Film

‘Ida’ Takes Polish Filmmaker Back Home

Pawel Pawlikowski tells the story of a nun who discovers her Jewish roots.

05/06/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Lodz, the Polish city in which Pawel Pawlikowski has set his latest film, “Ida,” has a long and checkered past in both Polish and Jewish history. It is, Pawlikowski says, “a peculiar place.”

Agata Trzebuchowska as the young nun in “Ida.” Courtesy of Music Box Films

Israeli Films Continue To Challenge National Policies

Critical portrayals of Jerusalem are increasingly popular, at home and abroad.

05/06/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Every spring, as Israel Independence Day nears, I receive many requests from institutions seeking to screen a film that celebrates Israel. They’re not looking for one with a complicated or progressive view of Israel; they’re looking for a new, good old-fashioned, unquestionably Zionist film. As director of the Israel Film Center at The JCC in Manhattan, I try to see all the quality Israeli films, and every year I have a hard time finding such films to celebrate Israel Independence Day.

Ari Folman’s “Waltz With Bashir,” a critical look at Israel’s 1982 War in Lebanon. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classic

‘Ida’ Takes Polish Filmmaker Back Home

Pawlikowski tells the story of a nun who discovers her Jewish roots.

04/30/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Lodz, the Polish city in which Pawel Pawlikowski has set his latest film, “Ida,” has a long and checkered past in both Polish and Jewish history. It is, Pawlikowski says, “a peculiar place.”

"Ida" director Pawel Pawlikowski. Courtesy of Movie Box Films

Talking ‘Fading Gigolo’ With John Turturro

Veteran actor dishes on what it was like to direct Woody Allen.

04/25/2014
Jewish Week Correspondent
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John Turturro – not a Jew – has portrayed a number of memorable Jewish characters. In his latest film, “Fading Gigolo,” which he wrote, directed, and stars in, he plays a male prostitute named Fioravante who pretends to be a Sephardi Jew who comes into contact with the Satmar sect. He sat down to talk about what it was like to direct Woody Allen, whether Liev Schreiber’s payess in the film were real and why his sex scenes in the film weren’t as glamorous as you might think.

What's it like to direct the ultimate director's director? Jojo Whilden/Millennium Entertainment

A Young Girl In Mengele’s Grip

Growth-hormone experiments take on a sinister cast in Lucia Puenzo’s ‘The German Doctor.’

04/24/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Lucia Puenzo’s first feature film, “XXY,” served notice that another important voice was emerging from the New Argentine Cinema. Her third film, “The German Doctor,” which opens Friday, April 25, suggests that Puenzo’s voice has matured rapidly. Her artistic growth, no doubt, has been fueled by her multiplicity of activities. In a period of only 10 years, she has written and published five novels (including “Wakolda,” the basis for the new film), three feature films, three shorts and two TV mini-series. Granta chose her as one of the 20 best young Hispanophone novelists a couple of years ago and, although the competition is formidable, I suspect she will soon be recognized as one of Argentina’s most promising younger filmmakers as well.

Alex Brendumuhl as Josef Mengele and Florencia Bado as Lilith in "The German Doctor." Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films

From Sontag To ‘The Newburgh Sting’

Two documentaries at Tribeca continue HBO’s reputation for adventurous filmmaking.

04/23/2014
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It’s no secret that in recent years HBO Documentary Films has become one of the most reliable sources of funding and/or broadcasting for adventurous non-fiction filmmaking. But it’s worth restating that fact when two of its newest productions are on display in this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. (One hastens to add that Tribeca is, among the major American film festivals, one of the most prolific and creative programmers of documentary films.)

Susan Sontag in Nancy Kates’ “Regarding Susan Sontag.”  Dominique Nabokov

Humor In Unexpected Places

Polanski’s dark wit and a bleakly funny IDF tale on tap at this year’s Tribeca festival.

04/17/2014
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Note: This is the first of two stories on this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

There are many ways to be a Jewish filmmaker, just as there are many ways to be a Jew. If there is one thing that would seem to unite most Jewish directors working in the field (and some non-Jews who frequently visit Jewish themes) it might be humor. The humor may pop up in unexpected places or come from unlikely artists, but it’s there just the same. Consider some of the new films on offer in the first week of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

NYU chaplains Imam Khalid Latif, left, and Rabbi Yehuda Sarna in “Of Many.”  Samuel Adiv Cohen

For Single-Mom Clergy, Public Role, Private Path

New documentary chronicles stories of four women and their non-traditional choices.

04/08/2014
Culture Editor

While davening in her parlor office one sunlit morning several years ago, Rabbi Felicia Sol had a revelation: If she were to pursue her dream of becoming a mother even though she was single, she would still have the possibility of finding a husband — she might just be shifting the order around. The notion that pursuing parenthood on her own wasn’t all about loss proved to be liberating. Soon after, she went to see a doctor to explore possibilities. Rabbi Sol, one of the spiritual leaders of B’nai Jeshurun and one of the most prominent women rabbis in New York City, is now the single mother of a son and daughter.

Rabbi Felicia Sol, with her daughter in scenes from “All of the Above.” Courtesy of Diva Communications

The Dance Of Coexistence

Teaching ballroom dancing (and perhaps larger lessons) to Israeli Jewish and Arab pre-teens in Jaffa.

04/08/2014
Special To The Jewish Week

There is very little that a couple can do together in public that is more intimate than ballroom dancing. Even in its most chaste form, it requires two people to place one hand in the other’s hand, and one hand on the partner’s shoulder or waist. To do it really successfully, they have to look into one another’s eyes, and, in a sense, think as one.

Pierre Dulaine, instructs his young charges in “Dancing in Jaffa.”  IFC Films

‘Noah’ Co-Writer Stands Up For His Story speaks

Neuroscientist Ari Handel switched fields to write with former suitemate Darren Aronofsky.

04/01/2014
Jewish Week Correspondent

Ari Handel on set. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
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