LGBT and Jewish, on the big screen
The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, the city’s largest film festival as well as the second most attended festival of its kind in the world, kicks off Jan. 30 with an impressive LGBT track. Tickets are on sale now, and some screenings are already sold out.
The 13th annual festival runs through Feb.20. In all, more than 70 films will be shown over a three week period. Opening night this year will be held at the Cobb Energy Centre with the crowd-pleasing “Hava Nagila (The Movie).”
Subsequent screenings take place all over the city, including the Regal Cinemas Atlantic Station Stadium 16, Lefont Sandy Springs, Georgia Theatre Company Merchants Walk, Regal Cinema’s North Point Market 8 and the United Artists Tara Cinemas 4.
It’s traditional to feature LGBT films as part of the event – and also vital, according to Brad Pilcher, assistant director of the festival.
“The LGBT community in Atlanta is sizable, and the LGBT community is a part of the Jewish community,” Pilcher says. “It is important for us to reach out to our community – the LGBT community, the Muslim community, the black community.”
Although there are no LGBT staffers, the festival has a number of LGBT volunteers, he adds.
Pilcher feels the themes LGBT films raise are important to tackle and discuss.
“What is important for us as a festival is looking at the intersection of Jewish and nonJewish life,” he says. “We intersect with other communities, religion and the world. It’s important to show films that start a dialogue.”
In his sixth year with the festival but first as second in charge, Pilcher feels this year’s LGBT offerings are strong.
Of particular note is the festival’s maiden LGBT double feature of two LGBT documentaries on Feb. 8. “The Invisible Men” examines the plight of three young Palestinian men who have fled to Israel while “Undressing Israel: Gay Men in the Promised Land” is director Michael Lucas’ look at an ironic side of Israel – on one hand, it’s in a region that is very religious, but it’s also known as a place that is accepting of the LGBT community.
Pilcher feels the films perfectly complement each other.
“We are excited to be able to show these two films, especially together,” he says.
Another film Pilcher feels is worth seeing is “Koch.” The documentary deals with former New Atlanta Jewish Film Festival Jan. 30 – Feb. 20 Various area locations www.ajff.org York Mayor Ed Koch and his heated run-ins with various communities, including LGBT people. Koch himself has long been rumored to be gay, although the film doesn’t answer that question.
“Out in the Dark” is the festival’s LGBT narrative feature. It follows the relationship of two young men whose backgrounds could affect their ongoing courtship. Two shorts films with LGBT themes — “The Seder” and “The Devotion Project: Listen From the Heart” — are also in the line-up.
The goal of the AJFF staff each year is never an exact attendance figure, but they are certainly aware that they are within reach of taking over as the biggest Jewish film festival in the world. If and when that happens, they will be ecstatic but the main priority each year is presenting the best event they can and doing the appropriate outreach, Pilcher says.
Various filmmakers will be present for the festival but at press time those weren’t confirmed. A full lineup and schedule can be found at www.ajff.org
Above: Get tickets to the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival early, as some screenings are already sold out. ‘The Devotion Project: Listen from the Heart’ follows a lesbian couple from when they met through the birth of their son, who has a heart condition. (Publicity photo) Below: On Sunday, Feb. 10, the festival screens ‘Joe Papp in Five Acts’ about the openly gay theater legend.