By Deb Silverthorn
The curtains will soon again rise, in-person, as the Aaron Family JCC’s 26th Annual Jewish Film Festival runs from Wednesday, Sept. 7, through Friday, Sept. 30. For the festival’s fall season, five films will screen in-person, then streamed via Eventive, with Zoom Talk Back conversations hosted for three of the films. All screenings will debut in-person, at 7 p.m. at the Studio Movie Grill at Royal Lane and Central Expressway, then followed by two days’ availability online.
“We received many requests to return to the theater for screenings as well as many requests to continue our virtual festival,” said JCC Israel Engagement/Jewish Living Director and Film Festival Producer Rachelle Weiss Crane, “and we are doing our best to meet the needs of our community by doing both.
“This unique and important cultural event, which showcases Jewish films from around the world, is something so many in the community look forward to,” said Weiss Crane, “and we’re so glad to be able to return to the seats at Studio Movie Grill and see films on the big screen.”
This is Brenda Marcus’ 17th year as chair of the JCC’s Film Festival. She and Weiss Crane are joined by committee members to curate this year’s lineup.
“Our committee is comprised of people from all over our community — from different shuls, of all ages and careers. It’s really quite a nice diverse group that somehow came to a consensus for these wonderful films,” said Marcus, who watched more than 50 films to narrow the field for her committee. “We’ve all spent so much time watching films and truly we’ve found — as we believe we do every year — the best of the best. I feel like I say it each year but, again, we’ve got the best of the best.”
Committee members are: Ann and Steve Meyer, Nancy Brickman, Joyce Govrin, Catherine and Paul Lake, Haiya Naftali, Gerri Patterson, Micole Pidgeon, Richard Rome, Kimberly Ross, Karla Steinberg, Carol and Joram Wolanow and David Zoller.
‘The Man in the Basement’
“The Man in the Basement” will open the 2022 Fall Filmfest season in-person on Wednesday, Sept. 7, and will be available online from Saturday evening, Sept. 10, through Tuesday, Sept. 13. At 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 12, Congregation Shearith Israel’s Rabbi Adam Roffman will conduct the Talk Back via Zoom.
A thriller with undertones of antisemitism, “The Man in the Basement” tells the story of Simon, Helen and their daughter, who live in the Paris apartment that has belonged to his Jewish family for generations. The family decides to sell the basement residence to an elderly man, only too late learning disturbing facts.
“iMordecai,” with a cast that includes Sean Astin, Judd Hirsch and Carol Kane, will premiere on Tuesday, Sept. 13, with online access from Saturday evening, Sept. 17, through Tuesday, Sept. 20.
Based on a true story, “iMordecai” features Hirsch and Kane as Holocaust survivors from Poland, now living in Miami. When Mordecai’s flip-phone breaks, he’s tutored on his iPhone by a young tech professional who opens him up to novel experiences and adventures.
‘Farewell, Mr. Haffman’
“Farewell, Mr. Haffmann” will first screen on Thursday, Sept. 15, with virtual access available from Saturday evening, Sept. 17, through Tuesday, Sept. 20.
In “Farewell, Mr. Haffmann,” members of the Jewish community are forced, in occupied Paris in 1941, to identify themselves. Jeweler Joseph Haffmann arranges for his family to flee the city, offering his employee François the chance to take over his store until conflict subsides, but when his own escape is prevented, he’s forced to hide with François and his wife in his own home.
“Berenshtein,” will screen on Monday, Sept. 19, with virtual access Tuesday, Sept. 20, through Thursday, Sept. 22.
Combining fiction and documentary filmmaking, “Berenshtein” is the story of Leonid Berenshtein, a Jewish partisan battalion commander in Ukraine, during World War II, forced to hide his Jewish identity from his antisemitic comrades. Despite that, he made an amazing discovery which helped change the outcome of the war.
UT Dallas’ Hillel A. Feinberg Distinguished Chair in Holocaust Studies and Hillel A. Feinberg Distinguished Professor–Literature and History Dr. David Patterson will lead the Talk Back discussion for both “Farewell Mr. Haffmann” and “Berenshtein” at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22, via Zoom.
‘The Levys of Monticello’
“The Levys of Monticello” will end the fall season on screen on Wednesday, Sept. 21, and online from the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 27, through Friday evening, Sept. 30.
“The Levys of Monticello” chronicles Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello residence. Designed by Jefferson, built and tended by slaves, the palatial plantation was his presidential retreat, retirement home and final resting place. When it was sold due to mounting debts, Urian Phillips Levy, a Jewish naval officer and fervent believer in Jeffersonian ideals, became the unlikely caretaker, and his family restored and saved the estate from ruin.
Sponsors and ticket info
Title sponsor Comerica Bank is joined by community partners Aaron Family J Seniors, Adat Chaverim and the Women of Adat Chaverim, UT Dallas’ Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies, Congregation Beth Torah’s Adult Ed, Chai Lights and Sisterhood, Congregation Shearith Israel, Dallas Jewish Historical Society and Jewish War Veterans Post 256 and Auxiliary in presenting the fall series of films.
“Comerica Bank is excited to return as the title sponsor of this year’s Jewish Film Festival,” said Comerica Bank Dallas Market President Amanda Mahaney. “As a relationship bank, we take pride in supporting our longtime community and business partner The J, while raising expectations in the diverse communities we both serve by amplifying the Jewish experience through film and the arts.”
“Audience interaction — people laughing, crying and sharing all the emotions together — is something we’ve really missed,” said Weiss Crane. “Films are meant for the big screen and big audiences, and we can’t wait to see all our friends and supporters.”
For more information, or to purchase tickets for either the in-person screenings or the Eventive streaming platform, visit jccdallas.org/special-events/film-festival.