Rutgers New Jersey Jewish Film Festival 2007
The following critically acclaimed, international dramatic and documentary films were featured at the 2007 Rutgers New Jersey Jewish Film Festival:
Israel, 2006, 35mm, 106 min.
Hebrew, French, Arabic with English subtitles
Director: Dina Zvi-Riklis
Three Mothers, an intricate family saga about triplets who fled from Alexandria, Egypt to Israel in 1958, is a tale of powerful love and deadly deceit that is played out in three languages and across three generations. Loosely based on the director's family, the film stars Gila Almagor and Rivka Raz.
The First Basket
USA, 2007, DVD, 86 min. in English
Director: David Vyorst
The First Basket traces the little-known Jewish history of basketball and its spread to turn-of-the-century New York settlement houses via the YMCA circuit. Full of vivid anecdotes and distinctive characters—including Ossie Shechtman's first basket for the New York Knickerbockers—the film follows the evolution of basketball from inner-city neighborhoods to Madison Square Garden.
The Rape of Europa
USA, 2006, 35mm, 117 min. in English
Directors: Richard Berge, Bonni Cohen, and Nicole Newnham
Following the Nazis' systematic looting and destruction of art on a scale unprecedented in history, this film travels across seven countries and traces the fate of major works of art in museums and private collections. The film weaves in historical footage with contemporary stories of restitution and return of some of the displaced art.
Just An Ordinary Jew
Germany, 2005, DVD, 90 min. German with English subtitles
Director: Oliver Hirshbiegel
This fascinating film focuses on a moment of reckoning for Emanuel Goldfarb (Ben Becker), a German-Jewish journalist who is invited to speak about being a Jew to a group of German schoolchildren. His letter of refusal develops into an intriguing soliloquy that confronts Germany's dark past and the complexities of German-Jewish identity.
51 Birch Street
USA, 2005, DVD, 88 min. in English
Director: Doug Block
Both unexpectedly funny and heartbreaking, 51 Birch Street spans sixty years and three generations, weaving together hundreds of snapshots, home movies, and two decades of verité footage. What begins as an intimate, autobiographical story about director Doug Block's family soon evolves into a broader meditation on the universal themes of love, marriage, fidelity, and the mystery of family.
The Year My Parents Went on Vacation
Brazil, 2006, 35mm, 104 min. Portuguese with English subtitles
Director: Cao Hamburger
This dramatic coming of age tale features twelve-year-old Mauro who is caught between political upheavals in Brazil and the excitement that surrounds Brazil’s competition in the World Cup in summer 1970. Left at the doorstep of his Jewish grandfather when his parents flee, the boy is thrust into the unfamiliar world of Sao Paolo's Jewish community. The film follows the relationships that develop between Mauro and the community while also portraying life under political dictatorship.
Switzerland, 2005, DVD, 70 min. Swiss-German with English subtitles
Director: Gabrielle Antosiewicz
A light-hearted documentary about the trials and tribulations of finding a Jewish match in Switzerland. Filmmaker Gabrielle Antosiewicz gets to know her most promising suitors by inviting them over to bake challah. While the dough is rising, viewers meet three families who provide insights into Judaism and romance, from Orthodox matchmakers to Internet dating.
West Bank Story
USA, 2005, DVD, 22 min. in English
Director: Ari Sandel
This short musical comedy tells the story of David, an Israeli soldier, and Fatima, a Palestinian fast food cashier—an unlikely couple who fall in love amidst the animosity of their families’ falafel stands in the West Bank.
Out of Faith
USA, 2005, DVD, 22 min. in English
Director: Ari Sandel
This documentary film follows three generations of a family torn apart by conflicts over interfaith marriage. The family's matriarch, Leah Welbel, and her husband Eliezer, both survivors of Auschwitz, consider their grandchildren's marriage to non-Jews a form of victory for Hitler. Tensions within the family grow leading to an unexpected ending.
My Father My Lord
Israel, 2006, 35mm, 72 min. Hebrew with English subtitles
Director: David Volach
My Father My Lord presents an intimate portrait of an ultra-orthodox family and the tension between strict adherence to religious beliefs and the welfare of the family. This powerful film evokes the story of the binding of Isaac (the Akedah). It explores the tenacity of faith in the face of tragedy.
Roots: Families for Sale
Russia, 2005, 35mm, 107 min. Russian and Yiddish with English subtitles
Director: Pavel Lungin
Roots: Families for Sale is a black comedy about Jews who seek their long lost family members from a poor Ukranian town. A con-artist convinces the townsfolk to pass themselves off as the relatives and as the scheme unravels hilarity ensues. Lungin’s film is a parody on the recent trend of Jewish tourism to Europe in search of roots. (This film contains adult content.)
Israel/USA, 2006, 35mm, 89 min.
Hebrew, Arabic, and English with English subtitles
Directors: Ronit Avni and Julia Bacha
This documentary follows the grassroots efforts of both Israelis and Palestinians who lost family members to violence, yet risk their lives and public standing to promote a nonviolent resolution to the conflict. These activists struggle to overcome military and societal obstacles and advocate dialogue to work toward peace.
Israel, 2007, 35mm, 120 min. Hebrew with English subtitles
Director: Joseph Cedar
Based on the story of Liraz Liberti, the 22-year-old commander of the Beaufort outpost, and his troops during the final weeks before Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. Beaufort relays the experience of these young soldiers who must find a way to carry out their mission until the very last moments on that mountaintop. Ultimately, the film raises questions about the meaning of war in society.