Billy Wilder used to joke about his former compatriots in Austria. He would say, “The Austrians are a marvelous people: they have convinced the whole world that Beethoven was Austrian and Hitler was German.” Axel Corti, a Paris-born, half-Italian, half-Austrian filmmaker, would have undoubtedly appreciated this jibe. Corti, who died of leukemia in 1993, spent his entire career as a film, theater and radio director putting the Austrian-Jewish connection under the microscope of his art with scathing results.
This year’s edition of the New York Jewish Film Festival has been an instructive experience. Even a program as large as this one cannot claim to be representative; there are simply too many Jewish filmmakers working in too many different political, socioeconomic and even geographical contexts to be given voice. However, a few tentative conclusions can be drawn, with the final handful of movies serving nicely to underline our findings.
Nefesh B’Nefesh is better known for its efforts to get North American Jews on planes to Israel, but last month it settled for driving more Internet traffic there. The organization recently hosted the first International Jewish Bloggers Convention at its Jerusalem headquarters. The conference, which featured keynote speaker former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — who doesn’t blog — attracted 200 Israeli-based bloggers (many of them Anglos) and 1,300 people around the globe who watched the live video feed.
Director Oren Moverman leans on his Israeli military experience in making his new film.
Special to the Jewish Week
‘The Messenger,” the critically acclaimed film now playing nationally, follows two U.S. Army casualty notification officers as they visit families to inform them that their loved ones have been killed in combat. Clearly, it is a subject ripe with political possibilities, but it is one director and co-screenwriter Oren Moverman knows well.