Deadline approaching for JCC’s Emerging Filmmaker Contest

All submissions, applications due March 1

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

Lights. Camera. Action.
Action, as in care of young filmmakers, is at the core of the first Jewish Film Festival of Dallas Emerging Filmmaker contest. Applications recently posted and submissions are due March 1, 2018. The contest, in memory of Dr. Peter Marcus, looks to receive contributions of film and video creations with a Jewish tone.
For 10 of its 21 years, Marcus and his wife Brenda were dedicated to the Jewish Film Festival of Dallas, serving as event chairs for eight years. Each fall they helped bring creative, evocative, educational, humorous and thrilling films with Jewish stories to the community.

Photo: Marcus Family Peter Marcus (bottom center), of blessed memory, seen here with sons Barry (left) and David and his wife Brenda, is the namesake of the JCC’s Jewish Film Festival of Dallas Emerging Filmmaker Contest.  Applications are open online and film submissions are due March 1.
Photo: Marcus Family
Peter Marcus (bottom center), of blessed memory, seen here with sons Barry (left) and David and his wife Brenda, is the namesake of the JCC’s Jewish Film Festival of Dallas Emerging Filmmaker Contest. Applications are open online and film submissions are due March 1.

“Film is a reflection of our culture and our history and I love, and Peter would love, that the J has chosen to honor his memory in this way,” said Brenda. With her husband she screened more than 100 films each year, working with a dedicated committee, narrowing the field to 10 for the community to experience. The couple researched films, contacted distributors, spending almost full-time hours going through the process. Brenda is already deep in reviews for the 2018 festival, continuing her husband’s legacy and love for sharing Israeli and Judaic culture through film.
“I miss my sounding board and while it’s hard to be screening films now without him, I just watched a prospective film about a baker who was describing the ‘respect’ one needs for the dough as he worked in the kitchen. I both laughed and cried as I imagined Peter here making his potato loaf, and how his mind went into creating it. That’s how we watched films together — finding bits and pieces that touched us and brought out emotions, whether of joy, sadness, love, anger — it didn’t matter as long as it made us feel.”
When one festival ended, the Marcuses would watch films for the next year, often the very next day.
“People coming to the festival only see the end product but my parents worked amazingly hard to bring the best Jewish-themed films,” said David, who with his brother Barry is co-chairing the competition named for their father, who passed away last June. “We are honored and we look forward to seeing what the filmmakers have to offer. I think we’ll view them and think ‘what would Dad have liked,’ and if it launches the career of an upcoming young filmmaker, all the better.”
“Peter and Brenda, really as one, have been an integral part of our film festival and the J is thrilled to reach out to the next generation of filmmakers,” said Rachelle Weiss Crane, Aaron Family JCC director of Israel Engagement and Living. “Even from his hospice bed Peter was screening films and taking calls and that dedication kept all of us going, and made even last year’s festival, his last, so incredibly magnificent. This prize, in his honor, is something very special and important to us all.”
The Emerging Filmmaker prize will be presented to an artist younger than 25 who is chosen for his or her submission of an outstanding short film which contains a Jewish theme. Applicants under the age of 18 are required to have a parent’s written permission. Submissions will be accepted from all genres including narrative, documentary and animation. A committee will choose the winner. More than one award may be given depending on number of applicants and value of works submitted.
Films, no more than 40 minutes in total, must be shot in HD or 1080p format and submitted in the form of a link to a viewable film. While the filmmaker(s) don’t have to be Jewish, the piece must reflect some aspect of Jewish life or the Jewish experience, whether historical, religious, cultural or personal. In addition, applicants must include a personal statement explaining why the Jewish element of the film is important to its creation and a brief treatment or synopsis of the film as well as a plan for securing rights that still require clearance (stock footage, music, etc). Complete rules and information are available on the J’s website. The prize for the winning applicant will be $500 and the honor of having their film screened during the 2018 Jewish Film Festival of Dallas.
“My father grew up in 1950s during the ‘golden age of Hollywood,’ he was enchanted by the movies he saw as a child, and he imparted this love of film to us,” Barry said. “He was able to memorize and quote much of the dialogue from his favorite films, and together we watched Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, The Greatest Show on Earth, Giant, Lawrence of Arabia, the James Bond films, and many others. Diary of a Mad Housewife and Lost in America were annual viewing traditions in our home.
“David attended film school as an aspiring actor before becoming a professional sports anchor and reporter. I was a film critic for my high school and college newspapers, I wrote film soundtracks for student movies, and I worked as a script doctor for a small film company in Austin,” Barry continued.
The brothers explained that they are both aspiring screenplay writers. “Our love of culture and the arts is definitely a gift from our parents and something we’re excited to impart through this competition, the Jewish link something deeply embedded and important to everyone connected.”
For more information, or those wishing to make a donation to support the arts prize, email or

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