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The Jewish International Film Festival’s Full Program Is Here. Let’s Jiff and Chill!

September 26, 2017 Whats On No Comments Email Email

From Australian documentaries The Last Goldfish and My Mother’s Lost Childrento intimate Yiddish drama Menashefascinating biopic Rebel in the Rye, and award-winning hits In Between and Keep the Changethe Jewish International Film Festival is back for another year of outstanding Jewish cinema from all over the world (25 October – 22 November).

With 65 films from 26 countries, the Festival builds on a 28 year long history of bringing the best of Jewish cinema to Australia, presenting 38 features and 23 documentaries to audiences in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Canberra. The Festival will also screen films by the inaugural recipients of the JIFF Short Film Fund, Dream House and Still Alive.

“I am thrilled with the incredible creativity and diverse storytelling of our films in the line-up this year. With the first commercial release Yiddish language film in over 50 years, and fantastic events including a live jazz night and a collaboration with Sydney Writer’s Festival, we’re extremely proud to present our 2017 program,” said Jewish International Film Festival Artistic Director, Eddie Tamir.

“We’ll see you at the movies! JIFF and chill.”

The Festival kicks off with film festival favourite Menashe, an intimate drama critically acclaimed worldwide. Shot entirely in the Yiddish language and in the insular New York Hasidic community, it follows a widowed father struggling to hold onto his beloved son.

Closing the Festival will be The Rebel in the Rye, starring Kevin Spacey (American Beauty) and Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Days of Future Past). A fascinating biopic on the infamously-reclusive author JD Salinger, the film covers everything from Salinger’s Jewish upbringing and his WWII service, to the completion of his iconic novel The Catcher in the Rye.

Highlights of the 2017 program include: moving drama In Between, following three Palestinian women living in Tel Aviv balancing traditional and modern culture, and winner of the Best Feature at Tribeca 2017, Keep the Change, a charming romantic comedy about the blossoming relationship between two people at a support group.

Not to be missed is Bombshell: the Hedy Lamarr Story, narrated by Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds) and featuring interviews with Mel Brooks (The Producers) and Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show), the eye-opening showbiz documentary shines a light on Hollywood queen Hedy Lamarr.

The Festival is also a great chance to catch poignant screwball rom-com The Wedding Plan, and Ben-Gurion, Epiloguea rare, recently unearthed 1968 interview with Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, with director Yariv Mozer taking part in an audience Q&A post-screening.

Showcasing the best of local Jewish filmmaking, the Festival will screen The Last Goldfish, an autobiographical documentary by Sydney’s Su Goldfish as she searches for her lost family, from Australia to Trinidad and WWII Germany. Rich with archival images, the film echoes through all those touched by forced migration. Goldfish will also engage in audience Q&As after screenings.

The Festival will also screen two films from Melbourne filmmaker Danny Ben-Moshe: My Mother’s Lost Childrenan uplifting documentary following Ben-Moshe’s own family, when two children, stolen from them, reappear after 40 years; and Shalom Bollywood: the Untold Story of Indian Cinemaa fascinating look into the overlooked influence of Jewish women in Bollywood – the first dance, kiss, talkie and colour film. Ben-Moshe will take part in an audience Q&A for both films.

Veteran Jewish actor Elliott Gould (American History X) stars in Humor Me, a hilarious father-son comedy with Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), and romantic drama The History of Love alongside Gemma Arterton (Prince of Persia).

Star-studded docos include: The Pulitzer at 100featuring Helen Mirren (The Queen), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), and Liev Schreiber (X-Men: Origins) about the renowned Pulitzer Prize; and Never be Boring: Billy Wilder, an intimate look at six-time Oscar winner Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot).

Music fans can’t miss: documentaries Body and Soul: An American Bridge, the history of African-Americans and Jews kinship throughout jazz, featuring US jazz icons Johnny Green, and Louis Armstrong; Bang! The Bert Berns Story, about the hugely-influential, often-forgotten songwriter Bert Berns; and musical dramedy Band Aid, starring Saturday Night Live’s Fred Armisen alongside Susie Essman (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy).

Also screening is: The Boy Downstairs starring Zosia Mamet (Girls) and Sarah Ramos (Parenthood); The Last Poker Game, starring Martin Landau (Ed Wood) and Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas); and Monkey Business: the Adventures of Curious George’s Creators, about the extraordinary lives of the creators of the beloved Curious George books.

Showcasing a multitude of real-life stories, the Festival will screen Vitcha provocative look at the charismatic caricature and mime artist Eddie Levkovitch. Israeli director Sigal Bujman and Eddie Vitch’s daughters, Lisa Cortez and Shani De Jesus, will attend the Festival and take part in an audience Q&A.

The doco line-up also includes: Muhi: Generally Temporary, a humanising glimpse into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, following a young boy stuck in immigration limbo; Heaven in Auschwitz, recounting the seemingly impossible – pleasant memories of Auschwitz; and Isabel Gathof’s Moritz Daniel Oppenheim: The First Jewish Painter, about the seminal Jewish artist. Gathof will also be a guest of the Festival.

Also screening is Exit: Music, an intriguing examination of lost Jewish music during the Holocaust from the ARC Ensemble, the Grammy-nominated group dedicated to recovering politically suppressed music, and Etgar Keret: Based on a True Story, an in-depth documentary on the iconic short story writer.

The  program will also highlight some of the hottest contemporary Israeli films including, People That Are Not Mean urban drama exploring Gen Y loneliness, and The Women’s Balconya lively dramedy about a group of women who declare war to repair their synagogue’s broken balcony.

Scaffoldingwinner of Best Israeli Feature Film and Best Actor at the 2017 Jerusalem Film Festival will also screen, as well as the critically acclaimedThe Cakemaker, from first time filmmaker Ofir Raul Graizer is heart-kneading feature about a gay German baker and a weary Israeli widow who grieve for the same man.

Family ties are tested in The Testamentabout a leading Orthodox historian who discovers the shocking truth about his Holocaust survivor mother, and Past Life, an engrossing drama from acclaimed Israeli filmmaker Avi Nesher.

Two TV series will also get their big screen premieres at the Festival. Murder in Polna, a two-part miniseries based on the infamously grisly murder trial of Leopold Hilsnner, accused of murdering a teenage girl and using her blood for Passover bread in 1899; and Russian Jewsa landmark three-part series hosted by veteran Russian journalist Leonid Parfyonov, providing extensive insight into Russian Jew history.

The Festival has lined up a plethora of special events across Sydney and Melbourne, including filmmaker Q&As, pop-ups, in-depth talks, and more.

Sydney highlight events include: Sydney Writers’ Festival Artistic Director Michaela McGuire sharing her favourite Etgar Keret short story before the screening of Etgar Keret: Based on a True Story; So You Think You Can Kugel, JIFF’s inaugural kugel bake-off presented by the Monday Morning Cooking Club; and an intriguing talk by Holocaust researcher Professor Dr. Konrad Kwiet on the frailty of memory, after the screening of The Bloom of Yesterday.

Melbourne audiences can keep the good times rolling with: a hip-swaying live jazz night following Body and Soul: An American Bridge presented with the Jewish Museum of Australia’s Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait exhibition; a special presentation discussing female perspectives in portraying intimacy, sex and sexuality in collaboration with Melbourne Women In Film Festival; and a sumptuous spread of Eastern European treats supplied by After the Tears between sessions of The Russian Jews trilogy.

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