Joseph Cedar’s learning curve has been impressive. The New York-born Israeli filmmaker has made only three feature films to date, and each has been the Israeli representative to the Academy Awards. From his intelligent but uneven first feature, “Time of Favor,” through his sophomore effort, “Campfire,” to his new film, “Beaufort,” is a series of quantum leaps in assurance, control of tone, creative use of screen space and sheer cinematic intelligence.
Now in its 17th year, the New York Jewish Film Festival, which opens Jan. 9, is truly a fixture on the local film calendar, so much so that this year’s event includes one world premiere, 10 U.S. premieres and 12 New York premieres. If you subtract the seven retrospectives (see sidebar), that means that all but one of the 32 films in this year’s festival are so new that the prints are still wet from the lab.