Presented by: The Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life with support from the Karma Foundation.

2016 Patrons and Sponsors

2016 Audience Choice Award Winners

The following critically acclaimed, international dramatic and documentary films were featured at the 2016 Rutgers Jewish Film Festival:


  New Jersey Premiere
  (Israel, 2016, 97 minutes)
  Hebrew with English subtitles /Director: Asaph Polonsky

When shiva for their son ends and his wife tries to return to her routine, a grieving father sets out on a journey of discovery. He gets high with his neighbor’s son while searching for the meaning of life in this humorous film about love and loss.


  New Jersey Premiere
  (USA, 2016, 76 minutes)
  English and German with English subtitles /Director: Janina Quint

This documentary examines the history of Germany’s postwar Jewish population and the fraught and fragile relationships between Jews and non-Jews. Middle-aged Germans who grew up largely ignorant of the Hitler era discuss key moments that awakened them to the nightmare of Germany’s past and of the culpability of family members. Told entirely through interviews at a dinner party attended by Germans and Jews, the film negotiates sensitive questions of memory, guilt, identity and redemption.


  (Israel and USA, 2015, 98 minutes)
  Hebrew with English subtitles
  Director: Natalie Portman

Based on Amos Oz’s international best-seller, and starring Natalie Portman, in her directorial debut, A Tale of Love and Darkness recounts the time Oz spent with his mother, Fania (Natalie Portman), in Jerusalem at the end of the British Mandate for Palestine and the early years of the State of Israel. Dealing with a married life of unfulfilled promises and integration in a foreign land, Fania battles her inner demons and longs for a better world for her son.

women in sink 1  WOMEN IN SINK

  (Israel, 2015, 36 minutes)
  Hebrew with English subtitles
  Director: Iris Zaki

In a hair salon owned by a Christian-Arab in Haifa, the director installs a camera over the washbasin where she chats with the diverse clients she is shampooing. The film captures unexpected frankness of Arab and Jewish women who share their differences and a community of views on politics, history and love.

partner with the enemy  PARTNER WITH THE ENEMY

  (Israel, 2014, 60 minutes)
  Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles
  Director: Duki Dror and Chen Shelach

In the midst of the ever-fraught Israeli-Palestinian political landscape, two women, one Israeli and one Palestinian, attempt the seemingly impossible: to build a business together. Fighting against societal and family pressure, anti-normalization currents and a chauvinistic, male-dominated industry, the two combine forces to create a logistics company which helps Palestinian businessmen navigate the everyday life in the West Bank.


  (France, 2014, 106 minutes)
  French with English subtitles
  Director: Jean-Jacques Zilbermann

Fifteen years after surviving Auschwitz, Helene, Lili and Rose are reunited on holiday in the North of France. Savoring ice cream cones, trying on bikinis, swimming in the sea, the women resume their friendship, with occasional disagreements about what they remember. Despite high spirits, a romantic adventure for Hélène and Rose’s insistence that they not talk about the camps, remnants of the war seep into everyday life. Based on the true story of the director’s mother, these women — their marriages, affairs and challenges to define themselves — form the heart of À La Vie.


  (Israel and Canada, 2016, 118 minutes)
  French and Hebrew with English Subtitles / Director: Shemi Zarhin

This quirky and wry dramedy follows three siblings—Dorona and brothers Netanel and Shai—who, in the wake of their mother’s death, learn that the man who raised them is not their biological father. The revelation sends them on a road trip from Israel across France to discover the truth about their real father. Writer-director Shemi Zarhin explores an unraveling family secret and the bittersweet journey of self-discovery that follows.

cloudysunday  CLOUDY SUNDAY

  New Jersey Premiere
  (Greece, 2015, 116 minutes)
  Greek with Ladino and English subtitles
  Director: Manoussos Manoussakis  

Set in the Greek city of Thessaloniki during the German occupation in 1942, the film tells the story of a forbidden love between Estrea, a young Jewish girl, and Giorgos, brother-in-law of the great Greek composer and famed bouzouki player Vassilis Tsitsanis. Central to the film is traditional and newly composed Greek music as well as its spectacular cinematography. The film is based on the book Ouzeri Tsitsanis by George Skarbadonis.


  (Israel, 2015, 98 minutes)
  English, Hebrew, Arabic, and French with English subtitles
  Director: Rani Saar

On the eighth of May 1972, four hijackers from the Palestinian organization “Black September” took control of Belgian Sabena Flight 571 from Brussels to Tel Aviv. The film presents a cinematic reenactment of the events, weaved together with genuine archival material and exclusive interviews with three revered Israeli political leaders who were in charge of the rescue effort at the time, as well as the only surviving hijacker.


