New York Film Festival

Democracy, Jackson Heights Style

10/06/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Midway through its three-hour running time, there is a scene in Frederick Wiseman’s new documentary, “In Jackson Heights,” in which we see a few minutes of a typical workday in the office of Councilman Daniel Dromm. Two members of Dromm’s staff are fielding irate calls from constituents. We hear only their side of the conversations, so it takes a moment before it becomes clear what very local issue the callers are discussing. But it is impossible to miss the interplay of exasperation, concern and slowly eroding patience in the faces of Dromm’s long-suffering staffers.

George Robinson

Chantal Akerman, Pioneer Of Feminist Filmmaking, Dies At 65

10/06/2015 - 20:00

Belgian director Chantal Akerman, who pioneered feminist and experimental filmmaking, has died.

Families On The Edge

David Cronenberg and Martin Rejtman’s offerings at the N.Y. Film Festival rhyme with one another in startling ways.

09/30/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Note: This is the second of two articles on this year’s New York Film Festival.

A poker game in progress in Martin Rejtman's "Two Shots Fired."

Godard Goes 3-D, The Safdies Take To The Streets

‘Goodbye to Language’ and ‘Heaven Knows What’ tackle Hitler and heroin at New York Film Festival.

09/23/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Note: This is the first of two articles on Jewish-themed works in this year’s New York Film Festival.

Homeless heroin addicts and Hitler: Sounds like a typical opening week for the New York Film Festival, huh?

Lanzmann Loses His Distance

‘Shoah’ director’s latest, ‘Last of the Unjust,’ is an ethical lapse, says a longtime champion of his work.

02/17/2014 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

To understand how difficult it is to write this column, you have to consider my history with Claude Lanzmann. Of course, I have seen every one of his films. I have watched “Shoah” — nearly 10 hours long — five times. I have interviewed Lanzmann face to face on four separate occasions. That may not sound like a lot but it’s the longest episodic “relationship” I’ve had with a foreign filmmaker. And I have written about his work enthusiastically more times than I can count, at least a dozen times in 20 years for Jewish Week and that many again elsewhere.

Lanzmann at train station outside of Terezin. Courtesy of Synecdoche/Le Pacte

Closing With A Bang At Annual Jewish Film Festival

Strong final-week offerings include a meditation on Jews and Poles, Amos Gitai’s latest and a documentary on Jews living under the Shah

01/13/2014 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Note: This is the third of three articles on this year’s N.Y. Jewish Film Festival.

They truly saved the best for last. In a strong lineup of new films and restorations, this year’s New York Jewish Film Festival closes with three of its very strongest offerings — a beautiful, mysterious and austere meditation on the barbed relationship between Jews and Poles, Amos Gitai’s most accessible film in years, and a smart documentary on a little-known aspect of Israeli-Iranian relations.

Yuval Scharf in Amos Gitai’s “Ana Arabia.”

The Last ‘Elder’ Of Terezin

Claude Lanzmann’s portrait of Rabbi Benjamin Murmelstein is more advocacy than his previous Shoah works.
09/23/2013 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

A few years ago, it was noted in this space that the heroic age of  modernism in film, with its accompanying epic running times, had ended with the 1980s. However, it would appear that two of the world’s greatest documentary filmmakers, Claude Lanzmann and Frederick Wiseman, didn’t get the memo. Their new films, part of this year’s New York Film Festival, which kicks off on Sept. 27, are 218 and 244 minutes long, respectively. While neither Lanzmann’s “The Last of the Unjust” nor Wiseman’s “At Berkeley” are among the directors’ best work, each film has considerable merit, raises deeply troubling issues and rewards the patient and attentive viewer. (See Jewish Week website,, for review of Wiseman’s “At Berkeley.”)

Lanzmann, left, and Murmelstein in scene from “The Last of the Unjust.”

From A Haredi Family To Shin Bet Chiefs

N.Y. Film Festival features three Israeli offerings that encompass the personal and the political.
10/02/2012 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

In a recent interview in these pages, Richard Peña, the retiring director of the New York Film Festival, remarked on the explosive growth of the Israeli film industry during his quarter-century in that post. Appropriately enough, this year’s festival, celebrating its 50th anniversary, offers three examples of how the industry has matured.

Hadas Yaron and Yiftach Klein in Rama Burshtein’s “Fill the Void.”

French Dialogue, ‘Navajo’ Subtitles

NY Film Fest’s Jewish-themed offerings are moody works by European old masters; just don’t expect to understand everything.
09/28/2010 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

By a curious coincidence, the two new feature films in this year’s New York Film Festival that deal directly with Jewish themes are the work of two older masters of European cinema, neither of them Jewish: Manoel de Oliveira and Jean-Luc Godard. It would be hard to imagine two more dissimilar films than Oliveira’s “The Strange Case of Angelica” and Godard’s “Film Socialisme,” as even their titles suggest. Perhaps those differences are derived from the distance between their birth dates: 1908 in Oliveira’s case, 1930 in Godard’s.

Jean Luc Godard
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