Dir. Julia von Heinz (2013, Israel/Germany) Is it possible to set a German-Jewish romantic comedy in the still-long shadow of the Holocaust? The answer, obviously, is “it’s complicated.” When Berliner Hanna schemes her way to Israel to pad her resume through her estranged mother’s volunteer organization, she (predictably) finds herself drawn to Itay, the adorable(…)
Dir. Ofer Kapota, Natalie Chen, Hadar Sitvuk (2013, Israel) Screens with Hanna’s Journey In 1920s Palestine, back before statehood, when Tel Aviv was emerging as a real city from its shtetl and Arab village roots, there was a struggle going on. It wasn’t between Jews and Arabs, though you could certainly find those issues emerging.(…)
Dir. Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider (U.S./Cuba, 2014) For Mica Jarmel-Schneider, the plans to normalize relations between the U.S. and Cuba are exciting news — albeit a bit too late. As his Bar Mitzvah approached several years ago, the athletic San Francisco teenager mulled various community-service projects before hitting on the idea of sending baseball(…)
Dir. Nissim Dayan (Israel, 2014) Based on the book “The Dove Flyer” by Eli Amir, “Farewell Baghdad” (a.k.a. “The Dove Flyer”) recounts in dramatic detail the disintegration of Iraq’s Jewish community. Established during the Babylonian exile in 586 BCE, Iraq’s Jewish community withstood thousands of years of changing history and served as the seat of(…)
Four films: Facing Fear, Summer Vacation, The Seder, and Zazaland from three countries: The U.S., Canada and Israel highlight the way gay life has become a part of regular life for so many Jewish families. Each of these four films approaches homosexuality in a different way. Facing Fear (Dir. Jason Cohen and Steven Okazaki, U.S.,(…)
Dir. John Lollos (U.S., 2014) Based on Theodor Bikel’s acclaimed stage play “Sholom Aleichem: Laughter through Tears” and narrated by the Emmy-winning Alan Alda, director John Lollos’ double-portrait musical documentary attempts to preserve Yiddish culture through song and dance, blending the stories of two revered Jewish icons: Sholom Aleichem and Bikel himself, perhaps the greatest(…)
Dir. Barry Avrich (U.S., 2013) David Steinberg’s the funniest guy you hardly know. Many comedians today see Steinberg as the man who gave them their craft. Departing from the Borscht Belt humor of their fathers, even powerhouses such as Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David look at Steinberg as the guy who gave them permission to(…)
Dir. Lana Citron (U.K., 2012) “Hannah Cohen’s Holy Communion” is a sweet, playful telling of a young girl who craves acceptance and adventure. When Hannah’s friend heads off in a fancy white dress to participate in holy communion, giddily explained to Hannah as “the best day ever,” Hannah embarks on a mission to join in(…)
Dir. Cameron Levin (U.S., 2014) Often times a tragedy can bring out the best in people. Such is the case with Cheryl Stumbo, one of the survivors of the shooting at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle in 2006. Stumbo, who then worked as the Federation’s marketing director, endured multiple surgeries and setbacks in the(…)
By Anthony Weiss, JTA World News Service LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Although it’s now well entrenched in the Hollywood ecosystem, the Sundance Film Festival remains a venue for some of the film industry’s more offbeat voices and still largely unknown talent — and a place for boldfaced names to redefine themselves. Jewish subjects and artists again will(…)
By Emily K. Alhadeff, Associate Editor, The Jewish Sound Fresh out of Israel and already scooping up a first place award at the Tribeca Film Festival is “Zero Motivation,” a darkly delightful girl-buddy comedy about the banality of daily life in Israel’s defining institution, the army. “M*A*S*H” meets “Orange is the New Black” meets “Office Space,”(…)
By Boris Kurbanov, Special to The Jewish Sound Last October, America’s favorite travel guru Rick Steves left for Israel with one goal: To “show both narratives” and help people in the West better understand the players involved in the Holy Land. There, he filmed his latest TV travelogue, “Rick Steves’ The Holy Land: Israelis and(…)
On Feb. 14 each year, many Americans watch “Casablanca” to celebrate Valentine’s Day. As time goes by, the Jewish influences on the Oscar-winning 1940s romantic film become more apparent. Jews involved in the production of “Casablanca” includec Murray Burnett, the author of the play on which the movie was based, director Michael Curtiz, screenwriters(…)
A family film whose most ardent admirers will be children, â€œThe Zigzag Kidâ€ is fueled by primal adolescent urges. Not the ones youâ€™re thinking of, but the pressing need to comprehend the past, navigate the present, and manipulate the future.
Wisely shunning a staid narrator in favor of archival audio and TV interviews with the late impresario, augmented with passionate recollections by the likes of Roscoe Lee Browne, Christopher Walken, Mandy Patinkin and playwright David Hare, the filmmakers create a vivid impression of a man whose mÃ©tier was in-person communication.
Wladyslaw Pasikowskiâ€™s extraordinary â€œAftermathâ€ is a rare, delicious example of a filmmaker fearlessly exposing a grievous chapter in his or her countryâ€™s history.