From October 20th through November 2nd, the FISA Foundation and JFilm co-present the fourth annual ReelAbilities Film Festival, an event showcasing films about the lives, stories, and artistic expression of people with different disabilities. The lineup includes previews and Pittsburgh premieres, as well as a shorts program featuring several works from around the world. There will also be post-screening talks, presentations, and receptions. See schedule and details below:
Follow a diverse community of artists from Zeno Mountain Farm who come together year after year to make a Hollywood movie, find friendship and grow as actors and individuals, regardless of their ability. This refreshingly genuine and endearing film-within-a-film reveals a dynamic, inclusive world that transcends stigmas and challenges stereotypes, while raising important questions about the lack of artistic opportunities for people with disabilities.
Followed by a conversation with AJ Murray, an actor living with cerebral palsy, and Will Halby, co-founder and director of Zeno Mountain Farm.
Margarita with a Straw
An aspiring young writer with cerebral palsy leaves her home in India to attend New York University. After a chance encounter with a fiery female activist, she begins to explore this uncharted world and its liberal sexualities. Based on the true story of a young Punjabi woman, Margarita with a Straw is a unique coming-of-age story about love, identity, and sexuality.
This screening is presented in collaboration with Reel Q.
A misdiagnosis as a child gave Gabe Weil a new, longer life expectancy and the unexpected gift of time. Empowered to now think about a future that he never thought he would have, Gabe embraces his passions, deepens his friendships, and finds joy in each day as he continues to manage an ongoing disability. This honest and insightful documentary reminds us all to value the time we are given no matter what our challenges.
Followed by a conversation with the film’s director Luke Terrell.
Since the Fair Labor Standards Act passed in 1938, American workers have been free from labor exploitation, with one exception: people with disabilities. In 2016, nearly 250,000 people with disabilities continue to earn less than the minimum wage. Through personal stories and poignant interviews, this eye-opening documentary exposes this practice while presenting new employment alternatives with competitive wages and community inclusion for workers of all abilities.
Followed by a panel discussion with local stakeholders moderated by Halle Stockton, managing editor of Public Source.
ReelAbilities Shorts Program
Seven short films totaling 70 minutes highlight diverse themes across the ability spectrum. Includes Autism in Love, I Don’t Care, Macropolis, Midfield, Perfect, Strings and Welcome to the Last Bookstore.
Followed by a conversation with emerging filmmakers from Pittsburgh’s Joey Travolta Film Camp.
Thank You For Your Service
The U.S. military faces an unprecedented mental health crisis as veterans returning to civilian life find themselves unequipped to manage the post-traumatic stress and depression that is leading to veteran suicides at an alarming rate. With candid interviews including those from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and General David Petraeus, the film reveals how current policies of the U.S. military are falling short of the critical mental health needs of our veterans.
Followed by a conversation with the film’s director, Tom Donahue, film subjects Dr. Mark Russell and Phil Straub, and Dr. Rory Cooper, founding director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, a VA Rehabilitation R&D Center of Excellence.
All screenings will be followed by receptions including vegan, kosher and gluten-free options. There will also be an art exhibit featuring works from Reinventing the Wheel, a photography project that paired twenty-one people with spinal cord injury with 21 photographers from cities nationwide to create photo essays through a realistic, positive and creative lens.
All films and programs will take place at Rodef Shalom. General admission is $12 in advance, $15 at the door, $8 for students under age 26 with valid ID. There are also special group rates and discounts. Tickets are available online or at the door if not sold out.
Film Kitchen – Melwood Screening Room
The latest Film Kitchen at Melwood Screening Room will feature a short documentary about paranormal investigators in Erie County and several works featuring local drag artist and comedian Tristan Reid, as well as selections from local filmmakers Steve Parys, Tressa Glover and Caroline Collins. The event begins with a reception at 7 p.m. followed by the films at 8 p.m. Admission is $5.
Refugee Kids: One Small School Takes On the World – Rodef Shalom Congregation
Repair The World: Pittsburgh and Rodef Shalom Congregation will present Refugee Kids: One Small School Takes On the World. The short documentary follows students at a New York City summer program for children seeking asylum from the world’s most volatile conflicts. The film presents the students’ stories of resettling in America, chronicling their triumphs and setbacks as their lives unfold over the course of one formative summer. Refugee Kids will screen 6 p.m. at Rodef Shalom. Snacks and drinks will be available. The event is free. Guests can register at Eventbrite.
Twister – AMC Loews Waterfront
AMC Loews Waterfront will present a Classic Movie Night screening of Twister. Starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton, the 1996 disaster film follows a ragtag team of scientists and storm chasers as they risk their lives pursuing tornadoes. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $5, $10.50 for VIP seating.
Fauna Flicks – Row House Cinema
Row House Cinema follows up its May Flowers week with Fauna Flicks, a program featuring all creatures great and small. The selections include the 1950 ode to imaginary bunny friends Harvey, the 1981 big cat disaster Roar, the 1986 beloved family classic An American Tail, and the spectacular 2014 Hungarian dog drama White God. Showtimes will continue through May 19th.
The Man Who Knew Infinity – Regent Square Theater
Regent Square Theater will screen the new biopic The Man Who Knew Infinity. Growing up poor in Madras, India, Srinivasa Ramanujan Iyengar (Dev Patel) earns admittance to Cambridge University during WWI, where he becomes a pioneer in mathematical theories with the guidance of his professor, G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons). Showtimes will continue through May 19th.
Hollywood Theater’s 90th Birthday Party – Hollywood Theater
The historic Hollywood Theater will celebrate 90 years with a special guest screening and and party. Ghost Whisperer actor and Pittsburgh native David Conrad will present a new digital restoration of the essential 1949 film noir classic The Third Man. Also included in the festivities is a live performance by Tom Roberts and Friends, food by Eliza’s Oven, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and a raffle. Doors open at 7 p.m. followed by an introduction by Conrad and the film at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $20 at Showclix, $25 at the door. Member tickets are $15.
We The People: Exploring The Militia Movement – Open House PGH
Open House PGH will present the short VICE/HBO news documentary We The People: Exploring The Militia Movement as part of their Keepin’ It Reel series. The film explores the increase in American militant group activity. The event begins at 6 p.m. A discussion will follow.
The 2016 JFilm Festival will present the Pittsburgh premieres of 21 films representing Jewish culture around the world. The festivities begin on April 7th with an opening night event dedicated to the documentary Norman Lear: Just Another Version Of You. The festival will close on April 17th with a screening of Natalie Portman‘s directorial debut A Tale of Love and Darkness. The festival will also include film-related talks, food presentations, and special guest appearances. See the JFilm schedule and details below:
Norman Lear: Just Another Version Of You
From Archie Bunker to George Jefferson, Norman Lear created television’s most iconic characters of the 1970s; yet none are more memorable than Lear himself. Now in his 90s, Lear candidly reflects on his life growing up as a poor Jewish kid, his career creating provocative sitcom hits, and his later years as an activist for social equality –using laughter every step of the way. Featuring interviews with George Clooney, Amy Poehler, Rob Reiner, and others, this film tells the entertaining, nostalgic, and insightful story of one of America’s most influential figures.
