This morning the Miami Jewish Film Festival announced its line-up of 30 premiere films to the Miami area under a brand new director, Igor Shteyrenberg. He brings experience from working at the Miami International Film Festival and quite the energy of youth. I was expecting a dynamic program from this young festival director, and from the looks of the line-up (see below), it shall be.
Full disclosure: I spent several years working in the programming departments of both the MJFF and MIFF, and Shteyrenberg has invited me to host the screening of Pawel Pawlikowski’s major award-winning drama Ida. Its title refers to a young woman in early 1960s Poland who is about to take her vows as a nun only to learn of her Jewish roots. He says it’s bound to be controversial and could not think of a better person to introduce the film and discuss it after its screening. I am flattered… I think.
Another noteworthy film premiering at the MJFF includes the Israeli box office hit, Hunting Elephants, starring Patrick Stewart. The festival will also present a 30th anniversary screening of Woody Allen’s Broadway Danny Rose hosted by filmmaker and Indie Ethos favorite Whit Stillman (read my interview with him here). Another retro presentation included in the mix is a 75th anniversary screening of the restored 1938 musical comedy Mamele featuring Yiddish stage and screen legend Molly Picon. A choir will perform songs from the film at the screening.
Having worked at the festival as a non-Jew, I speak from experience that Jewish cinema is far more than religious film. The Jewish existence has so many dimensions from Israeli cinema to a popular brand of humor that transcends religious affiliation. I recall the festival once hosted a documentary on avant-garde film pioneer Maya Deren who was born Jewish but later became a voodoo priestess in Haiti. The festival also introduced me to the patient, powerful and contemplative work of Israeli director Amos Gitai. Looking at the screenings below, it’s also nice to see a regular I knew from the MJFF, the very talented Argentinian director Daniel Burman.
“We are proud to share these films with our community, whose stories open the eyes and ignite our hearts,” said Shteyrenberg in a statement. “In this revitalizing year for MJFF, we hope to continue to grow and inspire new audiences through the power of film to effect change in attitude opinion, and cultural understanding.”
The Opening Night film is When Comedy Went to School, a documentary examining the distinct style of Jewish comedians like Jerry Lewis, Woody Allen, Jerry Seinfeld and many others.
The festival runs from Jan. 23 through Feb.3.
World Premiere Feature
- Felix Tikotin: A Life Devoted to Japanese Art (Netherlands-Japan-Israel-France, directed by Santie Kramer)
3 North American Premiere Features
- Bureau 06 (Lishka 06) (Israel, directed by Yoav Halevy)
- Here We Are (Estamos aqui) (Brazil-US, directed by Cintia Chamecki)
- Our Big Time (Blutsbrüder teilen alles) (Austria-Germany-Romania, directed by Wolfram Paulus)
11 Florida Premiere Features
- Bethlehem (Israel-Germany-Belgium, directed by Yuval Adler)
- Closed Season (Ende der Schonzeit) (Germany-Israel, directed by Franziska Schlotterer)
- The German Doctor (Argentina-France-Spain, directed by Lucia Puenzo)
- Hunting Elephants (Israel-US, directed by Reshef Levi)
- Ida (Poland-Denmark, directed by Pawel Pawlikowski)
- Igor & The Cranes’ Journey (Israel-Germany-Poland, directed by Evgeny Ruman)
- Mamele (Poland, directed by Joseph Green & Konrad Tom)
- My First Wedding (Mi primera boda) (Argentina, directed by Ariel Winograd)
- Rue Mandar (France, directed by Idit Cebula)
- When Day Breaks (Kad svane dan) (Serbia-France-Croatia, directed by Goran Paskaljevic)
- When Jews Were Funny (Canada, directed by Alan Zweig)
3 South Florida Premiere Features
- The Last Sentence (Dom över död man) (Sweden-Norway, directed by Jan Troell
- Putzel (US, directed by Jason Chaet)
- When Comedy Went to School (US, directed by Lawrence Richards)
4 Miami Premiere Features
- Aftermath (Poklosie) (Poland-Russia-Netherlands, directed by Wladyslaw Pasikowski)
- All In (La suerte en tus manos)(Argentina-Spain, directed by Daniel Burman)
- Let’s Dance! (Israel, directed by Gabriel Bibliowicz)
- The Zigzag Kid (Nono, het Zigzag Kind) (Netherlands-Belgium-UK-Spain-France, directed by Vincent Bal)
2 From the Vault Features
- An American Tail (US, directed by Don Bluth)
- Broadway Danny Rose (US, directed by Woody Allen)
6 Short Films
- Audition (Netherlands, directed by Udo Prinsen)
- I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors (Canada, directed by Ann Marie Fleming)
- Nyosha (Israel, directed by Yael Dekel & Liran Kapel)
- Paddle-Ball (Israel, directed by Avi Belkin)
- Seven Minutes in the Warsaw Ghetto (Denmark, directed by Johan Oettinger)
- Woody Before Allen (US, directed by Masha Vasyukova)
Here’s the recently released festival trailer:
For tickets and screening details visit this link.