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 2003 Rutgers New Jersey Jewish Film Festival:
In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, Edmond, a Parisian butcher, inadvertently takes part in the deportation of his Jewish neighbor's family. When the neighbor's son, Simon, shows up on what used to be his doorstep, he finds that Edmond and his family are now living there. Feeling guilty and seeking to avoid trouble with the German authorities, Edmond reluctantly agrees to hide the boy. As the situation becomes increasingly difficult, Edmond finds himself growing increasingly attached to him. Will this ordinary man find extraordinary courage to do the right thing?
A popular song of the 1930s, "Gloomy Sunday" had a notorious reputation for causing people to commit suicide. Now, it is the inspiration for this unusual and remarkable love story. Based on Nick Barkow's book of the same title, GLOOMY SUNDAY flashes back from the 1990s to Budapest in the early 1930s, where a love triangle develops. Lászlò (Joachim Król) is a successful Jewish restaurant owner in love with his beautiful assistant Ilona. She, in turn, loves him as well as the pianist András, who composes "Gloomy Sunday" for her. Their situation becomes fraught with danger when a German patron of their restaurant, also in love with Ilona, returns to Budapest as a Nazi officer.
STRANGE FRUIT explores the history and legacy of one of the most important American protest songs ever written. Best known by a 1939 Billie Holiday rendition, the song "Strange Fruit" gives a bitter and harrowing description of a lynching. While many people mistakenly assume that "Strange Fruit" was written by Holiday herself, the words and music were actually written by Abel Meeropol, a Jewish school teacher and union activist from the Bronx. STRANGE FRUIT reflects on the lives of African-Americans, immigrant Jews, anticommunist government officials, radical Leftist organizers, music publishers, and jazz musicians. It is also a telling anecdote in the history of Black-Jewish relations.
Cutting-edge, award-winning filmmaker Alan Berliner takes on his reclusive father as the reluctant subject of this poignant and graceful study of family history and memory. What emerges is a uniquely cinematic biography that finds both humor and pathos in the swirl of conflicts and affections that bind father and son. Ultimately this complex portrait is a meeting of the minds - where the past meets the present, where generations collide, and where the boundaries of family life are pushed, pulled, stretched, torn and surprisingly at times, also healed. Since its premiere at the New York Film Festival in 1996, the film has won twelve international awards and prizes.
The Sweetest Sound
With the intimacy and humor of a personal essay, director Alan Berliner dives headfirst inside the American name pool in search of the treasures and dangers hidden inside his own name. A film that starts out in search of identity slowly transforms into a meditation on mortality. In the end Berliner leaves us with a greater sense of the power and magic embedded in a name, and how all of our identities are inescapably shaped by what we call ourselves. A film guaranteed to make you think twice about the who, the why and the where contained in every name, THE SWEETEST SOUND has Berliner's inimitable filmmaking signature written all over it.
Adapted from Leon Uris' best-selling novel, this classic Hollywood epic chronicles the rebirth of a people and a nation. Set in 1947 Palestine, the film shows the desperate attempts by émigrés to reach the Promised Land, and the efforts of the Israeli underground to defeat British and Arab opponents in its struggle to create the state of Israel. EXODUS stars Paul Newman, Eva-Marie Saint, and Sal Mineo, and was shot on location in Galilee, Haifa, Jerusalem, and other parts of Israel.
This rich documentary explores the dangerous voyage of the Exodus 1947, the ship that tried to bring Holocaust survivors to Palestine in 1947. Through archival footage and interviews with the surviving American crew members and passengers, EXODUS 1947 reveals the idealists, cynics, and heroes that made this perilous journey, bringing to life this momentous event in Zionist history.
Nowhere in Africa
A love story spanning two continents, NOWHERE IN AFRICA is the extraordinary true tale of a Jewish family that flees the Nazi regime in 1938 for a remote farm in Kenya. Abandoning their once-comfortable existence in Germany, Walter Redlich, his wife Jettel (Juliane Köhler of AIMEE AND JAGUAR), and their five-year-old daughter Regina deal with the harsh realities of their new life in different ways. As war rages on the other side of the world, the family's relationships to their new environment become increasingly complicated. The film is based on the novel by Stefanie Zweig. See www.nowhereinafrica.com
A Trumpet in the Wadi
Based on the novel by Sami Michael, A TRUMPET IN THE WADI is a sensitive love story between two outsiders in Israeli society. Huda, a Christian Arab woman from Haifa, is drawn to her upstairs neighbor Alex, a new Jewish immigrant from Russia. The story is told from the point of view of Huda's family.