Audiences School ‘The Sturgeon Queens’ Director

Instead of answering questions about her film, documentarian chats about brisket and babka.

11/24/2014 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

An independent filmmaker relishes the chance to present a new film to large, live audiences, so I was excited as I set off this year for Jewish Film Festivals and JCCs all over the country with “The Sturgeon Queens,” my documentary about the century-long history of the iconic Lower East Side smoked fish store Russ & Daughters.

Narrators for “The Sturgeon Queens.”  Rich White

Creating An Identity, However Difficult

Three offerings at DOC NYC deal with various searches for Jewishness.

11/10/2014 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

The complexities of Jewish identity — what it is, how it is determined/created/lived — lie at the heart of several films at this year’s DOC NYC film festival. Opening on Nov. 13 for its fifth year, DOC NYC offers a dauntingly wide range of non-fiction films, a category that is nearly as protean as Jewishness.

Scene from “Above and Beyond,” about Jewish volunteers in the Israeli air force during the 1948 war.

‘Sweet’ Spots At Other Israel Festival

A documentary about Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish and a dark comedy about the candy business on tap.

10/27/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Contemplating the eighth edition of the Other Israel Film Festival, which opens Nov. 6, it occurs to me that the event, which underwent a subtle shift in focus a few years ago, has become a richer, more interesting program as a result. While the festival originally sought to showcase films by or about the segments of the Israeli population that were neither Jews nor Palestinians (and hence shunted to the margins of our perception of the country), it now presents the reality of “otherness” in Israeli society.

Scenes from the offbeat dark comedy “Sweets,” about an Arab Christian candy entrepreneur. Courtesy of Other Israel Film Festival

For Young Polish Jews, ‘Return To A New Life’

Adam Zucker’s documentary looks at the rebirth of Jewish life through the lens of four women.

10/20/2014 - 20:00
Staff Writer

A veteran film editor and director-producer of several documentaries, all of which center on the African-American experience, Adam Zucker won a travel grant to Poland in 2008. He had not been there before, and had only distant family ties to the country.

Scenes from “The Return,” which premieres here this week.

For The Love Of Paris

The fate of the City of Light, and its landmarks, is at stake in ‘Diplomacy.’

10/07/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

It is the evening of Aug. 24, 1944, and Allied troops are headed for Occupied Paris. The Wehrmacht, commanded by Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz, are IS preparing to dynamite all the bridges in the city except the Pont Neuf, and all the landmarks. All that remains is for the order to be given.

Niels Arestrup as Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz and Andre Dussollier as Consul Raoul Nordling in "Diplomacy." Jerome Prebois

Dancing Towards Remembrance

10/07/2014 - 20:00
Culture Editor

Seventy years ago this week, four women prisoners took part in an act of heroic resistance at Auschwitz, for which they were later hanged. Ala Gertner, Roza Robota, Regina Szafirsztajn, and Estera Wajcblum, all Polish Jews, were instrumental in smuggling gunpowder from a munitions factory to leaders of the underground in Birkenau, the adjacent camp. Their co-conspirators managed to blow up a crematorium, damaging it beyond repair so it was never used again.

Part of Jonah Bokaer's dance/film installation that pays tribute to the heroic resistance of four women prisoners at Auschwitz.

Families On The Edge

David Cronenberg and Martin Rejtman’s offerings at the N.Y. Film Festival rhyme with one another in startling ways.

09/30/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Note: This is the second of two articles on this year’s New York Film Festival.

A poker game in progress in Martin Rejtman's "Two Shots Fired."

Memory, History And Albert Speer

Dani Gal’s video installation, ‘As from Afar.’

09/23/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

It would be hard to conceive of a more controversial figure in the Nazi inner circle than Albert Speer. One of Hitler’s closest confidantes, Speer was a master architect who had the ear of the failed-artist-turned-Führer. He was an integral part of the totality that was Nazi Germany, the chief creator of the Nazi public aesthetic, as well as the minister of armaments and munitions from 1942 on. Yet Speer was one of the very few high-ranking Nazis to declare his own guilt and shame publicly and to reveal the inner workings of the German government under Hitler in his memoirs.

In Dani Gal's "As From Afar," at The Jewish Museum, actors portray a post-World War II meeting.

Godard Goes 3-D, The Safdies Take To The Streets

‘Goodbye to Language’ and ‘Heaven Knows What’ tackle Hitler and heroin at New York Film Festival.

09/23/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Note: This is the first of two articles on Jewish-themed works in this year’s New York Film Festival.

Homeless heroin addicts and Hitler: Sounds like a typical opening week for the New York Film Festival, huh?

When A Hamas ‘Prince’ Turns

The complex relationship between a Palestinian spy and his Israeli handler forms the basis of ‘The Green Prince.’

09/15/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

As the great American journalist I.F. Stone once said, “All governments lie,” and they never lie more freely than when they are conducting the business of spying. For all the professions of national, professional and tribal loyalties that are earnestly voiced throughout Nadav Schirman’s documentary film “The Green Prince,” which opens Sept. 12, it is ultimately personal loyalty that governs the behavior of its protagonists. That outcome feels entirely appropriate in a film about the hallucinatory world of counter-intelligence, double agents, lies and betrayals that Mosab Hassan Yousef and Gonen Ben Yitzhak inhabit. When everyone around you is a professional liar, you have to trust the person who tells you the truth, however reluctantly.

Mosab Hassan Yousef and Gonen Ben Yitzhak as spy and handler in “The Green Prince.”  Courtesy of Music Box Films
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