Highlighting Jewish heritage through unique storytelling
By Deb Silverthorn
The late Golda Meir said that survival is the synonym for Jewish and that notion is a recurring theme in the films of the 23rd Annual Jewish Film Festival of Dallas. The Festival, produced by the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center and presented by Pegasus Bank, opens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4, at the Studio Movie Grill on Spring Valley, setting the bar with “Golda’s Balcony.”
“We have an amazing season of tremendous films that I’m certain the community will enjoy,” Film Festival Chair Brenda Marcus said. “We’ve got films portraying very powerful women, enlightening documentaries — plenty to think about, those that stimulate discussion and those that provide humor.”
Marcus has chaired the event, alongside the JCC’s Director of Israel Engagement and Jewish Living Rachelle Weiss Crane, for the last decade, prescreening more than 100 films each year.
The Festival’s 15 screenings of Jewish content and written by Jewish writers and directors will be shown through Sept. 26 at the Studio Movie Grill on Spring Valley, 13933 N. Central Expwy., unless otherwise noted. All foreign-language films are screened with English subtitles.
A special event, presented with UT Dallas’ Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies, AJC Dallas, the Japanese Consulate and Japan America Society, “Persona Non Grata” precedes the Festival at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 28, at UT Dallas. The film features the story of the late vice consul in Lithuania, Chiune Sugihara, credited with issuing 6,000 transit visas to Jews during World War II. Consul General of Japan in Houston Hideo Fukushima will share remarks after the screening.
‘Golda’s Balcony,’ 7 p.m. Sept. 4;
1 p.m. Sept. 25 (at the Aaron Family JCC)
The opening film, “Golda’s Balcony,” was filmed over two performances of the Broadway play. The award-winning Tova Feldshuh portrays Golda Meir from Russian schoolgirl to American teacher to prime minister of Israel, focusing on the period surrounding the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
‘King Bibi,’ 9:15 p.m. Sept. 7;
7 p.m. Sept. 23
“King Bibi” is a documentary that follows Israel’s prime minister from his childhood to his emergence in his current role.
‘Promise at Dawn,’ 7 p.m. Sept. 10
“Promise at Dawn,” an adaptation of Romain Gary’s memoir, recounts his life from childhood through his experiences in World War II. It’s a compelling story about his self-sacrificing mother, who raised him always believing in his potential to ultimately become a famous writer and diplomat.
‘Carl Laemmle,’ 1 p.m. Sept. 11;
7 p.m. Sept. 25
“Carl Laemmle” is a documentary about how the German-born founder of Universal Pictures sold the studio in the midst of the Depression, and spent his last three years of life saving the lives of more than 300 Jewish families during the war.
‘The Tobacconist,’ 7 p.m. Sept. 12
“The Tobacconist,” based on Robert Seethaler’s novel, is the coming-of-age story of a young man and his friendship with Sigmund Freud during the Nazi occupation of Vienna.
‘The Unorthodox,’ 9:15 p.m. Sept. 14; 7 p.m. Sept. 16 (at the Aaron Family JCC)
“The Unorthodox” is a fictionalized account of the creation of Israel’s Shas party. When the daughter of a Mizrahi printer, who has little money and no connections or political experience, is expelled from an Ashkenazi yeshiva, the father creates a campaign to begin a new political party.
‘‘Autonomies,’ 4 p.m. Sept. 15
“Autonomies” explores an alternate reality of present-day Israel. A haredi wheeler-dealer who makes his living smuggling minor contraband between the secular “State of Israel” and the ultra-Orthodox “Haredi Autonomy” receives an offer to kidnap a little girl at the heart of a custody battle between two families — one haredi and one secular.
‘Leona,’ 7 p.m. Sept. 17
“Leona” is a romantic comedy that focuses on Ariela, an independently-minded artist living with her family in a cloistered Syrian-Jewish neighborhood in Mexico City. Ariela struggles with her families desire for her to meet an appropriate suitor and her own feminist self-determinism.
‘Working Woman,’ 7 p.m. Sept. 18
“Working Woman,” follows a mother of three who returns to the workplace to support her family. Balancing her home life and success in her career, she is also faced with harassment from her boss and husband forcing her to make the choice between career and self-worth.
‘Chewdaism,’ 7 p.m. Sept. 26
“Chewdaism” and two “Yidlife Crises” shorts close out this year’s Festival. “Chewdaism” features a tasteful tour of bagels, deli-smoked meats, poutine, babka and more, whetting viewers’ taste buds. The connection Jews make, regardless of religious affiliation, to the recipes of our people is unmistakable, and connective, in this “noshumentary” tour through Montreal, Canada.
“Dallas is a city of growing diversity, and the Jewish Film Festival has played a significant part in this growth by its emphasis on educating our community to the importance of inclusiveness,” Pegasus Bank CEO Joe Goyne said. “Regardless of our faith or our political views, we want a life wherein we are safe, wherein we can raise our families and educate and enjoy our children. Pegasus Bank is thrilled and honored to partner with the Jewish Film Festival of Dallas.”
The 23rd Annual Jewish Film Festival of Dallas — getting “reel,” real soon.
Details, trailers, and ticket sales are available at jccdallas.org/special-events/film-festival and tickets are also available at the JCC.