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Dim the Lights!

ct cover 12-2-11The Mandell JCC Hartford Jewish Film Festival — March 20 – 30

 

Silence your cell phones, unwrap your candies, make note of the exits — the reel is about to roll on the 18th Annual Mandell JCC Jewish Film Festival.

From opening night on Thursday, March 20 through Sunday, March 30, Greater Hartford’s popular film fest will present 23 features, shorts and documentaries from 13 countries, screening in five area venues.

In addition to the screenings, say Festival co-chairs Dr. Benson Monastersky and Ronny Siegel, the Festival will be highlighted by live concerts, parties and Reel Talk conversations with visiting filmmakers and others. For the first time, the Festival will also host free student screening events at two high schools and six university campuses in Hartford, Farmington, New Britain, New Haven, Storrs and West Hartford.

For tickets and other information, stop by the Mandell JCC, Zachs Campus, 335 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford, call (860) 231-6316 or (860) 236-4571, or visit www.hjff.org.

 

 

OPENING NIGHT THURSDAY, MARCH 20

5:30 p.m. opening dinner buffet reception

7:30 p.m. film

At Spotlight Theatres, Front St., Hartford

 

The Jewish Cardinal

The Jewish Cardinal

THE JEWISH CARDINAL 

(France, 2012, French with English subtitles)

The gripping story of Jean-Marie Aaron Lustiger, Archbishop of Paris and the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants, is recounted in this star-studded historical drama. Born in 1926, Lustiger’s parents were deported to Auschwitz while he was hidden with his sister. Lustiger maintained his cultural Jewish identity even after converting to Catholicism at 14 and later joining the priesthood.

 

 

Paris-Manhattan

Paris-Manhattan

SATURDAY, MARCH 22

PARIS-MANHATTAN

(France, 2012, French with English subtitles)

8 p.m. dessert reception

9 p.m. film

At the Mandell JCC, West Hartford

 

The eternal wisdom of Woody Allen, a stunning cast and seductive Paris scenes set to a jazz-infused score highlight this warm- hearted romantic comedy about Alice, a beautiful but loveless 30-something Jewish Parisian looking for her dream guy.

 

 

Life in Stills

Life in Stills

SUNDAY, MARCH 23

(At Spotlight Theatre)

1 p.m., Spotlight Theatres, Hartford

LIFE IN STILLS

(Israel, 2011, Hebrew and German with English subtitles)

Miriam Weissenstein, the feisty and witty 96-year-old widow of famed Israeli photographer Rudi Weissenstein, joins forces with her grandson Ben to save the family’s photographic legacy – and Israel’s – when their iconic Pri-Or Photo House, a fixture in the heart of Tel Aviv since 1940, is destined for demolition.

Screens with

THE GAMBLING MAN

(USA, 2013, English)

Retired West Hartford, Connecticut radiologist Dr. Albert ‘Alby’ Hurwit left medicine in 1986 to pursue his dream of creating music. The self-taught composer used computers, software programs and synthesizers to translate the music in his head to a complete symphony. A successful Harvard and Tufts educated physician – who failed a piano sight-reading test in college – Alby’s award-winning symphony is the hopeful story of his immigrant ancestors who escaped persecution in Russia, fleeing to freedom in America.

 

Brave Miss World

Brave Miss World

3 p.m., Spotlight Theatres, Hartford

BRAVE MISS WORLD

(Israel/Italy/South Africa/USA, 2013, English, Hebrew, Italian with English subtitles)

At age 18, Israeli beauty queen Linor Abargil survived a horrific knife-point rape and abduction in Italy days before being crowned Miss World in 1998. This unflinching new documentary chronicles Linor’s personal quest for justice and her healing journey while refusing to be ashamed.

 

Reel Talk immediately following film will feature guest speakers: Garvin G. Ambrose, State of Connecticut victim advocate; Cecilia Peck, director (via Skype) and Rachel Marcus, LCSW, Jewish Family Services of Greater Hartford; moderated by Laura Cordes, executive director, CONNSACS (Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, Inc.).

