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Indepth Arts News:

"Tenth Annual New York Jewish Film Festival"
2001-01-14 until 2001-01-24
Jewish Museum
New York, NY, USA United States of America

The Jewish Museum and The Film Society of Lincoln Center will present the tenth annual New York Jewish Film Festival from January 14 to 25, 2001. This collaboration between the Museum and the Film Society will take place at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center, 165 West 65th Street, New York City. Featuring two world, three United States, and twelve New York premieres, the international festival will present thirty-three productions illuminating the rich diversity of the Jewish experience from Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Nepal, The Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Festival attendees wi11 find compelling, provocative, funny, and thoughtful presentations on a wide range of themes, from the commitment to social justice in films like as Scottsboro: An American Tragedy, to a passion for music as seen in The Brian Epstein Story and The Jazzman from the Gulag.

Several directors will be in New York during the festival to introduce their fi1ms, including Pierre Grimblat (Lisa), Paula Levine (Convergence), Peter Forglics (The Maelstrom - A Family Chronicle), Gilles Bourdos (Disparus), and Rod Freedman (Uncle Chatzkel).

Highlights of the festival include three films receiving their New York premieres: French director Pierre Grimblat's gripping drama, Lisa (2000), in which a young French filmmaker, researching a Jewish actor who vanished during World War II, forges a special relationship with the actor's fonner lover (played by Jeanne Moreau) and in the process begins to better understand his own past; Italian directors Andrea Frazzi and Antonio Frazzi ' s The Sky is Falling (2000), the story of two orphaned sisters brought in 1943 to stay with their aunt and uncle (played by Isabella Rossellini and Jeroen Krabbe) as World War II rages and as Nazi soldiers take up residence in their villa; and British director Anthony Wall ' s The Brian Epstein Story ( 1999, video ), offering a fascinating glin1pse at the life of Brian Epstein, first manager of The Beatles, featuring rare early footage of The Beatles and interviews with Paul McCartney and many other contemporaries of Epstein. The festival will also offer four rarely seen archival films: Russian director Noah Sokolovsky's The Life of the Jews in Palestine (silent, 1913), a feature-length documentary of Jewish settlements in Ottoman Palestine that was thought lost forever until its rediscovery in a French film archive in 1997; director Julius Pinschewer's animated short, Hatikvah (1949), illustrating the Jewish journey from the Diaspora to early Israeli statehood; filmmaker Otto Kreisler's drama, The Wandering Jew (aka The Life of Theodor Herzl) (silent, 1921), an early film biography of the founder of modern Zionism; and Swiss director Leopold Lindtberg's The Last Chance (1945), a quasi-underground documentary-style feature about three Allied soldiers reluctantly helping a group of Jewish fugitives to find refuge, and co-winner of the Palm d'Or at the first Cannes Film Festival. The silent film screenings will be accompanied by live piano music perfonned on January 14, 16 and 23 by Curtis Salke, and on January 21 by PeteA Freisinger. The screenings of The Life of the Jews in Palestine and Hatikvah will be introduced by J. Hobennan, Senior Film Critic, The Village Voice, and author of Bridge of Light: Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds (Schocken Books, 1991).

Two American films will receive their world premieres: Close to Home, (2000), a home movie-style film made by Jewish American filmmaker Abby Kjrban and German filmmaker Georg Hartmann, of their trip across Germany, which brings into focus the conflicts that have faced both Gennans and Jews since World War II; and director Paula Levine's experimental video short, Convergence (2000), which offers a distinctive view of the Western Wall in Jerusalem and its visitors.

Three other films will receive their United States premieres: Czech filmmaker Zuzana Justman's docwnentary, A Trial in Prague, an examination of an infamous political show trial in 1952 where fourteen prominent Czechoslovakian Communists, eleven of them Jews, were tried and convicted on false charges of high treason and espionage; Canadian director Michka Saal's drama, The Snail Position (1999), the story of a young Sephardic woman in Montreal who sets out to make a new life for herself while coping with the return of her father after a twenty-year absence; and French director Sabine Franel's First of the Name (1999), a compelling film that follows two genealogy experts on a quest to assemble as many descendants of an 18th century peddler as possible for a family reunion, inspiring the director to trace her personal history and the fate of European Jewry back to the French Revolution.

Dramatic works receiving their New York premieres also include: French filmmaker Gilles Bourdos' Disparus (1998), starring Gregoire Colin (The Dreamlife of Angels), which probes the life and the disappearance of Trotskyite poet Alfred Katz, who arrived in 1930s Paris and had a passionate affair with Mila, artist Man Ray's favorite nude model; and Czech director Karel Kachyna's Hanele (1999), an exploration of the conflict between faith, love and family in which a young woman leaves her small enclave of rigorously observant Jews in sub-Carpathian Ukraine for the big city, falling in love with a freethinking man and facing the prospect of being ostracized by her family and community .

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