  (Germany, 2015, 105 minutes)
  German, English, Yiddish with English subtitles
  Director: Lars Kraume

In 1957, German Attorney General Fritz Bauer receives crucial evidence on the whereabouts of Adolf Eichmann. The lieutenant colonel, responsible for the mass deportation of the Jews, is allegedly hiding in Buenos Aires. Facing fierce German determination to repress its past, Bauer has had no success trying crimes from the Third Reich in court.  His distrust in the German justice system, leads him to contact the Israeli secret service Mossad, and, by doing so, he commits treason.


  (USA, 2016, 97 minutes)
  Director: Roger M. Sherman

James Beard award-winning chef Michael Solomonov, takes us on a journey to Israel through food. He enters peoples’ lives and their kitchens as they discuss their roots, inspirations, what their grandmothers cooked, and how they are preserving traditions and updating recipes with global influences. The beautiful cinematography and rich human stories draw a complex portrait of Israel and the many cultures who call it home.

Eva Hesse  EVA HESSE

  (USA and Germany, 2016, 108 minutes)
  Director: Marcie Begleiter

The film portrays the extraordinary brief life of artist Eva Hesse: from escaping Germany at age two on the Kindertransport, to her groundbreaking sculptures and rise in the New York art scene in the 1960s, to her death at a young age. Today she is recognized as one of the most important artists of the second half of the 20th century. Her work is held by major museums including the Whitney, MoMA, the Hirschhorn, and the Pompidou in Paris.

Fire Birds  FIRE BIRDS

  (Israel, 2015, 105 minutes)
  Hebrew with English subtitles
  Director: Amir I Wolf

Three widows and a handsome stranger cross paths in this Israeli murder mystery. An eighty-year-old man's body is found with three stab wounds to the chest and a number tattooed along his forearm. Amnon, a police detective and second generation Holocaust survivor, is reluctantly assigned to the case. As the plot weaves between the past and present, their stories unfold.


  New Jersey Premiere
  (Israel and U.K., 2016, 84 minutes)
  English and Hebrew with English subtitles
  Directors: Barak Heymann and Tomer Heymann

Saar is an HIV positive gay man living in London, where he found refuge from the religious kibbutz where he grew up in Israel. Ever since he was diagnosed with HIV, Saar has craved his family’s love, while they struggle with fears and prejudices.


  (USA, 2016, 91 minutes)
  Director: Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady

Arguably the most influential creator, writer, and producer in the history of television, Norman Lear brought primetime into step with the times. Using comedy and indelible characters, his legendary 1970s shows such as All in the Family, Maude, Good Times, and The Jeffersons boldly cracked open dialogue and shifted the national consciousness, injecting enlightened humanism into sociopolitical debates on race, class, creed, and feminism. This film is the definitive chronicle of Mr. Lear’s life, work, and achievements.


  (USA and United Kingdom, 2016, 110 minutes)
  English, Hebrew and German with English subtitles
  Director: Mick Jackson


This drama depicts Emory professor Deborah Lipstadt’s historic legal trial against Holocaust denial. Starring Rachel Weisz, the film is an absorbing account of a woman’s fight for the truth. Based on Lipstadt’s book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier.


  (Israel, 2016, 78 minutes)
  English and Hebrew with English subtitles
  Director: Dani Menkin

This documentary recounts the story of the 1977 Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team’s victory in the European cup which put Israel firmly on the map. Featuring interviews with the Jewish American athletes who made history, On the Map combines the action of a high-stakes game with an incendiary political situation at the height of the Cold War to deliver a film that honors Israeli heroes, captivates basketball fans, and captures the spirit of a triumphant nation.

womensbalcony 01  THE WOMEN'S BALCONY

  (Israel, 2016, 96 minutes)
  Hebrew with English subtitles
  Director: Emil Ben Shimon

An accident during a bar mitzvah celebration leads to a gendered rift in a devout Orthodox community in Jerusalem, in this rousing, good-hearted tale about women speaking truth to patriarchal power. The day of Osher's bar mitzvah begins auspiciously, with happy guests in their Sabbath best making their way through Jerusalem's streets. They congregate in the synagogue, and the men look up adoringly at the women's balcony where their wives, daughters, sisters, cousins, and grandmothers are gathered. Then disaster strikes: the floor under the balcony gives way, leaving several people injured. Most everyone regards the collapse as the tragic result of a structural flaw. No one stops to wonder if it might have been a message from God. Until Rabbi David comes along.