The latest film from director Atom Egoyan tells the story of Zev Guttman (Academy Award winner Christopher Plummer), a 90-year-old struggling with memory loss, who receives a mysterious package from his close friend Max (Academy Award winner Martin Landau), containing a stack of money and a letter detailing a shocking plan. Both Zev and Max were prisoners in Auschwitz, and the same sadistic guard was responsible for the death of both their families—a guard who, after the war, escaped Germany and has since been living in the U.S. under an assumed identity. Max is wheelchair-bound but in full command of his mental faculties; with his guidance, Zev will embark on a cross-continental road-trip to finally bring justice to the man who destroyed both their lives. Remember will screen at 5:30 p.m. in the Manor Theatre.
Frank vs. God
God has been tough on David Frank (Henry Ian Cusick). Devastated by the recent loss of his wife and a tornado that ruins his house and takes his beloved dog, Frank is fed up with these “acts of God,” and—as any good lawyer would do—serves God his papers. This delightful film brings levity to the heaviest questions of faith and spirituality as Frank calls on representatives of the world’s religions to help defend God’s actions. Frank vs. God will screen at 4:45 p.m. at the Manor Theatre.
A down-on-his-luck detective reluctantly accepts a case that revolves around the mysterious murder of an 80-year-old man found with multiple stab wounds in a river. Moving between past and present, Fire Birds envelopes us in the man’s world of loneliness, desire and rejection. Starring the legendary Gila Almagor with a turn by Miriam Zohar as an aging cabaret singer who still has her pipes, Fire Birds mixes intrigue with humor, romance and melancholy. Fire Birds will screen at 7 p.m. at the Manor Theatre.
How did the Louvre survive the Nazi occupation of Paris during World War II while the rest of Europe was destroyed? In this docudrama, famed Russian director and auteur Alexander Sokurov explores the noted museum’s precarious journey through that time by examining the relationship between the Louvre’s head, Jacques Jaujard, and German officer Count Franziskus Wolff Metternich, tasked with overseeing one of the world’s best-known collections of art treasures for the Nazi conquerors. Sokurov cuts between present and past in this “art” film, which is a love story to not only the Louvre itself, but to art and its impact on civilization. In French, German and Russian with subtitles. Francofonia will screen at 9:20 p.m. at the Manor Theatre.
The screening is supported in part by the Russian Film Symposium and The Center for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.
Peter the 3rd
Growing old is not easy, but when a group of lifelong friends meet each day in a coffee shop to solve the world’s problems and laugh at each other’s foibles, they find the support they need to get by. In pursuit of a better pension, one of the friends, Peter, decides to run for the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) with the help of the feisty—and much younger—waitress, Alona. Gathering signatures for his newly formed Widows and Widowers Party, Peter and Alona develop an unlikely friendship that reveals that loneliness and unrealized dreams can hinder us all—at any age. In Hebrew with subtitles. Peter the 3rd will screen at 2 p.m. in the Manor Theatre.
The Three Hikers
An innocent hike through Northern Iraqi territory turns into a 2+ year international incident when three American civilians mistakenly cross into Iran. This documentary chronicles the fate of those three—Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal, son of an Israeli citizen—as they are first captured and then imprisoned for what seems like an indeterminate amount of time. Falsely charged with spying, the three hikers endure inhumane conditions, trumped up charges and the American government’s apparent disinterest in their circumstances. Working almost exclusively from interviews with the three captives, director Natalie Avital tells the story of their imprisonment, the impact on their families back home and the ramifications of the Iranian action on American-Iranian relations. The Three Hikers will screen at 3:45 p.m. in the Manor Theatre.
A conversation with hiker Joshua Fattal will follow. The film is shown in collaboration with the World Affairs Council.
A Grain of Truth
Polish Academy Award-winning actor Robert Więckiewicz plays Teodor Szacki, a maverick prosecutor who digs deep into Poland’s anti-Semitic past in this stylish detective thriller. Set in southeast Poland, the newly arrived Szacki is met with suspicion by the close-knit community when he is enlisted to solve a string of murders gripping the small town. As the killer remains on the run, tempers flare and rumors run rampant among some of the locals who believe that these are ritual killings by Jews. In Polish with subtitles. A Grain of Truth will screen at 7 p.m. in the Manor Theatre.
Guests are welcome to join Film Schmooze after the screening. The film is shown in collaboration with Three Rivers Film Festival.
Thrown together at Auschwitz, three friends reconnect 15 years after their release at a sunny resort in the north of France. Overcome with both good and bad memories, the women open up about their lives as their noble attempt at forging ahead ebbs and flows like the nearby seaside. Based on his own mother’s story, director Jean-Jacques Zilbermann lovingly portrays the women, as well as the men in their lives, as flawed but real people. In French with subtitles. To Life will screen at 5 p.m. in the Manor Theatre.
Guests are welcome to join Film Schmooze after the screening.
Baba Joon is a story about fathers and sons set in a Persian-immigrant farming community in the Negev during the early 1980s. Yitzhak (Navid Negahban) runs the turkey farm that his father built after emigrating from Iran to Israel. Now it is time to teach his son, Moti, the family business, but the 13-year-old is not interested and would rather build and fix things. The struggle escalates when Yitzhak’s absent brother visits from America, giving Moti the courage to stand up for himself. In Farsi and Hebrew with subtitles. Baba Joon will screen at 7 p.m. in Carmike 10 – South Hills Village.
This screening is supported in part by the South Hills Community Engagement
Since the 1990s, the Israel Football League has been adding teams and players while battling more popular sports like soccer and basketball for attention. With a recent infusion of funds from the Kraft Family (owners of the New England Patriots), the League has grown steadily. Touchdown Israel appeals to everyone who loves Israel (if not football) and shows how the gridiron sport is bringing diverse communities together in the Holy Land. In English and Hebrew with subtitles. Touchdown Israel will screen at 7:15 p.m. in the Manor Theatre.
A conversation with former Pittsburgh Steeler Chris Hoke.will follow. The screening is supported in part by the Zionist Organization of America-Pittsburgh District.
Raise the Roof
With only a few black and white photographs to guide them, an international team of artists embark on the ambitious endeavor to reconstruct one of the world’s greatest wooden synagogues, built in Gwozdziec, Poland during the 18th century. Its distinct architecture inspired over 200 synagogues that dotted the Polish countryside for more than two centuries, until Nazis burned them to the ground during World War II. Teaching artists Rick and Laura Brown discover the history of these architectural marvels and set out to rebuild the landmark Gwozdziec synagogue using only hand tools, artisanal techniques, and the skills and labor of over 300 volunteers. After ten years this improbable dream is realized, and Poland is once again home to this great synagogue of the past. In English and Polish with subtitles. Raise the Roof will screen at 5:30 p.m. in the Manor Theatre.
Guests are welcome to join Film Schmooze after the screening. The screening is shown in In collaboration with the Polish Cultural Council of Pittsburgh.
The Kind Words
In the wake of their mother’s death, three Israeli siblings have reason to doubt the identity of their father, leading them to embark on a journey in search of a mysterious Muslim man from their mother’s past. The discovery of their mother’s deep secrets affects each one in different ways, but it is the sister, Donora, who seems to bear the most pain as she yearns to be a mother herself with husband Ricky (played by Tsahi Halevi of the 2015 film Bethlehem). The latest box-office hit from Israeli writer director Shemi Zarhin uses wry humor and relatable characters to reflect on parenthood, love and identity in our modern world. In French and Hebrew with subtitles. The Kind Words will screen at 7:30 p.m. in the Manor Theatre.