Brave Miss World will be screened for students and faculty at many universities and colleges during Festival week. A complete list of screenings is posted on www.hjff.org.

 

Bethlehem

Bethlehem

7 p.m., Spotlight Theatres, Hartford

BETHLEHEM

(Belgium/Israel/Germany/United Kingdom, 2013, Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles)

This gripping spy thriller centers on the complex relationship between Razi, an Israeli Shin Bet (Secret Service) agent and Sanfur, his hot-headed teenage Palestinian informant, whose terrorist brother Ibrahim is on the run.

 

The Zigzag Kid

The Zigzag Kid

MONDAY, MARCH 24

7 p.m., Beth El Temple, West Hartford

THE ZIG ZAG KID

(Netherlands, 2012, Dutch, English and French with English subtitles)

Two days shy of his Bar Mitzvah, the trouble-making, over-imaginataive Nono Feierberg is sent by train to visit boring Uncle Shmuel. En route to the French Riviera he meets up with foxy criminal Felix and charming chanteuse Lola, embarking on a high-speed joyride with spectacular chases, zany disguises and even a giant chocolate factory.

 

 

50 Children

50 Children

TUESDAY, MARCH 25

7 p.m., Mandell JCC

Tribute: Observations on Survival and Spirit Lessons From The Holocaust

50 CHILDREN – THE RESCUE MISSION OF MR. AND MRS KRAUS

(USA, 2013, English)

This inspiring documentary tells the story of Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus, a well-to-do young Philadelphia couple who, against all odds, brought the single largest group of unaccompanied children during the Holocaust out of Nazi Germany and to safety in the United States.

Screens with

Nyosha

(Israel, 2012, Hebrew with English subtitles)

Based on the true Holocaust survival story of the director’s grandmother, Nyosha is a stop-action animated short film about a 10- year-old girl, her faith and how a pair of shiny new black shoes saved her life in Nazi-occupied Poland.

 

Reel Talk immediately following films will feature director/producer/writer Steven; Dr. Robert Braun of Fairfield, one of the rescued children, and Professor Avinoam Patt, Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies, University of Hartford, who will serve as moderator.

 

 

Next Year Jerusalem

Next Year Jerusalem

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26

2 p.m., The Emanuel Synagogue, 160 Mohegan Dr., West Hartford

NEXT YEAR JERUSALEM

(USA, 2013, English and Hebrew with English subtitles)

In November 2011, eight senior residents of Fairfield Connecticut’s Jewish Home for the Elderly – average age 91- embarked on their last great adventure, a 10-day pilgrimage to Israel. Their story is told by Weston native documentarian David Gaynes. Some of the travelers – both Jews and Christians – made the trip using wheelchairs and walkers, overcoming physical and emotional challenges.

Reel Talk immediately following film features director David Gaynes and trip participants, moderated by Denis Geary, executive director of the Jewish Association for Community

Living. Dessert reception will follow.

Screens with

Jerusalem of Steel 

(Israel, 2005, animation)

This original animated short film about robots inhabiting the Old City of Jerusalem was created for the Mabatim project of the Jerusalem Film Festival, spotlighting emerging Israeli filmmakers, animators, lighting and video designers.

 

Cupcakes

Cupcakes

6 p.m., Digiplex Destinations

CUPCAKES

(Israel, 2013, Hebrew with English subtitles)

A group of Tel Aviv friends and Universong fans commiserate about their lives and jokingly create a silly melody to cheer up the heartbroken Anat, a baker.

Screens with

Gentledog

(Israel, 2012, Hebrew with English subtitles)

This witty short comedy about a talking dog, a desperate boyfriend and his beautifuldate is a biting satire about the love life of today’s single men and women as seen through a dog’s eyes…..and his unusual bark. So who’s the man and who’s the dog?

 

When Day Breaks

When Day Breaks

8:15 p.m., Digiplex Destinations

WHEN DAY BREAKS

(Serbia, Serbian with English subtitles)

Retired music professor Misha Brankov discovers his true Jewish origins when his life is turned upside down following the unearthing of a rusty iron box at the Old Fairgrounds in Belgrade — the site of the Judenlager Semlin Nazi concentration camp where 48,000 Serbian Jews and Gypsies perished. A 2012 Oscar foreign film nominee, the film will be introduced by the film’s editor, Kristina Pozenel.

