 PM, SUN 1 PM
RAPE OF EUROPA
US 2006
DIRECTORS: RICHARD BERGE, BONNI COHEn & NICOLE NEWNHAM
Based on Lynn H. Nicholas' book of the same name, RAPE OF EUROPA tells the astonishing story of the systematic theft, deliberate destruction and miraculous survival of Europe's art treasures during the Third Reich. Hitler, and co-cultural mastermind Herman Goering's epic calculations included not only the seizure and/or forced sale of works in personal collections, many of which have never been returned to their owners, but the shipment of entire museum collections to hidden bunkers. The story begins and ends with artist Gustav Klimt's masterpiece, the 1907 portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (a turn-of-the-20th-century Viennese hostess), recently awarded to the latter's 90-year-old niece and sold for a staggering $135 million to Ronald Lauder, the highest price (until just recently) ever paid for a work of art. (117 mins.)
Director Richard Berge will introduce the film at both screenings. Co-presented with Oregon Public Broadcasting, one of the film's production partners.

JAN 20 SAT 9 PM
TREMBLING ON THE ROAD
US 1993
DIRECTOR: SANDI SIMCHA DUBOWSKI
The landmark film TREMBLING BEFORE G-D (2001) shattered assumptions about faith, sexuality, and religious fundamentalism. Built around intimately-told personal stories of gay and lesbian Hasidic and Orthodox Jews, the film revealed a group of people who face a profound dilemma-how to reconcile their passionate love of Judaism and the Divine with the drastic Biblical prohibitions that forbid homosexuality. After its release, the film touched and transformed lives across the globe, generating poignant, funny, interesting and angry reactions and reflections on all the characters lives. TREMBLING ON THE ROAD documents the dialogues, protests, reactions, screenings and events in the wake of the film, revealing the impact of a potent piece of filmmaking on an equally potent subject. (39 mins.) Rabbi Steve Greenberg, featured in the film and the first openly gay Orthodox rabbi, will introduce and talk about the film. Cosponsored with the Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies, Portland State University.

JAN 21 SUN 4:30 PM
LONElY MAN OF FAITH:
THE LIFE & LEGACY OF RABBI JOSEPH B. SOLOVEITCHIK
US 2006
DIRECTOR: ETHAN ISENBERG
Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik was arguably the most influential rabbi of the 20th Century and indisputably the intellectual leader of Modern Orthodox Judaism in America. Isenberg's film charts Soloveitchik's life from his beginnings as the heir to a Lithuanian Rabbinic dynasty, to his unusual decision to pursue secular learning at the University of Berlin, his path to New York and Boston, and his subsequent rise as the leading Orthodox religious scholar of his time. Called simply "The Rav" by his followers, Soloveitchik ordained over 2,000 rabbis during his career, more than any other figure in Jewish history. More impressive was his unique recognition of the opportunities and perils life offered for Orthodoxy. While embracing modernity and pushing his movement to do so, he also stood as a stalwart for tradition. Walking that delicate line was no easy task, and frequently resulted in a kind of existential loneliness. By persevering he laid the foundation for a flourishing movement that continues to debate his legacy to this day. (99 mins.) Director Ethan Isenberg will introduce the film.

JAN 21 SUN 7 PM
TOOTS
US 2006
DIRECTOR: KRISTI JACOBSON
From the 1940s and well into the 1960s, everyone
who was anyone in New York City went to Toots Shor's legendary nightspot on West 51st Street. Athletes, journalists, movie stars and ordinary folk all mixed at the bar, reigned over by the saloonkeeper himself, Toots Shor. Larger than life, with abundant charm and a talent for friendship, Shor became an icon in New York's golden years, counting celebrities as diverse as Joe DiMaggio, Frank Gifford, Walter Cronkite, Jackie Gleason, and Frank Sinatra among his close friends. Director Kristi Jacobson's vivid, loving tribute to her grandfather (and an era) charts Toots's rise from the streets of Philadelphia-the only "Jew kid" in a largely Irish neighborhood-to the top of the heap and beyond. (85 mins.)

