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 2002 Rutgers New Jersey Jewish Film Festival:
An adaptation of Arthur Miller's first controversial novel, FOCUS explores anti-Semitism, demagogy and extreme social paranoia in a Brooklyn neighborhood toward the end of World War II. William H. Macy stars as Lawrence Newman, an ordinary man who does not want to stand out in a dangerous world. Soon, however, the unassuming Newman and his outspoken new wife (Laura Dern) become caught up in a case of mistaken identity. Suddenly, the unwitting focus of his neighbors' prejudice, Newman is faced with a choice: to go down as a coward or become the unlikeliest of heroes - and tell the truth.
Shot after the Oslo Accords and before the most recent intifada (Palestinian uprising), PROMISES explores the Middle East conflict through the eyes of seven Israeli and Palestinian children, ages 9 - 13, living in Jerusalem. The intimate stories of these children, ages 9 to 13, reveal what it is like to grow up in times of conflict in the Middle East. Though they live only 20 minutes apart, the children exist in separate worlds, with many obstacles between them. PROMISES tells the story of a few children who dared to cross the lines to meet their neighbors.
In this documentary, Lanzmann defies two clichés: that the Jews had no inkling of what awaited them in the gas chambers, and that they went to their deaths without resistance. "Sobibor, October 14, 1943, 4 PM" refers to the place and time when Jewish prisoners in the Sobibor extermination camp staged a successful uprising against the Nazi captors. The story is told by Yehuda Lerner, who took part in the revolt as a youth. Sobibor was mentioned in SHOAH, but Lanzmann felt that Lerner's extraordinary account deserved a film of its own.
Set within the Georgian émigré community of Tel Aviv, LATE MARRIAGE is a sexy and biting comedy of manners that investigates what happens when one must choose between pursuing true love and adhering to family tradition. Lily and Yasha are distraught that their 31-year-old son Zaza has not yet married, and drag him to meet one "suitable" girl after another. Zaza must make a decision that will alter all of their lives.
LEO AND CLAIRE
Director Joseph Vilsmaier (THE HARMONISTS) delivers a compelling drama based on the true story of Leo Katzenberger, a leader of Nuremberg's Jewish community, put to death in 1942 for an alleged affair with a young Christian woman. LEO AND CLAIRE depicts Germany's rising anti-Semitism and acute class tensions, as Leo is ultimately brought to trial and executed by the Nazis under the Nuremberg Laws.
This powerful animated film captures the surreal world of a child Holocaust survivor whose pain has not been recognized or shared. It took fifty years for Tana to break the silence.
Anna, a 50-year-old photojournalist, travels to the Greek island of her childhood after her mother's death to claim her inheritance, her ancestral home. When Anna finds an old family trunk, she welcomes the spirits of her Sephardic-Jewish ancestors, and memories, ghosts and secrets from her family's history start to emerge. Through dreamlike encounters, Anna confronts a family history marked by exile and deportation, escape from the Nazis, and forbidden love. Meerapfel weaves memories of the past with the vivid sights and sounds of the present day Mediterranean.