Film

‘Generation War’ Hampered By Form

Five-hour WWII combat/Holocaust film too bound up in genres’ conventions.

01/13/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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There is no art without limits, as Orson Welles once observed. Creativity has its birth in constraint, and all art is bound by conventions. This is nowhere truer than in film genres, those collections of familiar images, settings, themes and tropes that serve as a guide for both filmmakers and audiences.

Ludwig Trepte and Katharina Schutter in "Generation War." Music Box Films

‘Waltzing’ Into The Future With Bashir's New Film

‘Waltzing With Bashir’ director’s new science-fiction film, five years in the making, is a confusing vision; films about Amy Winehouse, ‘the Jewish Cardinal’ and a Molly Picon retrospective.

01/07/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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This is the second of three articles on this year’s N.Y. Jewish Film Festival.

Ari Folman’s 2008 animated film “Waltz With Bashir” was a breakthrough effort on many levels, one of a series of Israeli films to be nominated for the best foreign-language Academy Award, and a tough-minded work that helped forge a new subgenre of animated documentaries; it was a film that confirmed what some of us knew for a long time — that a “cartoon” could be serious and demanding. Anyone with an interest in film was eagerly awaiting Folman’s next project.

BBC documentary about the late Amy Winehouse focuses on one of her concerts.

NY Jewish Film Festival Goes In Fresh Directions

‘Sorrow and the Pity’ director’s new film memoir is a highlight of first week of this year's festival.

12/31/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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Note: This is the first of three articles on this year’s N.Y. Jewish Film Festival.

Now in its 23rd year, the New York Jewish Film Festival, which opens on Jan. 8, is not only one of the oldest such events in the world, it is also becoming one of the biggest. With this year’s festival, the Film Society of Lincoln Center and The Jewish Museum are adding several sidebar events that will take them in some interesting new directions. Ultimately, what really matters is less the ambition of the programmers than the quality of the films they select.

Howie Mandel is one of the comics interviewed in Alan Zweig’s “When Jews Were Funny."

Teen Sex Drama: ‘Acts’ Of Desperation

Israeli entry into Tribeca film festival is well crafted but disturbing.

12/03/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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This year’s Tribeca Film Festival included three new films from Israel, a continuation of the nation’s seeming gold rush of quality filmmaking. One of those films, “S#x Acts,” has its theatrical debut in town Friday, Dec. 6. It is deeply troubling and more than little problematic.

Sivan Levy as Gili in “S#x Acts.”

New Cinematic Waves From Romania

Several Jewish-interest films in festival.

11/26/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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Romania might seem like an unlikely home for one of Europe’s most exciting cinematic “new waves.” On the other hand, “unlikely” is a word that applies to much of the country’s history.

Tim Plester, Harry Lloyd, Mark Strong, Vera Farmiga and Joe Armstrong in Nae Caranfil “Closer to the Moon.”

‘Unorthodox’ Filmmaking

Documentaries about rebellious Modern Orthodox teens and downtown photographer Saul Leiter are part of DOC-NYC festival.

11/12/2013
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Arthur Hertzberg once said that for Judaism to survive in the 21st century it had to be more than just “anti-anti-Semitism and ‘hooray for Israel.’” You could say the same about Jewish documentary films. Regular readers of these pages know that the bulk of non-fiction film with Jewish themes focus their attention on the Shoah and the Jewish state.

Lens on downtown Manhattan: Saul Leiter, right, with filmmaker Tomas Leach. Tomas Leach

Making Art Against The Odds

Surviving as artists and Jews in the Soviet Union, in ‘Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Enter Here.’

11/12/2013
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Midway through Amei Wallach’s sparkling new documentary “Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Enter Here,” an art historian is explaining the workings of one of Ilya’s museum installations. The center of the room is filled with large tables, forcing museumgoers to walk close to the walls on which various paintings are hung. “The center is already occupied, and you are forced into the margins,” the interviewee says.

Emilia and Ilya Kabakov in scene from a new documentary about the artists’ lives and works. Jacques De Melo/Gert Liter

Making Art Against The Odds

Surviving as artists and Jews in the Soviet Union, in ‘Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Enter Here.’

11/06/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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Midway through Amei Wallach’s sparkling new documentary “Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Enter Here,” an art historian is explaining the workings of one of Ilya’s museum installations. The center of the room is filled with large tables, forcing museumgoers to walk close to the walls on which various paintings are hung. “The center is already occupied, and you are forced into the margins,” the interviewee says.

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov in a scene from Amei Wallach's new documentary “Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Enter Here.” Jacques de Melo

‘We Are Inventing A Life’

‘Fringes: New Adventures in Jewish Living’ is an open-ended conversation about Jewish identity.

11/05/2013
Jewish Week Culture Editor
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Pablo Elliott, a Jewish organic famer who lives in rural Virginia, admits that sometimes his family’s Judaism looks as if “we’re making it up as we go along.” True, they improvise. But their celebrations of Shabbat and community are full of sincerity and devotion. He explains, “We are inventing, creating a life. Every generation does this.”

“I’m trying to do something that’s real life and not reality TV,” says Paula Weiman-Kelman. Debbi Cooper

Driving With Miss Layla

A film chronicling the embattled place of women in the Middle East is part of this year’s Other Israel Film Festival.

11/05/2013
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Famous documentary filmmakers fall into a few groups. There are the living masters like Frederick Wiseman and Albert Maysles who have earned deserved reputations as master craftsmen and storytellers. There are the self-promoters like Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock, who like to think they have invented themselves and their profession. (Errol Morris is sort of a cross between these two groups.) And there are the essayists, who range from the quirky-personal like Ross McElwee to the cerebral-philosophical like the late Chris Marker.

Layla Ibrahim Musa in a scene from “The Lesson,” which depicts her struggle to obtain a driver’s license. Courtesy Go2Films
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