The Mayerson JCC’s Jewish & Israeli Film Festival (February 1-22) returns for the 24th year at various theaters in the Greater Cincinnati area. From a light-hearted exploration on hummus to the trauma of the Holocaust, this year’s festival has 12 can’t-miss films.
“We try to curate films that are interesting to all types of people from all ethnicities,” says festival committee chair Stacey Schimberg of the 16-member film committee. They watched more than 60 submissions, evaluating different criteria like social relevance, appropriateness, quality of film, and translation.
“The films showcase some kind of situation or theme that relates to the Jewish people or Israel or an underlying meaning or event that happened in Jewish history, or [would] be relatable in Jewish life now. Anyone from any ethnicity or any type of the background would enjoy the films.”
The festival coincides with the Mayerson’s Israel at 70 celebration, commemorating 70 years since the inception of Israel. The first week of films are all Israeli, and Israeli scholar-in-residence Galit Roichman will give lectures February 1, 5, 6, and 8 about Israeli cinema and Jewish education. Special events will be held opening and closing nights of the festival at the 20th Century Theater, and yes, there will be hummus.
20th Century Theater
- Hummus! The Movie
(February 1, opening night)
A range of people from the Middle East and different religious backgrounds discuss hummus, its origins, and the power this dish has to bring a diversity of people together.
- Big Sonia
(February 22 closing night)
A poignant documentary about Sonia, a Holocaust survivor, who reflects on her past as a refugee, a witness to genocide, and years spent as a speaker about her experience.
- Ben-Gurion, Epilogue
Lost archival interview footage with Israel’s primary founder, David Ben-Gurion, showcasing his perspective on the Zionist enterprise.
- And Then She Arrived
Based on a true story and set in Israel, this charming rom-com features a serendipitous encounter between a young woman and a man who thought he had everything.
- The 90-Minute War
This mockumentary/dark comedy, based on Itay Meirson’s novel, tries to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict via a soccer game.
Set in the Israeli countryside, a man returns home from years of wandering and must confront his past — and his lost love.
- Home Port
An Israeli drama taking place in Israel about a seaman who returns to land after 30 years to try to fix a broken relationship with his daughter.
A coming-of-age story of a teenage boy who faces parental pressure, is exposed to new possibilities by a professor, and is thrust into making decisions he can’t undo.
- Across the Waters
(February 11 at Mayerson JCC, and February 15 at Kenwood Theatre)
Based on true events, this is a Holocaust story highlighting one family’s relationship with the Denmark resistance, which was instrumental in aiding Jews who fled Germany during the Nazi occupation.
- Bye Bye Germany
Post-World War II, a group of friends open a linen business to leave Germany for good, but a spy subplot catches up with them.
- The Law
Inspired by true events, the story of Simone Bile, a Holocaust survivor and eventual health minister for the French government, where she attempted to legalize abortion there in the 1970s.
- My Hero Brother
The documentary follows a group of able-bodied siblings with Down Syndrome siblings as they go on an arduous trek through the Himalayas, which tests and strengthens those relationships.
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The Jewish & Israeli Film Festival, produced by the Mayerson JCC, will take place February 1-22, 2018. Various local theaters will play this year's 12 featured films.