 

 

Aftermath

Aftermath

THURSDAY, MARCH 27

6 p.m., Digiplex Destinations, Bloomfield

AFTERMATH 

(Poland/Netherlands/Russia/Slovakia, 2012, Polish with English subtitles)

After unearthing scores of uprooted Jewish tombstones scattered around their idyllic village, two Polish brothers are forced to revise perceptions of their father, their family and neighbors, and the history of their nation.

 

Putzel

Putzel

8:15 p.m., Digiplex Destinations

PUTZEL 

(USA, 2012, English)

For Walter Himmelstein (Jack Carpenter) endearingly known as Putzel, life literally doesn’t go beyond his family’s smoked fish emporium on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Walter’s aspirations of taking over soon-to-retire Uncle Sid’s lox store are disrupted by the arrival of aspiring dancer Sally.

Screens with Gentledog (see above)

 

8:15 p.m., Digiplex Destinations

BETHLEHEM

See March 23

 

 

Downtown Express

Downtown Express

SATURDAY, MARCH 29

8:45 p.m., Digiplex Destination, Bloomfield

DOWNTOWN EXPRESS

(USA, 2011, English)

Two brilliant musicians – Grammy-nominated violinist Philippe Quint and singer-songwriter Nellie McKay – star in this musical movie set

in the New York City world of Russian-Jewish immigrants.

 

8:45 p.m., Digiplex Destinations,

Bloomfield

THE JEWISH CARDINAL

See March 20

 

 

Mama Doni Jewish Holiday Party

Mama Doni Jewish Holiday Party

SUNDAY, MARCH 30

Family Flicks & Live Concert

10 a.m., Mandell JCC

MAMA DONI’S JEWISH HOLIDAY PARTY – IT’S PASSOVER!

(USA, 2013, English)

The original Jewish singing cowgirl, Mama Doni Zasloff returns in person to sing, dance and story-tell her way through Passover and Shabbat with the premiere of her new film series, Mama Doni’s Jewish Holiday Party! Refreshments will follow the film and live concert.

 

Etgar Keret - What Animal Are You

Etgar Keret – What Animal Are You

12 p.m., Digiplex Destinations,Bloomfield

Etgar Keret – What Animal Are You?

(Israel, 2013, English and Hebrew with English subtitles)

An entertaining documentary that follows renowned Israeli writer Etgar Keret on a whirlwind book tour to the Big Apple.

Screens with:

The Goldfish

(USA, 2013, English)

This original short film starring Parenthood’s Jason Ritter is based on Etgar Keret’s famed short story, “What of This Goldfish Would You Wish?”

and

What About Me? 

(Israel, 2012, Hebrew with English subtitles)

About a man and his donkey who are separated at a desert army checkpoint in Israel.

 

12 p.m., Digiplex Destinations

PARIS-MANHATTAN

see March 22

 

2 p.m., Digiplex Destinations

CUPCAKES

Screens with Gentledog

See March 26

 

2 p.m., Digiplex Destinations

PUTZEL

Screens with Gentledog

 

The Prime Ministers

The Prime Ministers

4 p.m., Digiplex Destinations,Bloomfield

THE PRIME MINISTERS – THE PIONEERS

(USA, 2013, English and Hebrew with English subtitles)

Based on the best-selling memoir by Ambassador Yehuda Avner, who served as chief aide and speechwriter to many Israeli prime ministers, this sweeping docudrama is an insider’s account of six decades of Israel’s history, with many ife behind- the-scenes stories about Israeli and American leaders.

 

Hunting Elephants

Hunting Elephants

CLOSING NIGHT FILM AND RECEPTION

7:30 p.m., Mandell JCC

Followed by a reception and music by Lamar Duo

HUNTING ELEPHANTS

(Israel, 2013 English and Hebrew with English subtitles)

This comedy crime-caper is the story of a clever kid, three old men, and a bank just waiting to be robbed.

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