Jewish Film Festival goes virtual for 2021
Photo: Courtesy Dani Menkin
Dani Menkin, director of the first two films of the 2021 Jewish Film Festival of Dallas, is shown here on the set of “Little Town,” which he directed last year.  Menkin, second from left, is with his son Benjamin and actors Crystal St. John, Jason Paul Field and Grant Stevens. 

Starts Jan. 19

 By Deb Silverthorn

The 2021 Jewish Film Festival of Dallas, presented by the Jewish Community Center of Dallas and title sponsor Pegasus Bank, continues its virtual programming with six film and Talk Back events beginning Jan. 19. 

The J’s #LetsGetReel spirit soars in its 24th year, with films of adventure, romance and comedy again produced by Rachelle Weiss Crane, the J’s director of Israel Engagement and Jewish Living; Event Chair Brenda Marcus; and Adina Weinberg, Jewish Outreach and Cultural coordinator.

The 2021 lineup: “Is That You?” (Jan. 19-21), “Aulcie” (Jan. 25-27), “Incitement” (Feb. 1-3), “Mrs. G” (Feb. 8-10) and “Douze Points” (March 1-3). A yet-to-be-determined title will be screened Feb. 22-24, with its Talk Back event Feb. 25. 

Each film’s streaming window is 48 hours from release beginning at 7 p.m. with the corresponding Talk Back event at 7 p.m. at the end of the run (except for “Is That You?”). Once a ticket is purchased, information for film access is supplied. Each Talk Back event (all free) requires a separate registration.

“We’re proud to continue supporting the JCC and the community,” said Pegasus Bank CEO Joe Goyne. “We’d maybe love to be in the theater with a bag of popcorn but knowing we can be home, healthy and safe, is what we really want. Pegasus Bank is thrilled to, with the J’s incredible staff and other sponsors, bring us all ‘together.’”

“Is That You?” is the story of Israelis Ronnie and Rachel, who as teenage sweethearts promised that no matter what, they’d celebrate her 60th birthday together. Years later, Ronnie searches for Rachel, now living in America. Accompanying him is an American film student working on a documentary about regrets. The film begins with one individual’s quest to recapture what was lost, becoming a commentary on life’s “what-ifs.” 

“Aulcie” depicts the life of Aulcie Perry, a Harlem, New York, native who immigrated to Israel. A Maccabi Tel Aviv superstar who led the team to win the European Championship in 1977 and in 1981, the film documents his celebrity struggles and the pain pill addiction that led to his arrest and imprisonment. Ultimately, it is an inspirational story of fame, love, loss and redemption.

The Talk Back for both “Is That You?” and “Aulcie” is at 7 p.m. Jan. 27, with the films’ writer and director Dani Menkin, producer Ori Eisen and Morton Meyerson of Dallas. 

“It will be an honor to talk to Ori and to Mort, who has said many of the stories I’ve told on film reflect his life,” said Menkin. “I’m looking forward to meeting with the Dallas community again, even if it’s virtual.”

“Incitement” is a chilling look into the mind of the assassin of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Yigal Amir’s actions are played out against the backdrop of Rabin’s attempt to orchestrate a comprehensive peace settlement. The Talk Back is Feb. 4 with David Patterson, the Hillel A. Feinberg Distinguished Chair in Holocaust Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas. Among Patterson’s areas of specialization, in addition to the Holocaust, are Jewish thought, antisemitism and Israel. 

Pam Hochster Fine, a psychotherapist with the Therapy Center for Women and Families, leads the Feb. 11 Talk Back for “Mrs. G,” the story of Lea Gottlieb, Gottex swimwear founder, legendary designer and Holocaust survivor. She started her company in her Tel Aviv apartment, navigating her way to the top of the fashion world. 

“I’m excited to discuss this documentary; a cross section of my professional career and my role as a March of the Living leader for 15 years,” said Fine. “It’s a fascinating look at a survivor who started with nothing and built an empire. She was greatly respected by her employees but her relationship with her children was a struggle.”

“Douze Points,” its Talk Back led by Mark Kreditor March 4, is a comedy-thriller-satire following TJ, a proud, gay Muslim singer fulfilling his dream to represent France in Europe’s biggest song contest. ISIS plants an operative, acting as TJ’s boyfriend, into the French delegation to set off an explosion under the stage during the final performance.

As she has for the past 10 years — seven with her husband Peter of blessed memory — Event Chair Marcus has screened more than 100 films before sharing 26 to her committee to narrow the field. Marcus welcomes anyone over the age of 18 interested in joining the committee, to reach out. 

“Our dedicated volunteers do a stalwart job,” she said. “We take everyone’s opinions seriously in making our final choices. It’s not easy, because we’re always offered so many good films, but it’s a wonderful opportunity.”

Joining the J and Pegasus Bank in support are the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies at The University of Texas at Dallas; AJC Global Jewish Advocacy; Belmont Village Senior Living Turtle Creek; congregations Anshai Torah, Beth Torah and Shearith Israel; Dallas Jewish Historical Society; the Israel Consulate Office of Cultural Arts; Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Israel & Overseas; Jewish War Veterans Dr. Harvey J. Bloom Post 256; The Legacy Senior Communities; and the Women of Adat Chaverim. 

“Our virtual connection brings us to an even greater audience,” said Marcus. “The Festival has continued and remains the dream we’re honored to bring together.”

For additional details and registration, visit Anyone interested in joining the JCC’s Film Festival committee should email

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