Robinson.jpgGene Hoffman Intern, Rutgers Jewish Film Festival (Fall 2019)

The value of entertainment cannot be understated in these unprecedented times. Film, in particular, allows us to reflect and to aspire to dreams of a better self and a better society. I am so thankful for the Rutgers Jewish Film Festival, because it provides a space and a community that encourages growth. A year ago, I began my internship at RUJFF with the hope that I would watch a few good movies. The experience far exceeded my expectations: I watched the best in contemporary Jewish cinema, I connected with my colleagues, and I learned from a variety of unique perspectives.

One of my more meaningful encounters was with an invited filmmaker, Barnabás Tóth. He traveled all the way from Budapest, Hungary, to participate in the festival with his film Those Who Remained. Coincidentally, my mother was born and raised just outside of Budapest. When Barnabás’ short film My Guide (2012) went viral in Hungary, my mom showed it to me with tear-stained cheeks. The film resonated with her because the amusingly unconventional and idiosyncratic wife character reminded her of her mother. It’s a testament to his skill that the film helped her to process her grief alongside the protagonist. I felt honored that Dr. Sinkoff invited me to dine with him and other lovely patrons before a screening. He generously offered insight to his background and his process, which helped me to better understand my own path as a young filmmaker navigating the industry.

Although this interaction was quite exceptional, I would be remiss to overlook the “smaller” moments that made a lasting impression. It felt like a rite of passage when the first distributor barked at me through the phone. After some failed attempts, I learned how to use a fax machine. I had the pleasure of getting to know many of our attendees during the screenings and special events; a couple precious grandmothers even offered to set me up with their grandsons. The other interns made me laugh so much I could hardly breathe, especially in response to Anya’s antics. We had fun, but we also worked hard. On a daily basis, Karen’s problem solving inspired me, Sarah’s gumption emboldened me, and Jenny’s patience humbled me. I consider myself so lucky to have had access to such an impressive slate of films – including my festival favorite, The Museum by Ran Tal – that would not have reached me otherwise. Seeing the audience’s reception to the program made all of our hard work worth it.

My participation in the 20th anniversary of RUJFF was a highlight of my senior year. This year’s festival will be highly unusual as a result of the pandemic, but the spirit will remain unchanged. As we face our present realities, it is more important that ever to have an environment which amplifies voices that often go unheard. I hope you will join me in the audience, and I look forward to assembling in-person at the East Brunswick AMC with you all again in the future.

Thank you to Karen, Sarah, and Jenny for trusting me in this role, and thank you to Gene R. Hoffman for making the internship possible.

~ Anna Robinson, Rutgers Filmmaking Center, Mason Gross School of the Arts '20