JAN 22 MON 7 PM
THREE MOTHERS
ISRAEL 2006
DIRECTOR: DINA ZVI-RIKLIS
Sixty years ago, triplets Rose, Flora and Yasmin were born into a wealthy Egyptian-Jewish family and blessed in person by King Farouk. Today, in Israel, the Haikim sisters live together in an apartment without men and without children: Rose, once a popular singer, dreams of a comeback; Flora has just retired from her work as a midwife and Yasmin is in urgent need of a kidney transplant. However their lives are clouded by secrets and lies from the past. The women need to clear their consciences and reach out to Rucha, Rose's only daughter. During this period of their lives, and that of Rucha's, change comes dramatically as hidden ghosts slowly appear, forcing the three sisters to confront their secrets and lies, and seek forgiveness. THREE MOTHERS touchingly calls to question the meaning of blood ties, marital loyalties, independence and motherhood itself. Winner of Best Actress and Best Cinematography Awards at the Jerusalem International Film Festival. (106 mins.)

JAN 23 TUE 7 PM
FROM SHTETL TO SWING
FRANCE/US 2006
DIRECTOR: FABIENNE ROUSSO-LENOIR
FROM SHTETL TO SWING explores the birth of American popular music by turn of the century immigrants, tracing the intermixing of Yiddish klezmorim with African-American melody and rhythms that created new versions of ragtime, stride, jazz and swing. Harvey Fierstein's lively narration, brought to life by an extraordinary assemblage of archival footage and music, chronicles the rise of vaudeville, Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, Hollywood and the Big Band era and such Jewish artists and entertainers as Al Jolson, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Fanny Brice, Sophie Tucker, The Marx Brothers, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and many others who transformed themselves into Americans by becoming the most popular media stars of their day. (58 mins.)
Sponsored by the Oregon Jewish Museum.
Followed by
Chagall: TO RUSSIA, ASSES AND OTHERS
France 2003
DIRECTOR: FRANCOIS LEVY-KUENTZ
Born in the shtetl of Vitebsk in tsarist Russia in 1887, Marc Chagall made his way to Paris, and then to New York to become one of the great artists of the 20th century. Levy-Kuentz's film retraces his life, much of the narrative drawn from Chagall's autobiography, "Ma Vie" (My Life) and unique film footage of Chagall being interviewed as he paints. Chagall's attempts to connect the Jewish traditions of his childhood to the artistic modernity of his time yielded a profoundly original body of work-from painting and stained glass to theater and ballet collaborations- both in and outside of the prevailing currents of modern art. As he said, "I chose painting because it seemed a window through which I could take flight -- to another world." (51 mins.)

JAN 24 WED 7 PM
MAURICE SENDAK
& ALL HIS WILD THINGS
US 1985
DIRECTOR: HERBERT DANSKA
Dubbed "the Picasso of children's literature," Caldecott-winning author and illustrator Maurice Sendak is renowned for "Where the Wild Things Are," "In the Night Kitchen" and "Brundibar" among many other cherished books. Perhaps not as well known is Sendak's work in theatre, film and television, including his incredible set designs for opera and ballet, as well as his writing of librettos. Danska captures the essence of a creative genius in this intimate documentary, revealing the profound influence of Sendak's Brooklyn childhood on his work, and the indelible impact of growing up with Jewish immigrant parents. (58 mins.)
PRECEDED BY
MAURICE SENDAK SHORTS
ALLIGATORS ALL AROUND (1978) From entertaining elephants to making macaroni, these animated alligators are throwing a jamboree with all the letters of the alphabet! Music composed and sung by Carole King in all three of the Nutshell Kids shorts. (4 min); ONE WAS JOHNNY (1978) Learn with Johnny how to count and avoid unwanted houseguests like monkeys and robbers. (3 min); PIERRE (1978) Pierre is so listless even a hungry lion can't chase his boredom away. How does apathetic Pierre finally learn how to care? (6 min); IN THE NIGHT KITCHEN (1987) In Sendak's renowned story, Mickey floats out of his bedroom at night and into a giant bowl of batter in the night kitchen. His scrumptious surreal journey has just begun! (6 min); WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE (1988) Max cries, "Let the wild rumpus start!" Sendak's best-loved children's book of all time comes to life in an animated adventure. (8 min)

JAN 25 THUR 7 PM
GARDEN OF THE
FINZI CONTINIS
ITALY 1970
DIRECTOR: VITTORIO DE SICA
Actor-turned-director Vittorio de Sica got his start making comedies in the Fascist era, and then became, along with Roberto Rosellini one of the major voices of Italian neo-realism with such films as SHOESHINE (1946), THE BICYCLE THIEF (1948) and UMBERTO D (1952). One of his most powerful films, he explores the human dimensions of anti-Semitism during the Mussolini regime. Dominique Sanda stars as the beautiful daughter of the aristocratic and Jewish Finzi-Continis family in 1938 Ferrara. As Mussolini increasingly models Fascist Italy like Germany, the family is slow to realize that their wealth and privilege will not insulate them from the forces of power. Their fall from grace and eventual doom is told with moving poignancy. Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1972. (95 mins.)

