Jewish Film Festival features works of compassion and understanding
A diverse collection of dramas and documentaries from around the world, all of them threaded with the commonalities of Jewish culture, unite the films selected for the Jewish Community Center’s 21st annual Milwaukee Jewish Film Festival.
The festival, which runs Oct. 7–11, has become a big event for the center, says Micki Seinfeld, the JCC project manager who has headed the festival for its entire run.
“Normally, we run eight films at the end of October, but this year we eliminated one film and moved the festival up to accommodate other events and programs going on in Milwaukee’s Jewish community,” Seinfeld says. “This has become the fastest-growing program, not only for us, but for JCCs across the country.”
Seinfeld and a group of volunteers screened some 30 films before selecting the seven they feel will resonate best with Milwaukee audiences.
The group, she says, is especially interested in films that are intriguing, educational and designed to elicit emotional responses. Each film will be introduced by a host, who also will lead a discussion after the screening.
Does Seinfeld have a favorite among this year’s films?
“Oy, that’s like trying to pick a (favorite) child,” she responds. “I have to think it’s our opening film, The Samuel Project, which really shows how communications, compassion and understanding can heal past wounds and help someone to become a better person.”
But Seinfeld believes all the selections meet the festival’s goals.
“We want people to be entertained, to be moved and to better understand what makes up the Jewish experience,” she says.
THE FILMS, AT A GLANCE
The Samuel Project,
When high school senior Eli decides to make his grandfather Samuel the subject of a school project, he learns of the old Jewish dry cleaner’s past as a Holocaust survivor. The effort leads to increased communication, understanding, compassion and healing. Oct. 7, 7:30 p.m.
In the early days of Indian cinema, Hindu and Islamic women were forbidden to appear on screen. So, female roles fell to women from the country’s 2,000-year-old Jewish community. This cheeky documentary looks at five of the best performers. Oct. 8, 1:30 p.m.
Holocaust researcher Yoel, in the midst of a battle to stop an industrialist from building a real estate project on the site of a Jewish massacre during WWII, discovers classified testimony by his mother, a survivor who never told him about the event. Trapped between walls of silence and denial, the researcher perseveres with an investigation that places him at risk personally and professionally. Oct. 8, 7:30 p.m.
An Act of Defiance,
In this historical political thriller, lawyer Bram Fischer risks his career and personal freedom to assist a group of black and Jewish conspirators, including Nelson Mandela, facing possible death sentences for conspiracy to commit sabotage in 1963 South Africa. Oct. 9, 7:30 p.m.
A charming and entrancing profile of violinist Itzhak Perlman and his struggles to overcome personal adversity and become one of the world’s greatest virtuosos. Oct. 10, 5:30 p.m.
Heading Home: A Tale of Team Israel,
The stirring story of Israel’s underdog national baseball team and its journey to the World Baseball Classic in Seoul. Oct. 10, 7:45 p.m.
This neo-noir film, suspenseful and elegant, examines the relationship between a female Israeli Mossad agent sent to Germany to protect a Lebanese informant as she recovers from plastic surgery as part of assuming a new identity. Oct. 11, 1:30 p.m.
A scene from
Itzhak Perlman is featured in