US/World News

Hundreds attend 1st Jewish film festival in Casablanca

(JTA) — Nearly 500 people attended the first Jewish film festival of Casablanca, which was organized in the Moroccan city by a Sephardic Jewish woman from Atlanta. The three-day event, which ended Wednesday, April 27, featured three films about the “consequences of the emigration of the Jews from the fabric of Moroccan society,” the organizer, Vanessa Paloma, told JTA on Thursday. Each screening drew about 150 viewers, she said. One of the two fictional features screened was “Aida,” which was also Morocco’s submission to the Academy Awards for best foreign language film, about a Paris-based Jewish music teacher’s battle with cancer. Reactions to the festival were overwhelmingly positive, said Paloma, a singer of Judeo-Spanish music and a researcher on identity and the arts in Moroccan Judaism. She has lived in Casablanca since 2009 with her Moroccan-Jewish husband, Maurice Elbaz. But the event also provoked negative reactions in Morocco, which despite being one of the Muslim world’s few countries where Jewish heritage is celebrated openly, nonetheless has a vociferous anti-Israel lobby that at times resorts to antisemitic rhetoric.

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