Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival to light up screens with great movies

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In a normal year, the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival takes place during Hanukkah in a festive atmosphere of candle-lighting and sufganiyot at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, but this year it will be presented online from November 11-22.As always, it will feature the best of recent movies of Jewish interest — including feature films, documentaries, short films and animated films, from Israel and around the world — and this year, there are a great many. Some of them would be hitting the big screen soon, if theaters were open, but since they are not and don’t look as though they will be for some time, the JJFF will be the only place you can see many of them. There will be a number of online events with moviemakers and actors, including one with Jesse Eisenberg, who portrays legendary French Jewish mime, Marcel Marceau, in the film Resistance, which focuses on how the young performer used his skills and cunning to help fight the Nazis during World War II.Seth Rogen upset a lot of Israelis with his recent disparaging remarks about the country on a podcast, but nevertheless, his HBO Max film, American Pickle, an intergenerational comedy in which the actor plays a slacker and his great grandfather, will be the opening night movie.The Schoumann Award for Jewish documentaries and feature films will be given to films in the festival, with a cash prize of $3,000.Among the feature films this year will be Emma Seligman’s Shiva Baby, a black comedy about a young Jewish woman who gets in hot water when she attends a shiva where she meets past and present people from her life.Lydia Dean Pilcher’s A Call to Spy reveals the extraordinary story of three female agents recruited as spies by Winston Churchill’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) for Britain in occupied France during the first days of World War II.In the Israeli Cinema section, Anat Tel’s The Church looks into the inner workings of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

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In the Documentary section, director Jonathan Durand will take part in a conversation about his film, Memory is Our Homeland, about more than 18,000 Polish women and children who lived throughout Africa as World War II refugees.The Great Jewish Minds section, always one of the highlights of the festival, focuses on figures in the arts, sciences and the judiciary. Freida Lee Mock’s Ruth: Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words, is a portrait of the late, much loved Supreme Court Justice who was a trailblazer in the fight for gender equality. Julia Newman’s Albert Einstein: Still a Revolutionary uses rarely seen archival footage, correspondence and interviews to tell the life story of one of the most brilliant scientists in history. Exhibition on Screen: Lucian Freud — A Self Portrait examines the life of the iconoclastic painter through following an exhibit of his self portraits. Freud is the grandson of pioneering psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and the father of novelist Esther Freud and fashion designer Bella Freud. Valeria Parisi’s Maverick Modigliani looks at the painter’s works on display all over the world.The classics section will include Mir Kumen On (Children Must Laugh), a recently restored 1938 movie about a sanatorium near Warsaw that provided care for 10,000 Jewish children between 1926-1939. There will also be a special program to mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Vilna Gaon.The Israeli film, Sh’Chur (1994), directed by Shmuel Hasfari, about a teenager who wants to fit in and is embarrassed by her traditional, superstitious Mizrahi family, has been digitally restored by the Israel Film Archive and the Jerusalem Cinematheque and will be presented at the festival. It was written by and stars Hanna Azoulay Hasfari, and she will take part in an online event.The program is online at the Jerusalem Cinematheque website at

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