Rutgers New Jersey Jewish Film Festival 2006
Presented by: The Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life with support from the Karma Foundation
The following critically acclaimed, international dramatic and documentary films were featured at the 2006 Rutgers New Jersey Jewish Film Festival:
Live and Become
This epic story follows an Ethiopian boy who is airlifted from a Sudanese refugee camp to Israel in 1984 during Operation Moses. Although he thrives as an adopted son of a loving family, he is plagued by two big secrets: he is neither a Jew nor an orphan, just an African boy who struggles to find his place in Israeli society.
The First Time I Was Twenty
A talented oddball teenager is having trouble blending into her loving but ordinary Jewish family in their 1960s Paris suburb. Sixteen-year-old Hannah is smart, funny, and plays a mean upright bass. She dreams of joining her school’s all-male jazz band and is good enough to break the gender barrier. Laced with dark humor, and a fabulous jazz soundtrack, this charming film follows an underdog who struggles to find her place in a rather hostile environment.
Two Israeli car dealers buy a vintage American-made limousine, hoping to get rich quick by selling it in Hamburg. When everything that could possibly go wrong does, the lead characters are faced with unexpected truths about friendship, reconciliation and the ghosts of the Holocaust. This look at German-Jewish relations is carried off against the backdrop of present-day Hamburg.
Fateless is a melancholic meditation on not only what it means to be Jewish, but how an ordinary person deals with seemingly unthinkable circumstances. Based on Nobel Prize winner Imre Kertesz’s novel, the film portrays a Hungarian Jewish boy’s experiences during and after the Nazi occupation of Hungary. Deported to a series of concentration camps, he is never quite sure whether he is the victim of his captors or of an absurd arbitrary destiny. After liberation he returns to Budapest and is deeply affected by the alienation and indifference of his neighbors.
Yiddish Theater: A Love Story
Enter the funny, larger-than-life world of Yiddish theater through this documentary about the amazing woman who has kept the longest-running Yiddish theater in America alive. Zypora Spaisman conquers all hearts in her passion for art, life, and Yiddish. This heartwarming story of one unique woman’s struggle portrays the fight of both an old art form to stay relevant and an old actress to find meaning and a stage in a society that worships youth.
A Cantor's Tale
The tradition of Eastern European Jewish cantorial music is alive and well in modern America thanks to the efforts of Brooklyn-born Cantor Jacob Mendelson. A Cantor's Tale explores the American roots of "hazzanut" (Jewish liturgical music) with a nostalgic journey through family, neighborhood, and tradition. Special appearances by renowned cantors and aficionados Joseph Malovany, Ben-Zion Miller, Alberto Mizrahi, Matthew Lazar, Neil Shicoff, Jackie Mason, and Alan Dershowitz.
KZ looks at emotional repression and confrontation in Austria today in relation to the Nazi atrocities of World War II. This documentary examines the shadow cast on visitors, tour guides, and local residents by Mauthausen, a concentration camp (“KZ” for short) on the banks of the Danube. Old-timers in this idyllic Austrian town are queried about the dark secrets of the past, newcomers are asked about choosing to live there now, and tourists’ reactions to the camp are monitored as tour guides recount the horrors of Mauthausen in minute detail.
...More Than 1000 Words
This documentary follows award-winning photographer Ziv Koren, whose photographs of the Middle East conflict have been published around the world. Shot over a two-year period, the film follows him into the heart of riots, terror attack scenes, secret meetings, and Israel’s pullout from Gaza. This movie also delves into a married man’s struggle with the history of a fierce war in which he is involved on a daily basis, and the place he finds for himself in it.
Keep Not Silent
Ilil Alexander’s debut film boldly documents the clandestine struggle of three women fighting for their right to love within their beloved Orthodox communities in Jerusalem. All three are pious, religiously committed women. All three are lesbians, and members of a secret support group called the "Ortho-Dykes." They are unwilling to compromise themselves and unwilling to give up the wholeness of their sexual orientation, their religious convictions, or the warmth and support of their religious communities, and the consequences of their choice ravage all three lives, daily.
One Day Crossing
On October 15, 1944, in Budapest, Hungary, a woman struggles to survive the brutality of war while protecting her family and hiding their own dark secrets. One Day Crossing chronicles the struggle to maintain identity and extend compassion in times of oppression and horror.
The Man Who Loved Haugesund
Morris Rabinowitz, a Polish clothier, came to the small Norwegian town of Haugesund in 1911. He built a hugely successful clothing business that became the bedrock of Haugesund’s community. Regardless of his efforts and success, he remained an outsider in town. Prior to World War II, Rabinowitz became an outspoken critic of Nazism and topped the Nazi’s most wanted list when Germany invaded Norway in 1940.