The Midnight Orchestra
Like many Jews who fled Morocco during the rising racial tension spurred by the Yom Kippur War, Michael Abitbol left Casablanca as a child and never looked back. Estranged from his father, a once famous Jewish musician, Michael reluctantly returns to his boyhood home years later. With the help of a comical Muslim cab driver and the eccentric members of his father’s former orchestra, the legacy of his father is revealed to him along with a story of his past that was long ago buried. In Arabic, English & French with subtitles. The Midnight Orchestra will screen at 5 p.m. in the Manor Theatre.
Frank vs God will screen at 7 p.m. in Carmike 10 – South Hills Village. The screening is supported in part by the South Hills Community Engagement Initiative.
In Search of Israeli Cuisine
Join the Israeli-born, Pittsburgh-raised chef Michael Solomonov as he travels throughout Israel feeding his curiosity and appetite for the diverse foods of his native country. Solomonov’s journey reaffirms that Israeli cuisine is a beautiful and delicious reflection of the country’s unique diversity. Exhilarated by the eclectic melding of traditions and tastes, he’s sure to return to his trendy Philadelphia restaurant Zahav inspired by what he’s learned. In Search of Israeli Cuisine will screen at 7:30 p.m. in the Manor Theatre.
A conversation with Chef Michael Solomonov will follow.
Fire Birds will screen at 4:30 p.m. at the Manor Theatre.
Legendary Sephardic composer and musician Flory Jagoda delights contemporary audiences with ancestral songs and lyrics that stretch back centuries. Born in Sarajevo to a musical family, Flory became the family’s only Holocaust survivor. She now shares with the world the songs that were lovingly passed on to her before World War II,bringing to life a part of Sephardic Jewish culture that is seldom still heard. This film weaves Flory’s compelling personal story, warmly told by Flory and her family, with selections from her highly acclaimed concert at the Library of Congress in 2014. In Croatian, English and Ladino with subtitles. Flory’s Flame will screen at 7 p.m. in the Rodef Shalom Congregation.
A post-screening performance by Jagoda and her band will follow. Special ticket prices apply.
Frank vs. God will screen at 7 p.m. in the Seton Hill University Performing Arts Center. The screening is supported in part by Seton Hill University’s National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education.
The Israel/Iran nuclear conflict takes center stage in this hilarious farce by the director of Israel’s cult hit, Operation Grandma. On a small army base in the Israeli desert, two teens accidentally come across secret codes that could blow up the world, specifically Iran, where their Facebook friend lives. The film boasts a wild cast of characters including an eye-patched commander, a widowed activist who sells falafel from a food truck and an allergic German nuclear inspector (Alexander Fehling) who breaks out in hives around enriched uranium, as well as a catchy soundtrack including indie rock, Iranian rap and folk tunes. With verbal and visual humor that holds nothing sacred, be prepared to hold your belly. In English, Farsi and Hebrew with subtitles. Atomic Falafel will screen at 7:30 p.m. in the Manor Theatre.
The screening is supported in part by the Film Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh.
Frank vs. God will screen at 5:30 p.m. at the Manor Theatre.
Peter the 3rd will screen at 5 p.m. in the Manor Theatre.
Baba Joon will screen at 7 p.m. in the Manor Theatre.
Presenting Princess Shaw
An internet sensation who goes by the name Kutiman is an experimental composer living in Israel who creates video mash ups from clips he finds on YouTube. He discovers Samantha Montgomery, a soulful singer in New Orleans, who cares for the elderly by day and becomes her alter ego—Princess Shaw—by night, performing at open mics and uploading her songs to the internet in hopes of being discovered. A star is born in this crowd-pleasing documentary, which also examines loneliness, anonymity and connectivity in the Internet age, where showbiz dreams remain but a mouse-click away for the lucky and talented few. In English and Hebrew with subtitles. Presenting Princess Shaw will screen at 9 p.m. in the Manor Theatre.
The screening is presented in collaboration with Repair the World and the Young Adult Division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.
Plastic Man: The Artful Life of Jerry Ross Barrish
Years before DIY and working with recyclables became the rage, Jerry Barrish started collecting discarded plastic and repurposing it into sculptures. Now retired from 50+ years as a bail bondsman, the gruff sculptor focuses entirely on his whimsical, evocative art. Plastic Man: The Artful Life of Jerry Ross Barrish will screen at 12:30 p.m. in the Manor Theatre.
Barrish and producer Janis Plotkin will join local artists Clayton Merrell and Carin Mincemoyer for a conversation after the screening. In addition, artists from I Made It! Market will sell goods made with reused and recycled materials in the lobby.
Flory’s Flame will screen at 3 p.m. in the Manor Theatre.
Cartoonists: Foot Soldiers of Democracy
Last year’s attack on cartoonists at France’s satirical journal, Charlie Hebdo, proved that cartoons can provoke powerful responses. Featuring 12 talented cartoonists from the far reaches of the globe, including a Belgian-Israeli cartoonist and one from Palestine, this compelling documentary draws on the power of political cartooning—and the unusual artists who inhabit this world. The film includes footage from cartoonists who practice under extreme censorship, risking their lives to defend democracy and practice their craft, and proving that cartooning is a resilient and universally provocative form of art. In Arabic, Danish, English and French with subtitles. Cartoonists: Foot Soldiers of Democracy will screen at 4:30 p.m. in the Manor Theatre.
A conversation with Rob Rogers, editorial cartoonist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, will follow. The screening is presented in collaboration with the ToonSeum.
A Tale of Love and Darkness
Academy Award-winning actor Natalie Portman makes her writing and directing debut in this stunning adaptation of the highly acclaimed memoir by Israeli author Amos Oz. Told through the eyes of the young Amos, the story revolves around his troubled yet adoring mother who was raised in privilege in her native Poland, but struggles to adjust to her life as a poor newcomer in the fledgling nation of Israel. In Hebrew with subtitles. A Tale of Love and Darkness will screen at 7:15 p.m. in the Manor Theatre.
Tickets are available for purchase at the JFilm Festival website. Advance tickets for the opening night film and reception cost $65, $18 for full-time students (26 and under) if purchased by or before 12 p.m. on April 1st. Regular tickets cost $80 online or at the door.
Tickets for all other screenings cost $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Youth (18 and under) tickets cost $5 in advance, $6 at the door. Advance tickets for groups of 12 or more cost $8 each. $15 limited reserved seats are also available for purchase. Late seating may be reserved for those observing Shabbat by calling (412) 992-5203.
Tickets for the Flory’s Flame concert event cost $15 in advance, $17 at the door.
When filmmaker Kathy Leichter moved back into her childhood home after her mother’s suicide, she discovered a hidden box of audiotapes. Sixteen years passed before she had the courage to delve into this trove, unearthing details that her mother had recorded about every aspect of her life from the challenges of her marriage to a State Senator, to her son’s estrangement, to her struggles with bi-polar disorder. Here One Day is a visually arresting, emotionally candid film about a woman coping with mental illness, her relationships with her family, and the ripple effects of her suicide on those she loved.
Here One Day will screen at 7 p.m. at the Rodef Shalom Synagogue. A discussion and reception with Leichter regarding mental health and suicide, reducing stigma, and connecting with local resources for support will also take place. Tickets cost $5 to $10 and are available for purchase at the JFilm website.
