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The 24th annual Boston Jewish Film Festival

The 24th annual Boston Jewish Film Festival will present 45 films from Nov. 7-19, ranging from an upbeat documentary about one of the world’s best known songs to edgy women’s films to an American classic hand-picked by a theatre giant to a shorts film competition to many exciting debuts from directors.

 

A worldwide selection of film from the U.S., Israel, Argentina, Canada, France, Germany, Nigeria, Russia and South Africa will screen at Greater Boston area theatres with panel discussions involving actors, directors and subjects heightening the experience.

 

“I can’t wait to share these exceptional works with Boston audiences,” says Amy Geller, who celebrates her first Festival as Artistic Director. “I’m particularly excited about the diversity of perspectives and themes represented in our program. We are also presenting a series of special programs such as ‘Favorite Films from the Famous,’ ‘Not a Doctor, Not a Lawyer’ and a Short Film Competition complete with cash prizes.”

 

“This is a celebration that includes not just films,” Geller says. “It’s a multi-sensory experience with sustenance for your heart, your head and even your soul.”

The Festival will present trailblazing features from first-time Israeli directors, such as Tamar Tal ("Life in Stills"), Maya Kenig ("Off White Lies"), Sharon Bar-Ziv ("Room 514"), and Lior Har-Lev ("We Are Not Alone"). “The quality of the films from Israel has completely blown me away,” Geller says. “It reminds me of the American Independent Film movement of the 1990s, which produced character-driven, thought-provoking work that pushed cinematic boundaries.”

 

"Life in Stills" opens The Festival. The heart-warming and sometimes heartbreaking Israeli documentary of love, courage and compassion tells the story of 96-year-old widow Miriam Weisenstein, who owns The Photo Shop, home to millions of her husband’s film negatives documenting Israeli history. A developer wants to take over the property, but Miriam and her grandson, Ben, work to save the shop. Director Tamar Tal will attend. Nov. 7, 7:30 PM, Coolidge Corner Theatre. (also screens Nov. 19, 7 PM, AMC Framingham)

 

The Mid-Fest Film is "Dorfman" starring Elliot Gould and Sara Rue. In this Los Angeles-based romantic comedy, television actress Rue (Less Than Perfect, Popular) plays Deb Dorfman, a mousy single woman, who caters to the whims of everybody else, including her widower curmudgeon of a father (Gould). But with a move from the sedate ‘burbs to the whirlwind of LA and some new-found self-confidence, she may just find Mr. Right. Nov. 14, 7 PM, Coolidge Corner Theatre. Gould has been invited to attend. (also screens Nov. 19, 7 PM, Hollywood Hits Premiere Theatres, Danvers)

 

Boston Closing Night features "Hava Nagila (The Movie)." Everyone from Dylan to Harry Belafonte to Elvis sang it. Aly Raisman, who will make a cameo video appearance, performed to it at the London Olympics. But this enlightening documentary explores the controversial, complex history of the bouncy melody created in the Ukraine and its relevance to Jewish culture. With cameos by Leonard Nimoy, Regina Spektor, Connie Francis and Glen Campbell. Director Roberta Grossman will attend. Nov. 18, 6:30 PM, Museum of Fine Arts. (also screens Nov. 19, 7 PM, Arlington Capitol Theatre)

 

More 2012 Highlights

 

• Favorite Films from the Famous – an annual series showcasing classic Jewish films selected and presented by local celebs. This year, Robert Brustein, founder of the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge and Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Conn., introduces Mel Brooks’ 1968 comedy The Producers. Nov.

15, 7 PM, Coolidge Corner Theatre.

 

• Not a Doctor, Not a Lawyer – What do you do if you’re Not a Doctor, Not a Lawyer? Consider "Dressing America: Tales From the Garment Center," a documentary about the New York garment district (Nov. 11, 4 PM, West Newton Cinema, Nov. 14, 1 PM, Coolidge Corner and Nov. 14, 2 PM, Cinema Salem), "The Art of Spiegelmen," a documentary about the artist behind "Maus," and "Every Tuesday: A Portrait of The New Yorker Cartoonists" (Nov. 8, 7 PM, West Newton Cinema) and "Pretty Old" (Nov. 11, 6 PM, West Newton Cinema), about a Fall River businessman who launches a beauty pageant for women over 58.

 

• Films Competition. Our young adult program showcases seven groundbreaking short films, including a town in Russia wanting to erect a statue of Woody Allen ("Woody Before Allen") and an animation about the visit to a Jewish day camp by rural Canadian youths, who were taught the Holocaust was a hoax ("The Basketball Game"). The audience will watch the films and vote for the winners in the second annual competition. Cash prizes – $1,500 first place, $1,000 second place. Nov. 13, 7 PM, Somerville Theatre.

 

• Female Helmers – Four women-directed shorts from "Of Birds and Boundaries," an experimental documentary with floating black-and-white images in which the filmmaker engages a 25-year-old Hasidic married man in taboo phone chats to an Israeli animation, "Catherine the Great," about a woman from Moldova who thinks she’s going to Israel to clean homes. Nov. 12, 3 PM Coolidge Corner Theatre. Director Annie Berman ("Of Birds and Boundaries") will attend.

 

• Premieres - The line-up contains 1 world premiere, 2 North American premieres, 3 U.S. premieres, 8 East Coast premieres and 18 New England premieres.

 

The Festival is New England’s largest Jewish cultural event, with last year’s attendance at almost 10,000 people.

 

Festival Locations, Tickets, Sponsors

Venues are the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, West Newton Cinema, Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, AMC Framingham, Arlington Capitol Theatre, Cinema Salem, Hollywood Hits Theatres in Danvers, Showcase Cinema de Lux Patriot Place in Foxboro, Somerville Theatre and Theatre 1 at Revere Hotel Boston Common in Boston.

 

The Festival’s website offers film descriptions and schedule information. Tickets can be purchased through www.bjff.org.

 

The Festival offers two pass options: the all-access Friends Pass at $225 and the REELPass, a $30 3-film pass.

 

Tickets for most films are $12 for general admission and $11 for seniors, students and current members of The Boston Jewish Film Festival, MFA, Coolidge Corner Theatre and WGBH. Discount tickets for groups of 10 or more formed in advance are available at $9 per person. For more information, or to request a mailed brochure, contact the Festival office at info@bjff.org or 617-244-9899 x200.

 Major Festival sponsors include NEA Art Works, The Boston Foundation, Cambridge Trust Company, CBIZ Tofias, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, the Consulate General of Israel to New England, the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Staples

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