Film

Foreigners But Not Strangers

Film about unique south Tel Aviv school garners Oscar nomination.

02/09/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

To read the Israeli papers is to see a steady stream of stories bemoaning the country's public education system, especially those citing Israeli students' low test scores in science and math.

But American filmmakers Kirk Simon and Karen Goodman found a unique south Tel Aviv school that is doing all the right things with a dizzyingly diverse student body. Their documentary about the Bialik-Rogozin school, "Strangers No More," was just nominated for an Oscar in the documentary short category.

The Bialik-Rogozin school in S. Tel Aviv teaches a dizzyingly diverse group of youngsters, many the children of foreign workers

For Jewish-Kashmiri Filmmaker, ‘Identity Is Never Fixed’

Tariq Tapa’s debut film is in part a mirror of his complicated life.

02/08/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

Tariq Tapa had a complicated childhood. Not unpleasant, mind you, just unusually busy.

Bridging identities: Mohamad Imran Tapa in Tariq Tapa’s “Zero Bridge.” (The actor is a distant cousin of the filmmaker’s).

‘Confidence’ Man

Hungarian filmmaker Istvan Szabo and the nature of trust.

01/25/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

More than many filmmakers, Istvan Szabo understands issues of fear and trust viscerally. He and his parents, both of them Jewish doctors, survived the Holocaust in Hungary because friends hid them.

Scene from Istvan Szabo’s “Mephisto.”

A Gentler Richler In ‘Barney’s Version?’

01/19/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

Published four years before his death at 70, Mordecai Richler’s last novel, “Barney’s Version,” has a certain valedictory feeling, a summing-up at the end of the journey that is uncharacteristically devoid of the nasty edge of early works like “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.”

“Barney’s Version," a film adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s last novel

Realistically Speaking

Four documentaries at NY Jewish Film Festival —
from a look at haredi bus lines to a hip-hop deejay — approach reality on film very differently.

01/18/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

 Sometimes, after watching a really good documentary, I find myself wondering why anyone would want to make a fiction film when reality is so much more compelling, frightening, entertaining, funny and so on. I had that feeling several times while watching films from the last week of the New York Jewish Film Festival, and never more so than after viewing “Crime After Crime,” “The ‘Socalled’ Movie” and “Black Bus,” three of the strongest non-fiction films to turn up at this event in many years.

Josh Dolgin, aka Socalled, top, in “The ‘Socalled’ Movie.” A blogger named Shira models a sheitel for riding on the “Black Bus.”

Jewish Film Fest’s ‘Open Destiny’

Grace Paley documentary and Eran Riklis film top series at JCC and Walter Reade.

01/12/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

In one of her short stories, Grace Paley writes, “Everyone, real or invented, deserves the open destiny of life.” Such a splendid statement, the quotation turns up twice in Lilly Rivlin’s splendid new documentary on Paley’s life and work, “Grace Paley: Collected Shorts,” which plays in this year’s New York Jewish Film Festival. The sentiment behind the sentence is so open-handed and wholehearted that it could be applied to the best films in the festival, including Rivlin’s own offering.

Grace Paley and friends outside a draft board office during the Vietnam War in scene from “Grace Paley: Collected Shorts.”

‘Vir Bist Du, Romeo?’

‘Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish’ features a cast of young dropouts from New York’s chasidic community.

01/11/2011
Special to The Jewish Week

He was a Satmar dropout, a street kid getting by on credit card and airport baggage claim scams. She was a prodigal daughter, also from a Satmar family, knocking around as a student in Europe and Israel, asking the questions and plying the lifestyle no good chasidic girl should.

Lazer Weiss and Melissa Weisz in Yiddish retelling of star-crossed lovers tale.

Phil Ochs: No Direction Home

New documentary shows Phil Ochs caught between folk and rock.

01/04/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

It is undoubtedly simplistic to suggest that a single incident can shape the way a person lives his entire life. Even the survivor of a catastrophic accident is more than the accumulated scars and physical deficits thus incurred. But watching Kenneth Bowser’s new documentary, “Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune,” it is impossible not to register a story that the great singer-songwriter’s brother Michael recalls from their childhood in small-town Ohio.

Protest singer Ochs committed suicide at 35.

The Life And Times Of The Jewish Artist

Four NY Jewish Film Festival works explore tensions in the creative life.

01/04/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

The price one pays for being an artist is frequently sizeable. The call to the arts is often rooted in alienation and a sense of difference. To follow that path is to risk ostracism and penury. And other than your fellow artists, who else will understand your choices?

Alma (Barbara Romaner) and Gustav Mahler (Johannes Silberschneider) in scene from “Mahler on the Couch.”

Culture Group Rebuffs Bid To Condemn Boycotts

Fight at Foundation for Jewish Culture over film content spotlights increasingly testy, and muddy, issue.

12/28/2010
Staff Writer

In recent years David Eisner and Karen Lehmann Eisner, prominent funders of the Foundation for Jewish Culture, had become uncomfortable with the some of the films the organization helped produce.

The foundation has given grants to films like “Waltz With Bashir,” the Oscar-nominated Israeli film about the massacre of Palestinians in the 1982 Lebanon war, as well as a documentary the foundation funded this year about military tribunals in the Occupied Territories. Content like that, the Eisners felt, was beyond the pale of acceptable Israel criticism.

Theodore Bikel, renowned Jewish actor, took a stand this fall in support of the Ariel theater boycott.
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