The JFilm Festival returns with 28 screenings of 20 films from eight different countries, each one enjoying its Pittsburgh premiere. The line-up includes eye-opening dramas, documentaries, comedies, and other works that speak to the Jewish experience all over the world. See below for schedule and details:
The Last Mentsch
Marcus Schwartz (Mario Adorf) is an old man who has lived with a cautiously buried secret for most of his life – for Marcus Schwartz was born as Menah’hem Teitelbaum and has concealed his Jewish heritage ever since he survived the horrors of Auschwitz. Now, as he has decided that he wants to be buried on a Jewish cemetery, he has to verify what he has carefully hidden for most of his life and that proves to be quite a difficult task. On the journey to his roots in Satu Mare, a little village on the Hungarian-Romanian border, he is accompanied by Gül (Katharina Derr), a young German Girl of Turkish heritage, who, just like Marcus, tries to come to terms with her past.
Once in a Lifetime
At the Lycée Léon Blum in Créteil, on the outskirts of Paris, a teacher decides to make her weakest 10th grade class take a national history exam. The experience transforms the students. Based on a true story. Once in a Lifetime will screen at the Manor Theatre.
The Art Dealer
The new drama from renowned French director François Margolin (The Flight of the Red Balloon) follows a Jewish woman (Anna Sigalevitch) who embarks on a journey to recover family paintings that were stolen by Nazis. During her investigation, she discovers some family secrets are best kept hidden. The Art Dealer will screen at the Manor Theatre.
10% My Child
Seven-year-old Franny adjusts to life with her mother’s new boyfriend, Nico, a 26-year-old aspiring filmmaker unable to finish his graduation project. 10% My Child will screen at the Manor Theatre.
French director Alexandre Arcady’s cinematic adaptation of the real-life kidnapping of Ilan Halimi offers a searing insight into his vicious ordeal. For 24 days, the police, insistent upon handling the case as a normal for-ransom kidnapping, fail to recognize the anti-Semitic hatred of his abductors. Many opportunities to save Ilan are missed or squandered as his family receive nearly 700 phone calls, insults, threats, photographs and sound recordings of their tortured son. 24 Days will screen at the Manor Theatre.
The Muses of Bashevis Singer
The famous Yiddish writer and Nobel Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote with a ‘harem’ of dozens of translators behind him. Beyond simple translation, these women were a vital source of his creativity. The inspiration he drew from them came in many forms, often mixing romance with professional aspirations. Today nine remain to tell his story. Intimate, poignant interviews and exclusive archival footage combine to portray the unknown story of an author who charmed and enchanted his audiences, just like he charmed and enchanted his translators. The Muses of Bashevis Singer will screen at the Manor Theatre.
Yehezkel, a 75-year-old Jerusalem retirement home resident, decides to fulfill his terminally ill best friend Max’s wish to die in peace. Despite the objections of his wife Levana, Yehezkel and Max’s wife Yana enlist the help of a veterinarian and retired police officer to help them with their mission. When the group realizes that none of them is willing to commit the deed, Yehezkel builds a machine for self- euthanasia. But after Max is gone, rumors about the machine begin to spread, and the group receives more pleas for help. Meanwhile, Yehezkel refuses to face the reality of his wife’s deteriorating dementia. As Yehezkel navigates between new requests for the machine, and Levana’s growing dependency, boundaries begin to blur, and the moral dilemmas the group face become impossible to bear. Farewell Party will screen at the Manor Theatre.
Above and Beyond
In 1948, just three years after the liberation of Nazi death camps, a group of Jewish American pilots answered a call for help. In secret and at great personal risk, they smuggled planes out of the U.S., trained behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia and flew for Israel in its War of Independence. This ragtag band of brothers not only turned the tide of the war; they also embarked on personal journeys of discovery and renewed Jewish pride. The first feature-length documentary about the foreign airmen brings together new interviews as well as stunning aerial footage to present a fascinating, little-known tale filled with heart, heroism and high-flying chutzpah. Above and Beyond will screen at Rodef Shalom.
An old Jewish baker’s failing business gets an unexpected boost when his young Muslim apprentice, also a part-time cannabis dealer, accidentally drops a load of dope in the dough, and the customers suddenly can’t get enough of his bread. Stars Jonathan Pryce, Ian Hart, Jerome Holder, and Pauline Collins. Dough will screen at the Manor Theatre.
The Best of Men
Based on a true story, The Best of Men tells Dr. Ludwig Guttmann, a Jewish refugee whose pioneering work with paralyzed soldiers led to the birth of the Paralympic Games. Stars Eddie Marsan and Rob Brydon. The Best of Men will screen at Rodef Shalom.
Once in a Lifetime
Once in a Lifetime will screen at Carmike 10 – South Hills Village.
Above and Beyond
Above and Beyond will screen at the Manor Theatre.
Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem
Theodore Bikel, a prolific performer whose career spans more than 150 screen roles (including an Oscar-nominated turn in The Defiant Ones) and countless stage and musical productions, is also the foremost interpreter of Jewish literary figure Sholom Aleichem‘s work. Aleichem’s Tevye the Milkman, Motl the Cantor’s Son, and Menachem Mendl–“shtetl Jews” for whom humor and pathos were two sides of the same Yiddish coin–remain invaluable windows into pre-war Eastern European Jewish life, real and imagined. Now 90, Bikel has played Tevye the Milkman on stage more than 2,000 times, and he has animated Aleichem’s work through his creation of two celebrated musical plays about the great Russian author. The feature documentary combines Bikel’s charismatic storytelling and masterful performances with a broader exploration of Aleichem’s remarkable life and work. Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem will screen at the Manor Theatre.
The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films
A documentary film about of two Israeli-born cousins, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, who in pursuit of the American Dream turned the Hollywood power structure upside down, producing over 300 films and becoming the most powerful independent film company in the world. Up close and personal, the film examines the complex relationship between two contradictory personalities whose combined force fueled their successes and eventual split. The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films will screen at Waterworks Cinemas.
Serial (Bad) Weddings
Claude and Marie Verneuil, from the provincial, Catholic upper middle class, are rather conservative parents. But they’ve always forced themselves to be open-minded. However, their tolerance has been sorely tested when their first daughter married a Muslim, the second a Jew, and the third a Chinese man. Their hopes to at last see one of their daughters married in church hence focus on their youngest, who has, halleluiah, just met a good Catholic. Serial (Bad) Weddings will screen at the Manor Theatre.
The Art Dealer
The Art Dealer will screen in the Reeves Auditorium at Seton Hill University.
One week after the 1967 Six-Day War, a group of young kibbutzinks, led by renowned author Amos Oz and Editor Avraham Shapira, recorded intimate conversations with soldiers returning from the battlefield. The Israeli army censored the recordings, allowing only a fragment of the conversations to be published. Censored Voices reveals these original recordings for the first time. Censored Voices will screen at the Manor Theatre.
Felix and Meira
Each lost in their everyday lives, Meira (Hadas Yaron), a Hasidic Jewish wife and mother and Félix (Martin Dubreuil), a Secular loner mourning the recent death of his estranged father, unexpectedly meet in a local bakery in Montreal’s Mile End district. What starts as an innocent friendship becomes more serious as the two wayward strangers find comfort in one another. As Félix opens Meira’s eyes to the world outside of her tight-knit Orthodox community, her desire for change becomes harder for her to ignore, ultimately forcing her to choose: remain in the life that she knows or give it all up to be with Félix. Felix and Meira will screen at the Manor Theatre.
