‘Urban Tale’ Needs Renewal

Israeli entry in festival of directors’ first films falls flat.
02/26/2013 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Usually the prospect of yet another film festival in New York City wouldn’t fill me with gleeful anticipation. It’s easier to find a film festival here than an uptown bus. But the idea behind the First Time Fest, which kicks off its inaugural event on March 1, is a good one; it highlights directors’ first feature films.

Noa Friedman in the sex-obsessed “Urban Tale.”

A Real (Smoked) Fish Story

What would you do to inherit your grandfather’s salmon business? ‘Putzel’ provides a zany answer.
02/18/2013 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

The Upper West Side exerts a stronger gravitational pull than any black hole. Astronomers may not acknowledge this, but anyone who has lived between Central Park West and the Hudson, from 116th Street to Columbus Circle, can tell you this is true.

Walter “Putzel” Himmelstein (Jack T. Carpenter), right, with a disgruntled trout, played by Fran Kranz.

All In The Family At NewFilmmakers Series

From Brooklyn to Tel Aviv to Eastern Europe, the blood ties that bind.
02/16/2013 - 19:00
Special to the Jewish Week

It is billed, accurately, as a showcase for Jewish and Israeli films and directors, but the all-consuming power of family could just as easily be the theme of this month’s NewFilmmakers program at Anthology Film Archives. From Carroll Gardens to Borough Park as well as Tel Aviv and unnamed places in Eastern Europe, the films on display on Feb. 20 are all about the two-edged sword of blood ties; but their approaches to the subject are varied. With no disrespect to Count Tolstoy, even happy families are not all alike, so films about them won’t be either. all different, so films about them will be, too.

Luzer Twersky in Pearl Gluck's "Where Is Joel Baum?" Timur Civan

A Dark Fairy Tale In Occupied Germany

Cate Shortland’s ‘Lore’ is an unsettling coming-of-age story that renders judgment on Germany’s wartime crimes.
02/04/2013 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Towards the end of “Lore,” Cate Shortland’s brilliant new film, which opens Feb. 8, there is a moment that crystallizes the film’s concerns in a most unexpected way.

Saskia Rosendahl is startlingly self-possessed in the lead role. Photo courtesy Porchlight Film

‘From The Depths Of Despair To The Heights Of Hope’

The story of Col. Ilan Ramon and the Torah scroll aboard Space Shuttle Columbia.
01/21/2013 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

The Torah scroll was very small, maybe the size of a grown man’s hand. It had been read in a place unimaginable in a sacred text, inside the very precincts of hell, as part of a bar mitzvah ceremony in the unlikeliest and worst place on earth, Bergen-Belsen. Now it was being carried on a journey almost as incomprehensible.

Col. Ramon is at the center of PBS’ “Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope.”

‘New World Out There’ For Gays, Israel

Eytan Fox’s sequel to ‘Yossi and Jagger,’ a decade in the making.
01/21/2013 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Ten years ago, when his film “Yossi and Jagger” was released to wide acclaim, Eytan Fox had no thought of a sequel.

Ohad Knoller as Yossi in his post-IDF days.

Life Is A Cabaret

Understanding the Jewish past, in the form of a German bandleader in Israel and the theatrical world the Nazis destroyed in Berlin.
01/14/2013 - 19:00
Special to the Jewish Week

The musical thread that began this year’s New York Jewish Film Festival (with films about blues singer Doc Pomus and the iconic song “Hava Nagila,” among others) has persisted quite charmingly into the annual event’s final week.

Max Raabe’s Palast-Orchester in “Max Raabe in Israel.”

Two Takes On Mixed-Mood Comedies

‘Let My People Go!’ and ‘My Best Enemy.’
01/10/2013 - 19:00
Special to the Jewish Week

It could be argued that comedy is the most utterly subjective of film genres. A half-bright filmmaker can make an audience cry without much effort.

Ruben (Nicolas Maury), the pride of the Finnish postal service, in "Let My People Go!"

Light And Dark At N.Y. Jewish Film Fest

Week 2 offerings move from the Shoah to an Israeli counter-terrorism force to Joe Papp and ‘Hava Nagila.’
01/07/2013 - 19:00
Special to the Jewish Week

If the first week of the New York Jewish Film Festival was largely about music, both as reality and metaphor, the second is a spectrum that ranges from dark to light, 

Scenes from  “Numbered,” .

Svigals, Lerner Team Up On Score For Silent Film

Mix of klezmer and modernism as accompaniment to ‘The Yellow Ticket.’
01/01/2013 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Alicia Svigals, one of the great klezmer violinists working today, had written music for feature films and documentaries before, so she thought she knew what she was getting into when someone suggested she score a silent film. “The Yellow Ticket” is a 1918 German-made drama, restored under the auspices of the Foundation for Jewish Culture.

Silent no more: Pola Negri and Guido Herzfeld in the 1918 “The Yellow Ticket.”  Courtesy of Deutsches Filminstitut
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