JAN 27 SAT 7 PM
CLOSE TO HOME
ISRAEL 2004
DIRECTOR: VIDI BILU
A coming-of-age tale about friendship, CLOSE TO HOME also offers a unique window on the Israeli female military experience and Israeli-Palestinian relationships in tense times. Smadar and Mirit, 18-year-old Sabra soldiers, are total opposites. Smadar, the quintessential bad girl, is boy-crazy and a recreational shoplifter. The introverted Mirit, on the other hand, wants to be the perfect soldier so she can be transferred and not posted "close to home," which everyone else hopes for. Assigned to a patrol in Jerusalem, their job is to stop Palestinians, check their identification and report their findings. The two, however, are much more immersed in the details of their own lives-boys, window-shopping and their evolving relationship-than their charge. Then one day, Jerusalem's political reality is forced upon them and their priorities change. (94 mins.)

JAN 28 SUN 4 PM
FATELESS
HUNGARY 2005
DIRECTOR: LAJOS KOLTAI
Based on Nobel laureate Imre Kertész's moving novel about his life in German concentration camps and his attempts after the war to reconcile his experiences, Koltai's award-winning adaptation is this year's Hungarian submission for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. Gyura, a 14-year-old Jewish boy from Budapest finds himself swept up by cataclysmic events beyond his comprehension and suddenly separated from his family. As a camp inmate, Gyura's existence becomes a surreal adventure in adversity, adaptation and survival. But when he returns home, instead of joy he finds alienation-from both his Christian neighbors, who turned a blind eye to his fate, and to those Jewish friends who avoided deportation and now want to put the war behind them. "Profoundly moving. A genuinely new way of looking at the Holocaust that is markedly different in tone from other such stories including SCHINDLER'S LIST and THE PIANIST. Speaks to the more profound dimension of the human condition."-VARIETY. Last year's Hungarian submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. (140 mins.)

JAN 28 SUN 7 PM
WHAT A WONDERFUL PLACE
ISRAEL 2005
DIRECTOR: EYAL HALFON
Israel's 2005 Oscar submission for the Best Foreign Language Film highlights the difficulties foreign workers experience in contemporary Israel. Halfon's multi-lingual ensemble work speaks eloquently about something common to us all: the need for human contact. In three stories, we meet a group of eclectic characters, from an ex-cop to a melancholic farmer to a Filipino caretaker, all of whom arrive at the same point in the desert. Acclaimed for its uniformly magnificent performances and wildly effective storytelling, WHAT A WONDERFUL PLACE is at once universal and specific. (105 mins.)
Sponsored by Congregation Beth Israel.
preceded by
THE TRIBE
DIRECTOR: TIFFANY SHLAIN
What does Barbie have to teach us about American Jewish identity? Shlain explains it all in her witty look at 5,000 years of Jewish history-and the all-American doll with the Jewish mother. (20 mins.)

JAN 29 MON 7 PM
I ONLY WANTED TO LIVE
ITALY/US/SWITZERLAND 2006
DIRECTOR: MIMMO CALOPRESTI
Not fully integrated into society until 1938, the fate of Italy's Jews is often overlooked. Of the nearly 7,000 people sent to concentration camps, only 837 returned alive. Using hundreds of hours of testimonies collected by Steven Spielberg and the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, Director Calopresti has sensitively edited the stories of nine survivors. Told with eloquence and composure, the individual stories of these remarkable men and women are woven together with personal photos and archival footage that add harrowing visual dimension to their searing memories. (75 mins.)
Preceded by
A SHTETL THAT'S NO LONGER THERE
NETHERLANDS/SPAIN 2004
DIRECTOR: HEDDY HONIGMANN
In Honigmann's loving film a mother tells the story of her family, which emigrated from Poland to Peru and now lives in Amsterdam, while preparing typical Jewish food. (25 mins.)


Advanced tickets available December 28 at www.nwflm.org

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