Beneath the Helmet: From High School to the Home Front
Director Wayne Kopping‘s coming-of-age story which follows the journey of five Israeli high school graduates who are drafted into the army to defend their country. At the age of 18, away from their homes, families and friends, these young individuals undergo a demanding, inspiring journey, revealing the core of who they are and who they want to be. Beneath the Helmet: From High School to the Home Front will screen at the Manor Theatre and the JCC Katz Theatre.
After living in Berlin for eight years, university student Noa returns to her native Israel for a short holiday. When her grandmother suddenly takes ill, Noa decides to stay with her family and search for her place in life, which becomes more complicated when her German boyfriend Jörg shows up. Anywhere Else will screen at the Manor Theatre.
24 Days will screen at the Manor Theatre.
Dough will screen at the Manor Theatre.
Serial (Bad) Weddings
Serial (Bad) Weddings will screen at the Manor Theatre.
A Borrowed Identity
Eyad, who grew up in an Arab town in Israel, is given the chance to go to a prestigious Jewish boarding school in Jerusalem. The first and only Arab to be accepted there, he desperately tries to fit in with his Jewish schoolmates and Israeli society. Soon, Eyad develops a friendship with Jonathan, a boy suffering from muscular dystrophy, and gradually becomes part of his family. Being an outsider, Eyad wants to belong, even if he doesn’t exactly know to whom or to what. After falling in love with Naomi, a Jewish girl, he has to leave school when their relationship is uncovered and he discovers that he will have to sacrifice his identity in order to be accepted. Faced with a choice, Eyad will have to make a decision that will change his life forever. A Borrowed Identity will screen at the Manor Theatre.
Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem
Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem will screen at the Manor Theatre.
During the summer of 1943, the Jews of Greater Bulgaria must adhere to the laws of Germany. Moni, a Jewish youngster from Sofia and Giogio the son of the commissar for Jewish affairs’ driver, meet Shelly, a Jewish girl from Kavala. The two face the values and limits of friendship, as they both fall in love with her, while outside rages their conflicted world. Bulgarian Rhapsody will screen at the Manor Theatre.
Is That You?
After being fired from his job, Ronnie, a 60-year-old Israeli film projectionist, travels to the U.S. in search of Rachel, the love of his youth. Helping Ronnie in his search are his brother and Myla, a documentary film student making a movie about regrets.
Tickets for The Last Mentsch opening reception are $80. Individual screenings are $10 general admission, $5 for students 18 and under with valid ID. Tickets are available for purchase at the JFilm website.
In 1935, Regina Jonas made history when she became the world’s first female rabbi. On Nov. 16th, JFilm and the University of Pittsburgh Jewish Studies Program will celebrate her amazing life with a documentary screening.
Directed by Diana Groo, Regina tells the story of Regina Jonas (1902-1944), whose greatest dream was to become a rabbi. But a woman could not be a rabbi according to the laws of Jewish religion. Regina chose a calling she must struggle to attain within her own religious community and moreover in a historical period where one was lucky not to be branded as a Jew. She finds a liberal rabbi who will ordain her and hopes that henceforth she will have a place in the synagogues. But she doesn’t. It is perhaps fate’s irony that she officially receives her synagogue commissions when most of her rabbi colleagues are emigrating or being arrested. At age 37, she met the love of her life, Rabbi Josef Norden. Both of them were deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp. Only their love letters survived the Holocaust.
Since 2007, the ReelAbilities Film Festival has set out to spotlight the lives, stories, and artistic expressions of people with disabilities. Beginning Oct. 22nd, JFilm will bring the New York-based event to Pittsburgh, and with it four documentary and narrative stories about the challenges people face everyday. See schedule and film descriptions below:
From the early days of silent films to present day, from Chaplin to X-Men,disability portrayals are ever changing. This dynamic documentary takes a detailed look at the evolution of “disability” in entertainment by going behind the scenes to interview filmmakers, studio executives, film historians, and celebrities, and by utilizing vivid clips from Hollywood’s most beloved motion pictures and television programs to focus attention on the powerful impact that the media can have on society. CinemAbility screens at 7 p.m. at Rodef Shalom Congregation.
Touch of the Light
Blind pianist Huang Yu-Siang plays himself in this Taiwanese Oscar-contender about a blind piano prodigy from rural Taiwan and his relationship with Xiao Jie (Sandrine Pinna), a young woman who dreams of becoming a dancer despite enormous challenges. In Taiwanese with English subtitles. Touch of the Light screens at 1 p.m. at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) in Bakery Square.
Come As You Are
Three guys in their twenties love wine and women but they are still virgins. Under the guise of a wine tour they embark on a journey to Spain hoping to have their first sexual experience. Josef is blind, Philip is paralyzed from the neck down, and Lars is in a wheelchair with a brain tumor, but they’re not going to let anything stand in their way. Come As You Are screens at 7:30 p.m. at Rodef Shalom Congregation.
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
When Ricky, a 13-year-old Mexican-American boy with autism, runs away from his immigrant family on the fringes of New York City, he embarks on an odyssey that forces his splintered family to reconcile their differences. Stand Clear of the Closing Doors screens at 7 p.m. at Rodef Shalom Congregation.
Tickets for CinemAbility are $20, $10 for students. All other films are $10, $5 for students. Tickets are available for purchase on the JFilm website.
From March 27th through April 6th, the JFilm Festival will present 17 films from eight countries, including Argentina, Belgium, France, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Poland, and the US. The event will also feature a number of activities, such as a food tasting, a dance performance, and lectures. See a film schedule and details below:
A group of friends in a Tel Aviv suburb get together to watch Universong, a Eurovision-like television song contest. They’d all like to forget the stress of their daily lives. Yael is a former beauty queen who is unfulfilled by her job as a corporate lawyer; Dana is a stressed-out aide to a cabinet minister and timidly tries to please her traditional father; Anat , has a successful bakery but an unsuccessful marriage; Keren is a shy blogger; Efrat is a frustrated singer- songwriter whose career has stalled; and Ofer is a nursery-school teacher who is upset that his boyfriend, a spokes-model for his family’s famous brand of hummus, is still in the closet and won’t publicly acknowledge their romance. When the night of the Universong final rolls around, they gather to watch and are depressed by the lifelessness of the Israeli entry, a parody of many recent offerings, a flashy, grating song about “amour.” After they realize that Anat is distraught over the crisis in her marriage, they compose a song to cheer her up. As a lark, Ofer enters their cellphone video of it in next year’s contest, and it becomes Israel’s entry. In Hebrew with English subtitles. Cupcakes will screen at the Manor Theatre, with a reception at the Jewish Community Center‘s Katz Theater.
Bethlehem tells the story of the unlikely bond between Razi, an Israeli secret service officer, and his Palestinian informant Sanfur. Sanfur is the younger brother of a senior Palestinian militant. Razi recruited him when he was just 15, and developed a very close, almost fatherly relationship to him. Now 17, Sanfur tries to navigate between Razi’s demands and his loyalty to his brother, living a double life and lying to both. When the Israeli secret service discovers how deeply involved Sanfur is in his brother’s activities, Razi is faced with an impossible dilemma. Co-written by Yuval Adler, who also directed, and Ali Waked, an Arab journalist who spent years in the West Bank, and based on years of research, the film gives an unparalleled, authentic portrait of the complex reality behind the news. Hebrew and Arabic with subtitles. Bethlehem will screen at the Manor Theatre.
