The Boston Jewish Film Festival turns twenty five this milestone year. Screening in multiple venues in and around Boston, the dates are November 6th through the 18th.
“The Festival has been making people think, laugh, feel, love, and dream for a quarter of a century,” says Artistic Director Amy Geller. “I am so proud and honored to be part of this rich cultural legacy.”
This year, there are forty six films from thirteen countries including Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and the Netherlands, and, of course, many from Israel and the U.S.; forty films are Boston area premieres.
Geller is particularly proud of the many films with local connections. “The New England area with its vital history of documentary filmmaking is also incredibly fruitful for Jewish cinema.” UNORTHODOX, made by Nadja Oertelt and Anna Wexler, who met as MIT undergrads and live in Boston, has its world premiere November 10th at the ICA. The tongue-in-cheek mockumentary YOUR GOOD FRIEND, also a world premiere November 10th at the Coolidge, stars Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, formerly of Congregation Beth El of the Sudbury River Valley. Finally, THE DEWEY STONE CONNECTION: FROM EXODUS TO INDEPENDENCE, the Closing Night film on November 17th at the MFA, celebrates the late Dewey Stone, a Zionist philanthropist in 1940s Brockton, MA, and “an unsung hero for Israel.”
The 25th year promises to be an expanded program for all Festival goers. “There’ll be more fun elements to heighten the Festival experience and reach out to a wider audience — more family programming, young adult programming, local celebrities, food, music and social opportunities.”
Programs include The Family Film Series, back by popular demand, with screenings for families with children age eleven and up, including THE ZIGZAG KID and JERUSALEM, a 3D IMAX® film at the Museum of Science.
BJFF FreshFlix – Not Your Bubbie’s Festival, a festival within a festival for the 20-40s crowd, kicks off with the 3rd Annual Short Film Competition. The audience will pick the winning shorts via text voting. FreshFlix also features the first BJFF midnight movie ever: Israel’s hit thriller, BIG BAD WOLVES. In addition, there are opportunities for young adults to engage, discuss, meet the director and schmooze before and after screenings.
LGBTQ Shorts Program: OUT Loud is a dramatic and emotional series of LGBTQ short films from Israel, Canada and the U.S. They will be screened at the ICA with Keshet moderating a panel discussion.
Diaspora Jews: Spotlight North Africa features three documentaries that shed new light on the fascinating but little-known history of Jews in Egypt, Morocco and Algeria. Today, there are very few Jews living in these North African countries, but there was a time when Jews thrived alongside their Muslim neighbors. The films explore what life was like for these Jewish communities, as well as the circumstances under which they emigrated.
Favorite Films from the Famous asks: which classic Jewish films have influenced local celebrities? Esteemed Poet Laureate, essayist and literary critic Robert Pinsky presents TEN FROM YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS, a hilarious compilation of sketches from the legendary and live 1950s television program, starring a riotous ensemble lead by comic genius Sid Caesar.
But it’s not just about throwing more options at viewers, Geller explains, “I also want to create more opportunities for artistic engagement and expand and strengthen community participation.” As a result, the Festival is launching the first BJFF Community Leadership Award, honoring a distinguished leader from greater Boston who has demonstrated a commitment to social justice and to improving our community.
The inaugural award recipient is Lisa Simmons, founder of the Color of Film Collaborative and co-producer of the Roxbury International Film Festival. The award will be presented on November 10th at the screening of the civil rights documentary THE LAST WHITE KNIGHT.
The Festival kicks off this very special year with a Silver Celebration on Sunday, November 3rd from 6-9:30 pm at the Ritz-Carlton Boston. Founding board member Shoshana Pakciarz and longtime trustee Barbara Resnek will be honored. The celebration will include a cocktail reception and dinner, an exclusive preview of festival films and a presentation by acclaimed Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr from his most recent book Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame.
The Boston Jewish Film Festival, a not-for-profit arts organization, celebrates the richness of the Jewish experience through film and media. Throughout the year, the Festival engages and inspires the community to explore the full spectrum of Jewish life and culture.
Venues are AMC Framingham, Arlington Capitol Theatre, Brattle Theatre, Cinema Salem, Coolidge Corner Theatre, Hollywood Hits Theatre, Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Museum of Science IMAX, Showcase Cinema de Lux Patriot Place, Somerville Theatre and West Newton Cinema.
Film descriptions, schedule and ticket information and sales are available now at bjff.org.
Tickets are on sale via the website. All films, with the exception of Special Events, are $14 general admission; $12 for seniors, students and members of the BJFF, Coolidge Corner Theatre, Institute of Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts and WGBH. Special Events include Opening Night (November 6th), Mid-Fest Film (November 13th) and Boston Closing Night (November 17th): $26 General Admission/$24 Discount.