‘Otherness’ Moves Beyond Israel

‘One Day After Peace’ subtly broadens the reach of The Other Israel Film Festival.
11/05/2012 - 19:00
Special to the Jewish Week

Emmanuel Levinas, one of the central Jewish thinkers of the 20th century, argued that by seeing the face of another we are forced to acknowledge our involvement with the Other. As Levinas writes in one of the most famous passages in his work, such a vision involves recognition of a shared humanity and a shared mortality.

“One Day After Peace” centers on the work of Truth and Reconciliation Commission in post-apartheid South Africa.

Are You My Mother?

With the birth of an orchestra, a baby mix-up and a surreal hiking trip, three films explore the Jewish condition.
10/22/2012 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

This weekend sees the theatrical opening of a rather oddly assorted trio of Jewish films: a thoughtful if rather conventional historical documentary, a melodrama that takes on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as literal family feud and a beautifully wrought mood piece that mixes lush visuals with starkly private emotional states to considerable effect.

Scene from Julia Loktev’s “The Loneliest Planet.”

The High Priestess of Anarchy

10/22/2012 - 20:00

“Anarchism,” the Lithuanian Jewish activist Emma Goldman predicted in her autobiography, “will make an end to the struggle for the means of existence.” In Lorna Lable’s one-woman show, “Emma Goldman: My Life,” a poor girl’s dream to free all of humanity from suffering and want comes vividly to life.

Lorna Lable as Emma Goldman. Gayle Stahlhuth

The Departed

Arnon Goldfinger’s new documentary often uses wit to examine Shoah’s effect on the ones who got away.
10/15/2012 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

Mishpokhe. Familia. Family. Oy.

Israeli documentary filmmaker Arnon Goldfinger knows from family. His first major film released in the United States was “The Komediant” (2002), about the great Yiddish entertainer Pesach Burstein and his extended family, seemingly all of which was also on the musical stage. His latest film, “The Flat,” which played Tribeca and opens theatrically on Oct. 19, forces him to focus closer to home, on his own (over-) extended family, and he does so to great effect.

A treasure trove of artifacts left behind by Goldfinger's grandmother.

‘Simon And The Oaks’ Has Too Many Branches

Swedish film, set during the Nazi era, suffers from inconsistency.
10/10/2012 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

The nuclear family breeds secrets, lies, resentment and anguish. The Jews have known that since Eve enticed Adam with a lunch snack. The entire book of Genesis is a catalog of such behaviors, and it could be argued that all Western literature has followed its example. It would be absurd to expect filmmakers to do otherwise.

In Lisa Ohlin's film, the lives of a working-class boy and the son of wealthy Jewish refugees intersect in World War II Sweden.

Magic, L’ Dor-V-Dor

N.Y. Film Festival documentary looks at the life of prestidigitator Ricky Jay.
10/09/2012 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

Once the walls of the ghetto came down, the range of career opportunities for Jews became similar to the one for non-Jews. Even with the burdens of anti-Semitic quota systems, the Jewish people have made a global impact in the physics, medicine, government, literature, the visual arts and — magic.

Magic, you say? Well, there was Harry Houdini, born Erich Weiss, a rabbi’s son but...
Yes, there was Houdini, but he was only the most prominent of many Jewish practitioners of the mysteries of prestidigitation.

Ricky Jay in scene from “Deceptive Practices.”

From A Haredi Family To Shin Bet Chiefs

N.Y. Film Festival features three Israeli offerings that encompass the personal and the political.
10/02/2012 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

In a recent interview in these pages, Richard Peña, the retiring director of the New York Film Festival, remarked on the explosive growth of the Israeli film industry during his quarter-century in that post. Appropriately enough, this year’s festival, celebrating its 50th anniversary, offers three examples of how the industry has matured.

Hadas Yaron and Yiftach Klein in Rama Burshtein’s “Fill the Void.”

The Holocaust As Family Affair

‘Six Million and One’ charts the emotional toll the Shoah has exacted on the filmmaker’s clan.
09/23/2012 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

The first image one sees in David Fisher’s new documentary “Six Million and One” is a crumbling stone doorway bridged by a spider web. The visual irony is striking, with the rough yellow stone breaking down, the wispy lacework sturdy and undamaged. That irony is, perhaps, at the center of Fisher’s film.

Retracing dad’s footsteps: Filmmaker David Fisher and his siblings at Mauthausen, top, and on park bench.

An Activist Voice In The Night

New documentary is valentine to WBAI’s Bob Fass.
09/10/2012 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

Bob Fass, who has hosted the pioneering “free-form” radio show “Radio Unnameable” on New York’s WBAI-FM since 1963, is a vivid and living reminder of a certain generation of Jewish radicals both cultural and political. “Radio Unnameable,” the motion picture that opens on Sept. 19, is a loving portrait of Fass and, quite consciously, of that generation.

A rising young actor, Bob Fass found a career, and a home, at WBAI-FM. Photos courtesy of Bob Fass

Despite Matisyahu, ‘The Possession’ Lacks Jewish Soul

Dybbuk film from Danish director disappoints.
09/03/2012 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

The Jewish people have a long tradition of interest in the occult and the supernatural — not that you’d know it from Hollywood’s version. Wonder-working rabbis animated the inanimate; the souls of the newly dead took over the bodies of the living. We did werewolves and demons — the whole haunted nine yards. (OK, Jewish tales are a little weak on vampires, although it’s not a stretch to read the Dracula story as anti-Semitic — another subject for another movie review.) From the legends of Lilith to the short fiction of I.B.

Matisyahu, left, Natasha Calis, Jeffrey Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick in scene from "The Possession." Diyah Pera
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