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

A Measure Of Mercy

‘The Farewell Party’ casts a compassionate and respectful eye on the indignities of Alzheimer’s.

05/18/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

The Disease-of-the-Week movie tends to be a cheap and easy way for artists to assert their virtues. Who could possibly take offense at a film, or for that matter a charity fundraising pitch, that denounces cancer or heart disease? As long as no one raises questions about the environmental, economic or socio-political bases of diseases, as long as we all agree to talk only about “innocent” victims of illness, nobody will complain.

Aliza Rozen as Yana, Levana Finkelshtein as Levana, Ze’ev Revah as Yehezkel, Ilan Dar as Dr. Daniel and Rafael Tabor as Raffi.

Taking His Shots

Argentine-Jewish director Martin Rejtman on comedy, the New Argentine Cinema and fiction writing.

05/11/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

It was a situation out of one of his films.

Martín Rejtman sat down to answer questions for an e-mail interview while he waited for his plane from Hong Kong to New York in the departure lounge Sunday. Then his computer seized up. Eventually he found himself working on a communal machine in the departure lounge, typing hurriedly as the time for boarding approached.

Martin Rejtman’s films are characterized by taciturn, deadpan humor. Courtesy of Cinema Tropical

To Ban Or Not To Ban Nazi Films?

Felix Moeller’s ‘Forbidden Films’ raises that thorny question.

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

During the Nazi era, the German film industry produced over 1,200 feature films. After the war, some 300 of them were banned by the Allied occupying forces. Today, 40 of those films are still banned in Germany. The only permitted screenings of them take place in scholarly settings, and unauthorized showings are punishable by law.

Scene from Gustav Ucicky’s Nazi propaganda film “Homecoming,” in “Forbidden Films.”  Courtesy of Zeitgeist Films

Sins Of The Fathers

Tribeca documentary looks at complicated Nazi family legacies; plus, riding the Empire Builder across the Great Plains with Albert Maysles.

04/20/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Although Robert DeNiro, who was one of its founders, recently disclosed that he thought the Tribeca Film Festival would be a one-shot deal, the event has hung on and grown every year. This year’s festival, currently running all over lower Manhattan, is no exception, with several new sidebar events focusing on new media.

Horst von Wachter, Philippe Sands (back to camera) and Niklas Frank at the site of a mass murder of Jews by Nazis. Tribeca Film

Love Across A Jewish Divide

Maxime Giroux’s quietly powerful ‘Felix and Meira.’

04/13/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

We live in an age of bombast, pointless excess and noise. If you don’t find enough of those elements in the political culture, check out your local multiplex. One result of the rule of cacophony in 21st-century America is that quiet, contemplative work frequently gets lost, overwhelmed in the marketplace by flash.

Meira and her husband Shulem (Luzer Twersky). Courtesy of Metafilms

Right Of Return

The legal saga of a famous work of Nazi-looted art.

03/30/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

I am not qualified to comment on which road surface takes one to hell, but I will state unequivocally that the superhighway to mediocre cinema is paved with the noblest of intentions. The more serious the subject, the more earnest the filmmakers, the greater the chance for a cure for insomnia. Solemnity is not, in and of itself, a guarantee of profundity.

Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds star in “Woman in Gold,” about the fight over a famous Klimpt painting.  Robert Viglasky

Getting Beyond The Woody Allen Model

Noah Baumbach’s ambitiously genre-bending ‘While We’re Young.’

03/23/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

The central characters in Noah Baumbach’s films have a high degree of tolerance for their own ambivalence and an unsurprising indulgence for their rampant solipsism. In that respect — and the unstated but pervasive Jewishness of the atmosphere surrounding them — they bear an uncomfortable resemblance to Woody Allen’s protagonists. What sets them apart is the fact that Baumbach has a healthy critical distance from them and, while he treats them with a certain affection, he never embraces their self-involvement with the enthusiasm of the Woodman.

Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts play a documentary-making couple, free spirits, in film about midlife crises.  Jon Pack, A24

Nurturing Poetry In A Prose World

Nadav Lapid’s ‘The Kindergarten Teacher’ serves up some tough lessons about Israeli culture.

03/16/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Nadav Lapid’s first feature film, “Policeman,” was a startling, terse essay in futility, pitting a group of obsessive anti-terrorist cops against a no-less committed and equally out-of-control radical cell in a showdown that underlined the absurdity of empty, self-aggrandizing gestures. His new film, “The Kindergarten Teacher,” playing in this year’s New Directors/New Films series opening this week, would at first glance seem to be as utterly unlike that debut as could be possibly imagined.

Nira (Sarit Larry), who plays an Israeli kindergarten teacher. Courtesy of New Directors/New Films

Sephardic Culture, Through The Generations

Three diverse films at annual festival worthy of theatrical releases.

03/09/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

It is an absurd mistake to think there is such a thing as “Sephardic” culture. On the contrary, there are many Sephardic cultures, almost as distinct from one another as fingerprints, certainly as different as the similarly variegated Ashkenazi cultures.

Daniel Gad as Kabi in Nissim Dayan’s “The Dove Flyer.”  Courtesy of Sephardic Film Festival
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