March 29th & April 1st
Hunting Elephants centers on a 12-year-old Israeli boy named Jonathan, who is dealt a cruel double-blow by fate. First his father is killed in a freak accident while working at the local bank. Then, not only does the bank deny fault, they also declare they’ll repossess the boy’s home. Pushed to the brink, the boy must find money fast, and so decides to rob the bank that’s offended him. But he needs a team. Unfortunately for Jonathan, the only crew he has access to is three senior citizens. Cast includes Patrick Stewart. Hebrew and English with subtitles. Hunting Elephants will screen at 7 p.m. on March 29th and at 4:45 p.m. on April 1st at the Manor Theatre.
March 29th & April 2nd
The German Doctor
Based on Lucía Puenzo’s fifth novel, the story follows Josef Mengele, the “Angel of Death,” a German SS officer and a physician at the Auschwitz concentration camp, in the years he spent “hiding” in South America following his escape from Germany. Mengele was considered to be one of WWII’s most heinous Nazi war criminals. It is widely speculated that Mengele continued his human experimentation after he fled from Germany, including during his years in South America. Puenzo’s thriller follows an Argentinian family who befriend and entrust their young daughter to his care, not knowing that they are harboring one of the most dangerous criminals in the world. At the same time, Israeli agents are desperately looking to bring The German Doctor to justice. Spanish, German and Hebrew with subtitles. The German Doctor will screen at 9 p.m.on March 29th and at 5:15 p.m. on April 2nd at the Manor Theatre.
The Sturgeon Queens
100-year-old Hattie Russ Gold and her sister 92-year-old Anne Russ Federman have life stories that hit all the key notes of the Jewish immigrant experience: hard work, humor, romance, and a little tsuris. Hattie and Anne are the two surviving daughters from the famed lox and herring emporium Russ & Daughters on the Lower East Side. This documentary – timed to coincide with the store’s centennial in 2014 – traces four generations of Russ family history, from patriarch Joel Russ, who immigrated to the US from Austria-Hungary with little more than the shirt on his back, to Josh Russ Tupper and Niki Russ Federman, Joel’s great grandchildren, now in their 30s, who run the store today. Niki’s father Mark Russ Federman, who ran the store from the 1970s until 2008, adds insights from his years researching Russ family history. The Sturgeon Queens will screen at the Manor Theatre, followed by A Taste of Jewish Pittsburgh with food samples. Tickets are $20.
Dancing in Jaffa
Renowned ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine takes his belief that dance can overcome political and cultural differences and applies it to 11-year-old Jewish and Palestinian Israelis. What occurs is magical and transformative. Dancing in Jaffa will screen at the Manor Theatre. Includes a performance by the students of Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh.
March 31st and April 6th
The Zigzag Kid
Nono longs to be a good detective like his father, a famous police inspector, but his wild nature constantly gets him into trouble. Gaby, his father’s secretary, cherishes Nono and recognizes his anguish, which comes from his lack of knowledge about his mother, who died when he was very little. Two days before his bar mitzvah, he is sent off to his uncle’s to be disciplined yet again. Once on the train, the over-imaginative boy discovers one last chance to prove himself. Together with charming international thief Felix Glick, an old acquaintance of his father’s, he travels to the French Rivera and enters a world of disguises and crazy pursuits, crossing paths with the famous singer Lola Ciperola (played by Isabella Rossellini) and Zohara, a mysterious woman whose secrets will forever change Nono’s life. Dutch, French and English with subtitles. The Zigzag Kid will screen at 7 p.m. on March 31st at Carmike 10 and at 3:30 p.m. on April 6th at the Manor Theatre.
Kidon begins in the morning of the 18th of February 2010 in Tel-Aviv when the whole world wakes up discovering, on the front page of all the newspapers, pictures of the Mossad agents caught while killing Mahmoud al Mabhouh in Dubai a month earlier. It was the first time that simple security cameras of a hotel caught secret agents red-handed, what’s more Israeli agents. But without doubt, the most surprised of all were the Mossad leaders who were the only ones to know for sure that the three men and the woman, whose faces were in all the newsrooms of the world, had nothing to do with them. From then on, a race against time is undertaken hoping to understand why everything is aiming at them. Hebrew and French with subtitles. Kidon will screen at the Manor Theatre.
April 1st & April 4th
Franek and Jozek Kalina, sons of a poor farmer, are brothers from a small village in central Poland. Franek immigrated to the United States in the 80’s, and cut all ties with his family. Only when Jozek’s wife arrives in the US, without explanation, does Franek finally return to his homeland. Franek discovers that Jozek has been ostracized from the community, and constantly receives various threats. As Franek and Jozek struggle to rebuild their relationship, they are drawn into a gothic tale of intrigue. The two brothers eventually uncover a dark secret that forces them to confront the history of their family and their hometown. Polish with subtitles. Aftermath will screen at 7 p.m. on April 1st and at 5 p.m. on April 4th at the Manor Theatre. Film Schmooze with noted historian Gregor Thum will follow the April 4th screening.
April 1st & April 5th
The Jewish Cardinal
The Jewish Cardinal tells the amazing true story of Jean-Marie Lustiger, the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants, who maintained his cultural identity as a Jew even after converting to Catholicism at a young age, and later joining the priesthood. Quickly rising within the ranks of the Church, Lustiger was appointed Archbishop of Paris by Pope Jean Paul II – and found a new platform to celebrate his dual identity as a Catholic Jew, earning him both friends and enemies from either group. When Carmelite nuns settle down to build a convent within the cursed walls of Auschwitz, Lustiger finds himself a mediator between the two communities – and may be forced at last to choose his side. French with subtitles. The Jewish Cardinal will screen at 7 p.m. on April 1st at Seton Hill‘s Cecilian Hall and at 7 p.m. on April 5th at the Manor Theatre. Film Schmooze with religion expert Paula Kane will follow the April 5th screening.
Celebrated playwright, Harold Blumenthal, has passed away after succumbing to cardiac arrest while laughing at his own joke. Now, Harold’s estranged and jealous brother, Saul, must confront his personal hang-ups to deliver himself from an epic bout of constipation. Meanwhile, Saul’s wife Cheryl and son Ethan must grapple with their own personal obstacles through a set of circumstances so improbably ironic they might as well have been lifted from one of Harold’s plays. Blumenthal will screen at the Manor Theatre.
When Comedy Went to School
Why are there so many Jewish comedians? When Comedy Went to School answers this question with an entertaining portrait of this country’s greatest generation of comics – the generation that includes the likes of Jerry Lewis, Sid Caesar, Jackie Mason, Mort Sahl, and Jerry Stiller, all of whom make appearances in the film, telling jokes and telling their stories. The answer is also found in upstate New York’s Catskill Mountains, aka the Borscht Belt, where Jewish immigrants transformed lush farmland into the 20th century’s largest resort complex. Those Catskill hotels and bungalow colonies provided the setting for a remarkable group of young Jewish-American comedians to hone their craft and become worldwide legends. When Comedy Went to School will screen at the Manor Theatre. Film Schmooze with film expert Lucy Fischer will follow the screening.
