7/5/20. The William and Mildred Levine Building, 1200 Edgewood Avenue [Photo: David Kramer] The Rochester Jewish Film Festival will not be seen at the JCC. It’s gone virtual!
Rochester Jewish Film Festival goes virtual!
With movie theaters across the country (and around the world) currently closed for obvious reasons, film festivals, like concerts, operas, plays, and other performances, have gone virtual.
So, what would have been the special 20th anniversary edition of one of Rochester’s most popular, widely attended film events, the JCC Ames Amzalak Rochester Jewish Film Festival, will instead be a virtual “mini-fest at home.” It includes six films available for viewing on-line, plus three “film talks,” live discussions via Zoom.
Each year, the festival committee screens a large number of films and chooses the best two dozen or so for the festival. The committee was well into this process when the virus hit, and the six in the mini-fest are among those selected for the now-postponed full festival. Post-film discussions – a chance to meet and talk with people who made a film or are subject experts – are one of the ingredients that makes a film fest special. The virtual fest will include three of these.You can find complete information on the schedule, ordering tickets, etc., at RJFF.ORG , but here are the most important facts.
The mini-fest begins on July 5. Buy tickets via the above website. Then you’ll get an e-mail with a link 1 hour before the film is available to watch. You’ll have 48-hours to watch once each film becomes available. Films can be streamed on any “smart” device: a smart TV, a desktop or laptop computer, a tablet, or even a smart phone. The fest website has all the easy instructions you’ll need.The films and viewing schedule are:
PICTURE OF HIS LIFE Sunday, July 5, 4pm – Tuesday, July 7, 4pm
Director: Yonatan Nir, Dani Menkin | Israel | 2019 | 72 min | English, Hebrew, Inuit (w/ subtitles) | Documentary
World renowned wildlife photographer Amos Nachoum has one final photographic dream remaining – to photograph a Polar Bear underwater, while swimming alongside it. The film, produced by Nancy Speilberg and directed by award winning filmmakers Yonatan Nir and Dani Mankin, follows Amos in the Canadian Arctic as he prepares for his ultimate challenge. As the journey unfolds, so does an intimate and painful story of dedication, sacrifice and personal redemption.
Winner Best Audience Award – San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 2019
ZOOM FILM TALK Monday, July 6, 8pm
Director Dani Menkin in conversation with Rochester’s own Jack GarnerA link to join this Zoom webinar will be sent with the film link.
INCITEMENT Monday, July 6, 4pm – Wednesday, July 8, 4pm
Director: Yaron Zilberman | Israel | 2019 | 123 min | Hebrew (w/ subtitles) | Narrative
This psychological thriller dramatizes the political and personal motivations behind Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin’s assassination in 1995 by Jewish extremist Yigal Amir. In a carefully researched portrayal, the unsettling tragedy is told through the perpetrator’s eyes.
Israel’s Best Foreign Language film submission – 2020 Academy Awards
Winner Best Film – 2020 Ophir (Israeli Oscar) Awards
THE CROSSING Tuesday, July 7, 4pm – Thursday, July 9, 4pm
Director: Johanne Helgeland | Norway | 2019 | 90 min | Norwegian (w/ subtitiles)
A WWII story suitable for kids and family viewing? Sounds impossible, but The Crossing shows how to do it. Led by ten year old Gerda, four Norwegian kids, including her brother Otto and their Jewish friends Sarah and Daniel, must escape to neutral Sweden on their own. But German soldiers are close behind, and Otto has been mesmerized by Nazi propaganda. Exciting, involving, and beautifully photographed in actual locations, The Crossing is both a classic suspense story and an ode to the imagination, resilience, and courage of children.
FIDDLER: MIRACLE OF MIRACLES Wednesday, July 8, 12:01am – Friday, July 10, 11:59pm
Director: Max Lewkowicz | USA | 2019 | 90 min | English | Documentary
STOP! Don’t read this title and say “I’m all Fiddlered out; I don’t need anymore.” That’s what the Festival Committee thought – until they saw the film and, without exception, said “It must be shown.” Extraordinarily entertaining and informative, it proves how much more there is to the Fiddler story, from the complexity, richness, and relevance of its themes (such as feminism, racism, refugees) to the struggle to get it produced, to what a pain Jerome Robbins could be, to the unexpected universal popularity of this “most Jewish” of shows (it’s been a hit all over Asia). Upbeat, joyous, just what’s needed now, this is an absolute “must see.”
Opening Night Film – San Francisco JFF 2019
ZOOM FILM TALK Wednesday, July 8, 8pmRochester Native Bruce Sabath (Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish) in conversation with JCC CenterStage Artistic Director Ralph Meranto.
A link to join this Zoom webinar will be sent with the film link.
SHARED LEGACIES: THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN JEWISH CIVIL RIGHTS ALLIANCE Sunday, July 12, 4pm – Tuesday, July 14, 4pm
Director: Dr. Shari Rogers | USA | 2020 | 95 min | English | Documentary
Protecting life and doing justice are central to Judaism. That’s why, early in the 20th century, Jewish Americans and African-Americans forged a bond to fight for civil rights for all. Through interviews, archival footage, and dramatic narration, this film digs deeply into that relationship, from its birth with the founding of NAACP in 1909, through the turbulent 1960s, to the challenges facing it today. Obviously timely, this powerful, important documentary must be seen.
ZOOM FILM TALK Monday, July 13, 8pm
Director Shari Rogers and Producer Lisa Weitzman, moderated by Jack Garner
A link to join this Zoom webinar will be sent with the film link.
DOUZE POINTS Monday, July 13, 12:01am – Wednesday, July 15, 11:59pm
Director: Daniel Syrkin | Israel, France | 2019 | 90 min | Hebrew, French, English (w/subtitles) | Narrative
We all need a comedy, and this one’s hilarious. Ingredients: a proud, gay Muslim singer fulfilling his dream of representing France in Europe’s biggest song contest being held this year in Tel Aviv; a bunch of ISIS nogoodniks hellbent on blowing up the show; and crack Mossad agents desperately trying to foil the plot. The result: suspense, laughter, and a chance to sing-along!
Tickets for each show are $12 per household. But you can also pay $15, which includes $3 donation to Brighton Food Cupboard, or $25, which includes $3 donation to Brighton Food Cupboard and $10 donation to the Rochester Jewish Film Festival.
Full Disclosure Note: Sid Rosenzweig has been on the RJFF committee since its very first year and often introduces films and leads those post-film discussions.ALSO BY SID