Film

Catalan Film Puts New Spin On Spanish Anti-Semitism

‘The Stigma?’ leads the 17th annual Sephardic Film Festival.

03/11/2014
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At this stage of Jewish history, one might think that the last thing needed is a documentary that traces the ideological roots of ant-Semitism. We should know all this stuff by now, right? But “The Stigma?,” the new Catalan film that has its U.S. premiere as part of the 17th New York Sephardic Jewish Film Festival, which begins this week, puts that history in a subtly different context that makes all the difference.

Right, the poster for Martí Sans’ “The Stigma?” Below,  “The Rabbi’s Cat.” Courtesy of Sephardic Film Festival

Disabilities Film Festival Making Big Strides

Sixth installment brings subject of deafness to the fore.

03/04/2014
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Six years ago, when he was putting together the inaugural ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival, Isaac Zablocki sensed he was on to something.

Tova, a matchmaker stricken with muscular dystrophy, is the central character in “Do You Believe in Love?”

‘She’ll Help You Live A Happier Life’

Doc featuring Alice Herz-Sommer, world’s oldest Holocaust survivor, wins Oscar just days after her death.

03/04/2014
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Los Angeles — In her 110 years, Alice Herz-Sommer was an accomplished concert pianist and teacher, a wife and mother — and a prisoner in Theresienstadt.

Alice Herz-Sommer, the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary. “Music is God,” she would say.  JTA

The Battle Of Stalingrad, In 3-D

Fedor Bondarchuk’s ‘Stalingrad’ tries to balance the epic with the intimate.

02/25/2014
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Vasily Grossman’s monumental novel “Life and Fate” is surely one that, like its inspiration “War and Peace,” defies easy adaptation to the movie screen. Frederick Wiseman’s “The Last Letter” took a masterful minimalist approach, using a single chapter from the 900-page volume and turning it into a monodrama showcasing Catherine Samie as a Jewish doctor recounting the coming of the Nazi murder machine to her hometown. The BBC turned “Life and Fate” into an eight-hour radio drama anchored by Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant. And Russian television tackled it in 2012 in a nine-hour miniseries.

Fedor Bondarchuk, left, filming “Stalingrad.” Wikimedia Commons

Lanzmann Loses His Distance

‘Shoah’ director’s latest, ‘Last of the Unjust,’ is an ethical lapse, says a longtime champion of his work.

02/18/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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To understand how difficult it is to write this column, you have to consider my history with Claude Lanzmann. Of course, I have seen every one of his films. I have watched “Shoah” — nearly 10 hours long — five times. I have interviewed Lanzmann face to face on four separate occasions. That may not sound like a lot but it’s the longest episodic “relationship” I’ve had with a foreign filmmaker. And I have written about his work enthusiastically more times than I can count, at least a dozen times in 20 years for Jewish Week and that many again elsewhere.

Lanzmann at train station outside of Terezin. Courtesy of Synecdoche/Le Pacte

Still Up And At It: One Of The Original 'Monuments Men'

In wake of new movie, Harry Ettlinger, 88, joins with his successors in intensified push to recover stolen art.

02/11/2014
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Harry Ettlinger, the only survivor of the original handful of Monuments Men assigned by the U.S. army in 1943 to hunt for Nazi-looted artwork and help return it to its owners, is once again helping families reunite with their prized art collections.

Henry Ettlinger, left, one of the Monument Men, with attorney Mel Urbach. Courtesy of Mel Urbach

‘Monuments Men’ Reignites Debate

Star-studded film steers clear of furor surrounding formation of art-focused team in ’43; Roosevelt’s priorities at time questioned by Jewish groups.

02/05/2014
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The George Clooney movie that premieres Friday, “The Monuments Men,” tells the story of the 350-member team of professors, art historians and museum curators who scoured Europe for the millions of dollars worth of art looted by the Nazis. But there is a backstory worth talking about — the furor over the creation of the team in June 1943 touched off from those concerned about the fate of European Jews.

Paintings or people?  Image via teaser-trailer.com

Films Shine Light On Jewish-Polish Relationship

Best of the movies in two series touch on the tangled ties.

02/05/2014
Special To The Jewish Week

By an amusing coincidence, Polish seems to be the movie flavor of the month in February. With Lincoln Center hosting a program of “Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema” and BAMCinematek offering “Kino Polska: New Polish Cinema” anyone with even an interest in one of the most important national cinemas of the last 75 years should be satisfied.

Scene from Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s “Austeria/The Inn,” about Jews seeking refuge from Cossacks during WWI.

Isaac Hertz’s ‘Life Is Strange.’

A new film offers a child’s-eye view of pre-Shoah Jewish life.

01/23/2014
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The red flags probably should go up during the opening credits to “Life Is Strange,” a new documentary opening on Jan. 24. Anytime a movie opens with a voiceover in which the director asks, “I’m not a filmmaker, why did I make this film,” an audience can be forgiven if it, in turn, asks why it is watching it.

The poster for “Life Is Strange.” Lookback Productions

Film As Community Building In Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Israel Film Festival at 10.

01/22/2014
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Most film festivals exist to showcase outstanding works of cinematic art, frequently with a specific theme or to highlight a region or national cinema. The Brooklyn Israel Film Festival would, at first glance, appear to be more of the same. But Hedda Kafka, who has been curating the program for all 10 years of its existence, has something else in mind, a mission that goes beyond the festival’s programming focus.

Hedda Kafka, curator of the Brooklyn Israel Film Festival, which celebrates its 10th year this week.
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