Brave Miss World
Miss Israel Linor Abargil was abducted, stabbed, and raped in Milan, Italy, at age 18. She had to represent her country in the Miss World competition only six weeks later. When to her shock she was crowned the winner, she vowed to do something about rape. The film follows her from the rape, to her crowning and through her crusade to fight for justice and break the silence. During her travels to speak out and meet with other rape victims, her own trauma begins to resurface. Her serial rapist becomes eligible for parole, and she has to hunt down his previous victims in order to help keep him behind bars. The film explores the trauma of sexual assault through one young woman’s journey from teenage rape victim to Miss World to empowered lawyer and activist. Brave Miss World will screen at Rodef Shalom with a VIP reception at 5:30 p.m. The evening includes a separate showing of the movie presented as part of a Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh‘s Women’s Philanthropy. Tickets are $50 for the VIP reception or $10 for the film only. Abargil will speak after the screening.
Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) is a quick-witted and lovable, yet tightly coiled, thirty-something steeped in the creative class of Los Angeles’s bohemian, affluent Silver Lake neighborhood. Everything looks just right – chic modernist home, successful husband, adorable child, and a hipster wardrobe. So why is she going out of her gourd with ennui? Deadened by the stultifying realities of preschool auctions, a lackluster sex life, and career that’s gone kaput, Rachel visits a strip club to spice up her marriage and meets McKenna (Juno Temple), a stripper whom she becomes obsessed with saving. She decides to adopt McKenna as her live-in nanny, and this bold move unleashes unimagined and colorful waves of change into her life and community. Afternoon Delight will screen at the Manor Theatre.
Next Year Jerusalem
Choosing life in life’s final chapter is the poignant subtext of the new independent documentary Next Year Jerusalem, a lyrical portrait of eight nursing home residents who travel to Israel on a tour. Earnest and nuanced, the film is a poetic exploration of living and dying, hope and fear, travel and memory. It is a celebration of human experience and a reverent tribute to life’s eldest travelers. Next Year Jerusalem will screen at the Manor Theatre. Ellen Ashkins, Director of Resident Life at Jewish Senior Services, will speak after the screening.
It Happened in St. Tropez
The funeral of Zef’s wife right when Roni’s daughter is getting married. That unexpected event only makes the existing conflicts between the two brothers worse. Their professions, their life choices and even their wives couldn’t be more different. Religious austerity on one side, intense enjoyment of life’s pleasures on the other. They have nothing in common but their aging father who’s losing his grip and their respective daughters who adore one another. From London to Paris, New York to Saint Tropez, showdowns, misunderstandings and betrayals all serve to blow up the family landscape. But out of the rubble of those arguments and haphazard reconciliations will blossom a beautiful love story – or two! In French with subtitles. It Happened in St. Tropez will screen at the Manor Theatre.
Tickets for the opening reception at $65 , $18 for full-time students (26 and under) or $80 (tickets must be purchased by 12 p.m. on March 21st). Individual screenings are $10 general admission, $8 for groups of 12 or more (group tickets must be purchased in advance), $5 youths (18 and under). Tickets are available for purchase at the JFilm website.
While doing research for his book The Heavens Are Empty: Discovering the Lost Town of Trochenbrod, author Avrom Bendavid-Val was determined to preserve the history of the place where his father was born. Once a thriving Jewish settlement, traces of Trochenbrod had all but disappeared seven decades after the Nazis massacred the population and left only a handful of survivors. As a companion to his book, Bendavid-Val’s also participated in the documentary Lost Town, which follows his journey of discovery. On Jan. 22nd, JFilm and the University of Pittsburgh Jewish Studies Program will present a special screening of the film at Rodef Shalom Congregation.
Directed by Jeremy Goldscheider and Richard Goldgewicht, Lost Town tells the story of one man’s obsessive search to get closer to his deceased father by uncovering the story of his family’s town of Trochenbrod. First made famous by Jonathan Safran Foer‘s Everything Is Illuminated, Trochenbrod was the only all-Jewish town to ever exist outside of Palestine. Trochenbrod’s 5,000 Jews were obliterated by the Nazis, except for 33 townspeople who escaped the massacre there. This personal search triggers a resurgence of interest in the town and reconnects the few remaining survivors who hadn’t seen each other in over 60 years. Lost Town utilizes contemporary documentary footage, original animation, and survivor testimonials to tell the story of how far some will go to claim their sense of identity.
Lost Town begins at 7 p.m. The event will also feature a dessert reception and post-screening Q&A with Bendavid-Val. Admission is $10, $5 for students (full-time, 26 and under). Tickets are available for purchase at Eventbrite.
For 20 years, the JFilm Festival has celebrated Jewish culture by bringing a number of movies and guest artists to Pittsburgh. This year, from April 11th to April 21st, the event celebrates film and music with a selection of works screened at various venues throughout the city.
April 11th – Paris-Manhattan
The debut feature from writer/director Sophie Lellouche follows an idealistic pharmacist named Alice (Alice Taglioni), who is totally obsessed with the movies of Woody Allen. She continually quotes lines from his films, engages in imaginary conversations, and even prescribes her customers his classic works to help alleviate their ailments; it’s little wonder she’s still single in her thirties! Alice’s increasingly concerned Jewish parents hope to cure her fixation by setting her up with a handsome French gentleman (Patrick Bruel), but even he quickly realizes that he’s no match for the man of her dreams. In French with English subtitles. In addition to opening night, there will be a repeat showing at 5:45 p.m. on April 18th at the Manor Theatre.
This documentary tells the remarkable story of a 1731 Stradivarius violin once owned by Israeli Philharmonic founder Bronislaw Huberman. Stolen in 1936 while Huberman played Carnegie Hall, it remained lost for nearly 50 years but was rediscovered in 1985 covered with shoe polish. The instrument was purchased by American virtuoso Joshua Bell, who will appear at a Q&A moderated by Sally Kalson, JFilm chair and Post-Gazette columnist. Movie screens in English, Polish, Hebrew with English subtitles. Showtime is 11 a.m. at the Rodef Shalom Congregation.
April 13th – A.K.A. Doc Pomus
Paralyzed with polio as a child, Brooklyn-born Jerome Felder reinvented himself first as a blues singer, renaming himself Doc Pomus, then emerged as a one of the most brilliant songwriters of the early rock and roll era, writing “Save the Last Dance for Me,” “This Magic Moment,” “A Teenager in Love,” “Viva Las Vegas,” and dozens of other hits. Packed with incomparable music and rare archival imagery, this documentary features interviews with Doc’s collaborators and friends, including Dr. John, Ben E. King, Joan Osborne, Shawn Colvin, Dion, and B.B. King. Showtime is 7 p.m. at the Manor.
Out in the Dark
Nimer, a Palestinian student and dedicated son, dreams of studying abroad and of a better life. One fateful night he meets Roy, an Israeli lawyer, and the two fall in love. As their relationship deepens, Nimer is confronted with the harsh realities of a Palestinian society that refuses to accept him for his sexual identity, and an Israeli society that rejects him for his Palestinian nationality. When his close friend is caught hiding illegally in Tel Aviv and sent back to the West Bank to be brutally murdered, Nimer is sent hurling down a path of personal sacrifice and mortal danger. Now he must choose between the life he thought he wanted and his love for Roy. In Hebrew and Arabic with subtitles. Showtime is 9 p.m. on April 13th at the Manor, with a repeat at 7:30 p.m. on April 18th, when director Michael Mayer will talk.
April 14th – My Australia
This tender and humorous drama is based on filmmaker Ami Drozd‘s own experiences. In a poor neighborhood in 1960s Poland, 10-year-old Tadek and his brother are in a gang with a strong anti-Semitic bent. When they are arrested, their mother, a Holocaust survivor, has no choice but to reveal that though raised as Catholics, they are in fact Jews. Telling the younger boy they are going to Australia, the land of his fantasies, the family boards a ship to Israel. In Polish and Hebrew with subtitles. Showtime is 1 p.m. at the Manor.
Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir
Andrew Braunsberg, a producer and close friend of the Oscar-winning filmmaker since 1964, leads him through an extended conversation about his harrowing childhood, the murder of his pregnant wife, statutory rape conviction and exile, and house arrest in Switzerland. Showtime is 3:15 p.m. at the Manor.
Ameer Got His Gun
Documentary about an 18-year-old who wants to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather by volunteering in the Israeli military, even though he is a Muslim Arab. Arabic and Hebrew with subtitles. Showtime is 6 p.m. at the Manor. Followed by free light dinner at theater and Yom Hazikaron service at the JCC.
April 15th – Wunderkinder
Director Marcus O. Rosenmüller‘s film tells a tale of three exceptionally musically talented children, who develop a deep and genuine friendship, extending beyond their different religions and nationalities. The two Jewish children Larissa and Abrascha are both virtuosos – one on the piano and the other on the violin. Hanna, a young German girl, is also extremely gifted. Living in Poltava/Ukraine in 1941, they all share one great love: music. But when the Nazis invade the Soviet Union, they and their families face mortal peril. Due to the insanity of grown-ups at home and abroad, their world is turned upside down, and they are suddenly no longer allowed to be friends. In German with subtitles. Recommended for ages 13 and older. Showtime is 7 p.m. at the Hollywood Theater, with a discussion to follow.
Fill the Void
Filmmaker Rama Burstein tells the story of an Orthodox Hassidic family from Tel Aviv. Eighteen-year-old Shira, the youngest daughter of the family, is about to be married off to a promising young man of the same age and background. But her wedding is postponed when her older sister, Esther, dies during childbirth. When Shira’s mother finds out that Yochay-Esther’s late husband- may remarry and move to Belgium with her only grandchild, she proposes a match between Shira and the widower. Shira will have to choose between her heart’s wish and her family duty. In Hebrew with subtitles. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. at the Manor.
April 16th – Sonny Boy
Love story, based on true events, between a Dutch divorced mother of four and a much younger Afro-Caribbean student who encounter prejudice, opposition and the devastation of World War II. In Dutch with subtitles. Showtime is 7 p.m. at Seton Hill‘s Reeves Auditorium.
Ballad of the Weeping Spring
Torn apart by tragedy, a legendary band reunites to play an emotional final concert in this stylized homage to Spaghetti Westerns and samurai epic shot entirely in Israel. In Hebrew with subtitles. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. at the Manor.
April 17th – Defiant Requiem
Actress Bebe Neuwirth narrates this documentary about the little-known story of the Nazi concentration camp, Terezin. Led by imprisoned conductor Rafael Schächter, the inmates of Terezin fought back with art and music. Through hunger, disease and slave labor, the Jewish inmates of Terezin hold onto their humanity by staging plays, composing opera and using paper and ink to record the horrors around them.This creative rebellion reaches its peak when Schächter teaches a choir of 150 inmates one of the world’s most difficult and powerful choral works, Verdi’s Requiem, re-imagined as a condemnation of the Nazis. The choir would ultimately confront the Nazis face to face… and sing to them what they dare not say. Showtime is 7 p.m. at the Manor.
A Bottle in the Gaza Sea
A plea for peace, written by a French teen in Jerusalem, is slipped into a bottle and tossed into the sea. She gets an email response from a young Palestinian in an adaptation of Valerie Zenatti‘s novel. In French, Hebrew and Arabic, with subtitles. Showtime is 8 p.m. in CMU‘s McConomy Auditorium.
April 18th – Jerusalem on a Plate
Internationally-renowned chef Yotam Ottolenghi returns to his home town of Jerusalem to discover the hidden treasures of its extraordinarily rich and diverse food culture. Screening followed by a Taste of Jewish Pittsburgh with samples from local caterers. Showtime is 11 a.m. at the Manor.
April 20th – Bert Stern: The Original Mad Man
The untold and intimate life story of bad boy photographer and cultural icon Bert Stern. After working alongside Stanley Kubrick at Look Magazine, Stern became an original Madison Avenue “mad man,” his images helping to create modern advertising. Groundbreaking photos of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Marilyn Monroe, Twiggy and the infamous Lolita image from Kubrick’s film, coupled with his astonishing success in advertising, minted Stern – along with Irving Penn and Richard Avedon – as a celebrity in his own right; indeed, Stern’s photographs of Monroe in her last sitting are considered to be the ultimate images of the 20th century icon. After marrying the stunning ballet dancer Allegra Kent, the kid from Brooklyn was sitting on top of the world…until a dramatic fall from grace. Filmmaker Shannah Laumeister uncovers Stern – from his bad boy antics (including a liaison with Monroe) to his iconic photography. Showtime is 9 p.m. at the Manor.
The Day I Saw Your Heart
Actress Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) stars as a twenty-something struggling with commitment issues in this French comedy-melodrama. After a trail of boyfriends, Justine thinks she has found her soul mate in hunky shoe salesman (Guillaume Gouix). But her temporary happiness is thrown when her neurotic 60-year-old Jewish father (Michel Blanc) suffers a delayed midlife crisis and announces that his young second wife is expecting a baby. The film follows Justine as she attempts to deal with the looming pregnancy and the torturous route to reconciliation. In French with English subtitles. Showtime are 7 p.m. on April 20th and 4 p.m. on April 21st at the Manor.
April 21st – Hava Nagila (The Movie)
It’s to music what the bagel is to food – a Jewish staple that has transcended its origins and become a worldwide hit. Bob Dylan sang it. Elvis, too. And that’s only the beginning when it comes to Hava Nagila. Follow the infectious party song on its fascinating journey from the shtetls of Eastern Europe to the cul-de‐sacs of America in this hilarious and surprisingly deep film. Featuring interviews with Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis, Glen Campbell, Leonard Nimoy, Regina Spektor and more, the documentary takes viewers from Ukraine and Israel to the Catskills, Greenwich Village, Hollywood – and even Bollywood – using the song as a springboard to explore Jewish history and identity and to spotlight the cross-cultural connections that can only be achieved through music. Showtime is 1 p.m. at the Manor.
Auschwitz prisoners, both Jewish or non-Jewish, were tattooed with serial numbers, first on their chests and then their left arms. An estimated 400,000 numbers were tattooed in Auschwitz and its sub-camps; only some several thousand survivors are still alive today. Numbered is an explosive, highly visual, and emotionally cinematic journey, guided by testimonies and portraits of these survivors. The film documents the dark time and setting during which these tattoos were assigned as well as the meaning they took on in the years following the war. In fact, the film’s protagonist is the number itself, as it evolves and becomes both a personal and collective symbol from 1940 to today. These scars, paradoxically unanimous and anonymous, reveal themselves to be diverse, enlightening, and full of life. In Hebrew and English with subtitles. Panel discussion and dessert reception to follow. Showtime is 7 p.m. at the Manor.
Tickets for the opening day screening of Paris-Manhattan are $75. All tickets for Jerusalem on a Plate are $20. All other films are $10 general admission, $8 for groups of 12 and above (group tickets must be purchased in advance), and $5 for youths 18 and under. Tickets are available for purchase at the JFilm Festival website.