Activist Cinema

In week two of the NY Jewish Film Festival, activism and justice seeking is a theme that binds.

01/19/2016 - 15:16
Special To The Jewish Week

To the extent that one can identify a running theme in this year’s New York Jewish Film Festival, which runs through Jan. 26, it might be the ways Jews have managed to negotiate a tricky divide; many protagonists in the festival’s films are balancing quietist assimilation in non-Jewish societies with the compulsion to activism that underlies the biblical injunction to seek justice.

Emmanuelle Devos as Simone Veil, France’s minister of health in the government of Jacques Chirac. Jewish Film Festival

Carrying ‘That Destruction’ In Their Genes

‘Son of Saul’ filmmaker and star on what went into making the intense Sonderkommando story set in Auschwitz, and the controversy it engendered.

12/15/2015 (All day)
Special To The Jewish Week

László Nemes knew that when it came time to make his first feature film he wouldn’t have trouble finding a subject.

The Holocaust, in his native Hungary.

Director László Nemes and Géza Röhrig on the set of “Son of Saul.” Photo by Ildi Hermann, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

The Real-Life Jewish Debauchery Behind ‘The Night Before’ Christmas Movie

11/19/2015 - 19:00

Director and writer Jonathan Levine (“The Wackness,” “50/50”) may have grown up in Jew-centric Manhattan, yet he recalls feeling somewhat like an alien every Christmas.

From left, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in Jonathan Levine’s “The Night Before.” Columbia Pictures

Punch And Counterpunch

At this year’s Other Israel Film Festival, Zionism and coexistence collide in the spotlight.

10/26/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

This has been an autumn in which all the news from the Middle East suggests that the entire population of the region has gone quite mad. Whether it has been Jews burning babies, 12-year-old Palestinians stabbing Israeli kids of the same age, or the prime minister shifting the blame for the Shoah away from Hitler, the past several months have been a nightmare for anyone who cares about Israelis or Palestinians.

“Censored Voices,” based on Amos Oz’s interviews with soldiers after the Six-Day War. Courtesy Music Box Films

What Remains: Remembering Chantal Akerman

10/13/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

In one of his finest poems, “Of Poor B.B.,” Bertolt Brecht suggests that eventually all that will remain of our cities and our presence in them is the wind that blows through them. It is hard, watching the opening shot of Chantal Akerman’s last film, “No Home Movie,” not to think of that prediction. The film opens with a very long take of a small tree standing up against a loud and stiff wind in a desolate desertscape.

Chantal Akerman: Her family’s Holocaust background colored her films. Getty Images

Dov Charney, The Play

Oren Safdie’s controversial ‘Unseamly’ probes the dark side of the garment industry.

10/12/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Other than show business, no American industry is as identified with Jews as the garment industry, which employed more than a million Jews at the turn of the 20th century and provided an outlet for the talents of many of the world’s most famous fashion designers at the turn of the 21st. But for playwright Oren Safdie, son of the Israeli architect Moshe Safdie, the clothing industry has a dark underside that exploits and objectifies women.

Gizel Jimenez as Malina, Jonathan Silver as the Dov Charney stand-in, Ira Slatsky, and attorney Adam in scene from “Unseamly.”

Inside A Sonderkommando’s Shoes

‘Son of Saul’ places the audience ‘in the middle of the killing machine’; Nuremberg documentary, ‘The Memory of Justice,’ restored after 40 years.

10/07/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Death may not be, to borrow Paul Celan’s famous construction, “a master from Germany,” but for Jewish filmmakers of a certain age, the ashen shadow of the crematoria is never far away. More than other filmmakers, perhaps, they are acutely aware that close behind them are the beating wings of the angel of death.

Geza Röhrig as Auschwitz Sonderkommando Saul Ausländer in “Son of Saul.” Courtesy of N.Y. Film Festival

Yiddish Still Alive In Cinema

Rich film offerings at Kulturfest.

06/09/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

The Kulturfest calendar is happily overflowing with opportunities to enjoy Yiddish-language film. Not surprisingly, there are numerous documentary bows to the dear departed Yiddish theater of Second Avenue and several films about the legacy of Sholem Aleichem. There is a sprinkling of silent films, including Edward Sloman’s 1925 epic of assimilation vs. identity, “His People,” and “The Yellow Ticket” (1918), distinguished chiefly by Pola Negri’s star turn and Alicia Svigals’ splendid new score.

Scene from Samy Szlingerbaum’s 1980 “Brussels-Transit.”

Of Cows And The Conflict

Two documentaries at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival move through the minefields of Israel and the West Bank.

06/01/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

A Palestinian classroom and an Israeli one at the center of “This Is My Land." Courtesy of Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Matters Of Identity, Mideast Style

The opening and closing night offerings in the Israel Film Center Festival deal with a similar theme in very different ways.

05/25/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

In the turbulence of the contemporary Middle East, a little thing like personal identity is fragile, evanescent and in jeopardy. That would seem to be the message of the opening and closing night films on display at this year’s weeklong Israel Film Center Festival, which begins June 4.

Director Eran Riklis, whose new film is “A Borrowed Identity.”    Courtesy of Israel Film Center
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