The Alpert Jewish Community Center hosted the 15th annual Long Beach Jewish Film Festival from Wednesday, Nov. 6 to Sunday, Nov. 10.
A total of six films were screened for this year’s Jewish Film Festival.
“We screen over 25 films. There’s a committee of about 25 people. They screen for about four months, so every week we send them a new film and then we have a ranking process where they vote on the quality of the film [and] the content. We’re looking for films that have Jewish content, that are of quality,” Dana Schneider Chanzit, Director of Jewish Life and Culture for the Alpert Jewish Community Center, told the Signal Tribune. “And then they do a voting session where they have to watch all the films, and we have a meeting for three hours, and we vote and pick our top [choices]. This year [there were] six selections.”
The films included in this year’s festival are “Land of Milk and Funny,” “Golda’s Balcony,” “Lady Titi Sings The Blues,” “93 Queen,” and “The Last Suit and Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles.”
Creators involved with two of the films made appearances at the Long Beach Jewish Film Festival.
Avi Liberman, “Land of Milk and Funny” lead actor, attended the screening of his film at the Alpert Jewish Community Center on Nov. 6 and answered audience questions afterward.
Liberman is a Jewish comedian who works to bring American stand up comedians on tour in Israel. The funds from these tours go towards the Koby Mandell Foundation.
The foundation is an Israeli organization that provides support to Israelis who have lost an immediate family member as a result of terrorism. It was founded in 2001 by the parents of 13-year-old Yaakov “Koby” Mandell who was allegedly murdered along with his friend, 14-year-old Yosef Ishran, by terrorists. Multiple international news outlets reported that their bodies were found stabbed and beaten in a cave and the perpetrators were never caught.
The lead producer of “Golda’s Balcony,” David Fishelson, also gave a talk after a screening of the film on Nov. 7.
“Golda’s Balcony” is a one-woman show originally performed on Broadway that follows the life of Golda Meir, Israel’s fourth prime minister, as she goes from being an immigrant schoolteacher to a head of state.
The film “Lady Titi Sings The Blues” was directed by Jewish Ethiopian filmaker Esti Almo Wexler. Her film recognizes the diversity and prejudice that exists within the Jewish-Israeli community.
“Lady Titi Sings The Blues” centers on a chauvinistic Ethiopian Israeli musician named Worko living in Tel Aviv who must return to his hometown to hide from gangsters he owes money too. When the criminals track him down, he must disguise himself as a woman named Titi and gets a job at a community center teaching Ethiopian Israeli women about empowerment.
Although the film is a comedy, it portrays serious issues involving sexism and the Ethiopian-Jewish community in Israel, who are often looked down upon by white Jews in the film.
After being sexually harassed by two different men and robbing both of them as well as witnessing how Ethiopian cleaning ladies are mistreated by their employer, the previously misogynistic Worko begins to empathize with the plight of Ethiopian women.
The film addresses not only external problems facing the Ethiopian Israeli community, but those that exist within the community as well. When visiting the home of one of the women who attend the workshop, Worko is introduced to her domineering and old fashioned Jewish husband and confronts him for keeping his wife confined to the house.
“93 Queen,” “The Last Suit and Fiddler: Miracle of Miracle” were all screened on the final day of the festival Nov. 10.
To see a full list of the films, visit alpertjcc.com/filmfestival/.