Film List
Wed, 09/11/2013

Ongoing. Cinematters at the JCC in Manhattan. As noted above, the JCC is relaunching its already admirable film program with a new focus on movies with a strong social message. Among its fall screenings are advance previews of “Zaytoun,” “Aftermath” and “Inequality for All,” a profile of former cabinet member Robert Reich. As before, there will be a very strong Israeli presence as well, including a celebration of Shemi Zarhin’s films and a sneak preview of “The Zig Zag Kid,” from David Grossman’s novel. JCC in Manhattan (76th Street and Amsterdam Ave.).

Sept. 22: “Sukkah City.” The almost too-aptly named Jason Hutt directed this charming documentary about the competition held a few years ago in which architects, artists, designers and others offered whimsical, ecological and aesthetic variants on the traditional enclosure for the Feast of Booths. A free public screening at Union Square’s North Plaza will be followed by screenings and discussion with the filmmakers at the JCC in Manhattan on Sept. 23 and 24.

Sept. 23: “First Cousin, Once Removed.” Alan Berliner continues to explore the nature of the Jewish family, his own in particular, and the idea of shared memory in this superb feature film about his cousin and mentor, the poet and translator Edwin Honig. Honig is struggling with Alzheimer’s and the film documents his battles with the most basic elements of language and the past. HBO.

Sept. 27: New York Film Festival. The festival begins its second half-century with an insanely rich smorgasbord that includes not only the main event but also side event  that range from new media to old masterpieces, from documentaries to the avant-garde. Lots of Jewish filmmakers, including new work from the Coen Brothers, Ben Stiller, Frederick Wiseman and Agnieszka Holland. But the most exciting news is the premiere of a new three-and-a-half-hour feature from Claude Lanzmann; “The Last of the Unjust” is the director-journalist’s rumination on the fates of Adolf Eichmann and Benjamin Murmelstein, the last Jewish elder of Terezin. Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center.

Oct. 21: Gold Coast Film Festival. Now in its third year, this L.I.-based event includes a major focus on Israeli film. This year’s event will also feature live performances by a lot of stand-up comedy veterans, including Paul Provenza, Eddie Griffin and Susie Essman. Gold Coast Arts Center (Great Neck) and theaters in the area.

Nov. 1: “Aftermath.” Controversial new film by Władysław Pasikowski, who co-wrote Andrzej Wajda’s “Katyn,” is the first Polish film to confront post-WWII anti-Semitism. The film’s male lead received death threats from right-wing nationalists and the film has been pulled from some local theaters in Poland. Lincoln Plaza (62nd St. and Broadway).

Nov. 1: “Forced March.” A 1989 Holocaust-themed film that slipped through the cracks when it was originally released. Directed by Rick King, the film centers on an American TV actor (Chris Sarandon) who is forced into some powerful self-examination when he is cast as the great Hungarian-Jewish poet Miklos Radnoti, who was killed on a death march from the camps. Quad Cinemas (34 W. 13th St.).

Nov. 13: “Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Enter Here.” Ilya Kabakov was a Ukrainian Jew born during the Stalin-engineered famine of 1933. He survived in large part because he — literally — stumbled into the Leningrad School of Art, but he never forgot how his family and he suffered, and the horror they endured fueled his brilliant visual art. Needless to say, he couldn’t exhibit such works in the Soviet Union, but he soldiered on, and one of the results is this new documentary on his life and art; it was directed by Amei Wallach. Film Forum (209 W. Houston St.).

Nov. 14: The Other Israel Film Festival. The lineup for the seventh edition of the festival was not available at press time, but a couple of titles that have been announced are intriguing: a new film by the seasoned documentarian Anat Zuria (“Black Bus”) about a Palestinian woman who has repeatedly failed her driver’s test, and “Arabani,” the first Israeli Druze-made feature film. JCC in Manhattan (Amsterdam Ave. and 76th Street) and other venues.

Nov. 15: “It’s Better to Jump.” A new documentary portrait of the northern Israeli city of Acre/Akka, an ancient town now being torn apart by economic pressures and social change. Quad Cinemas (34 W. 13th St.).