The New Ronit Elkabetz

Two star turns for Reymond Amsalem at this year’s Sephardic Film Festival.

Special to the Jewish Week

Last year’s edition of the New York Sephardic Jewish Film Festival was an informal tribute to Ronit Elkabetz. This year’s event, the 16th annual festival, crowns her successor, Reymond Amsalem.

Reymond Amsalem in “My Lovely Sister,” above, and “Obsession.”

‘Belonging To The Land’

Documentarian Gideon Koppel explores the Welsh-Jewish connection.

Special to the Jewish Week

Gideon Koppel bristles a little when you call his lyrical debut feature film ‘sleep furiously’ a documentary.

“For me the film is a fictional construct,” he says. “I’m at loggerheads with the way in which many academics and critics use the word ‘documentary.’ For me [the documentary] has always been linked to the world of the lyrical, the poetic and the avant-garde.”

One of the amazing landscapes of the Welsh countryside from “sleep furiously.”  Courtesy of Gideon Koppel

Words As Weapons

The complex ‘Footnote,’ about Torah scholars, takes Joseph Cedar to another kind of battlefield: that of academic infighting and father-son resentment.

Special to Jewish Week

Judaism is unique among the Abrahamic faith traditions in giving pride of place to the study of sacred texts, even within the liturgy. The traditional morning service includes both the blessing for study of Torah and passages from the Talmud relating to the sacrifices offered in the Temple a couple of millennia ago.

Lior Ashkenazi as Uriel Shkolnik and Shlomo Bar Aba as Eliezer Shkolnik, the father-son Torah scholars in “Footnote.” Ren Mendel

On The Oscars, Talmud Scholars And Risky Filmmaking

An interview with ‘Footnote’ director Joseph Cedar.

Staff Writer

“Footnote,” the latest film from Joseph Cedar, an American-born Israeli director, will be released in U.S. theaters on Friday, March 9. But already the film has received enormous attention. It was a finalist for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars. (It lost to Iran’s “A Separation.”) But it has already won a big prize at Cannes and Best Picture at the Ophir Awards, Israel’s Oscar-equivalent. “Footnote” tells the story of two feuding Talmud scholars, a father and son, at Hebrew University. The younger one is more successful. Cedar, 43, spoke about the film this week from Los Angeles, where he was attending the Academy Awards.

‘Footnote’ director Joseph Cedar

Notes From The Underground

A steely moral complexity marks the work of Agnieszka Holland, whose new ‘In Darkness’ is set in the sewers of Nazi-era Lvov.

Special to the Jewish Week

When you ask Agnieszka Holland about the historical tensions between Jews and Catholics in her native Poland, she doesn’t have far to look for a reply.

“I don’t believe in stories that are sentimental,” says Holland, top. Above, scene from “In Darkness.” Sony Classics

‘We Favor Films About The People, Not The Disability’

‘ReelAbilities’ festival shines a spotlight on tough-minded movies about those facing real challenges.

Special to the Jewish Week

What is the largest minority group in the United States? Hint: it is the only minority group to which anyone may belong, a group that many of us will join with the passage of time, but a group that is woefully underrepresented in many elements of American life, including the arts.

A scene from the Chinese-made “Ocean Heaven,” part of the ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival.

Israel’s “Footnote” Gets Oscar Nod


(JTA) -- “Footnote,” Israel’s Oscar entry for best foreign-language film, was nominated for an Academy Award.

The nominations were released Tuesday by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“Footnote,” directed and written by Joseph Cedar, centers on the rivalry between a father and son, both famous Talmudic scholars in Jerusalem.

At Sundance, View Of Israel Ranges From Critical To Abysmal


PARK CITY, Utah (JTA) – For Israel fans, it's all pain and anguish this year at the Sundance Film Festival.

Unlike in years past at America’s top independent film fest, when feature films exploring the nuances of Israeli life offset some hard-hitting documentaries – such as in 2007 when the award-winning “Sweet Mud” contrasted with “Hothouse” – 2012 has no such leavening agents. At the venues in this mountainous ski town showing the films this week, the views of Israel range from critical to abysmal.

New York Jewish Film Fest’s Sweet Farewell

From the cafés of Paris to the Catskills, festival picks ruminate on the role of the Jewish artist in modernity.

Special to the Jewish Week

It isn’t hard to find a common theme uniting some of the more interesting entries in the final week of the New York Jewish Film Festival this year. From the cafés of Paris to the Catskills, the documentaries on display are ruminations on the role of the Jewish artist in modernity. One could even argue, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that the excellent Polish thriller “Daas” is about a Jewish artist. A con artist.

Scene from “Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskills Resort,” the festival’s closing-night film.

‘Extremely Loud’ Screenwriter On Turning The Novel Into A Film

Staff Writer

The screenwriter Eric Roth isn’t in want of an Oscar. He already has one for “Forrest Gump,” and has been nominated several more times for films like “Munich” and “The Insider.” But Scott Rudin, the producer behind Roth’s latest film, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” which opened in December in New York and Los Angeles to qualify for the Oscars, and gets a nationwide release on Jan. 20, has made no secret that he intends to win one. 

Eric Roth
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