Check out the films @ the 26th STL Jewish Film Fest, playing virtually Jun 6-13

26th Annual St. Louis Jewish Film Festival Begins June 6
Travel the World Through Film

The 26th Annual St. Louis Jewish Film Festival will be held virtually this summer, from June 6 through June 13. The Festival will present a selection of 13 documentary and feature films from around the world. While all films depict a piece of the Jewish experience, the themes are universal and meant to be appealing to all, regardless of faith.

Breaking Bread, Beth Hawk’s award-winning documentary about Jews & Arabs cooking together is the perfect recipe to satiate hungry film audiences.

Thought-provoking, and sometimes disturbing, Antisemitism delves deeply into the insidious origins of antisemitism in France from the Middle Ages to the 1894 Dreyfus Affair to the present day. 

Ma’aborat reveals the discrimination and harsh conditions which awaited Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa when they came to Israel in the 1950s. 

More than just a sports film, Aulcie candidly tells the story of the rise and downfall of one of Israel’s greatest sports legends. 

Two documentaries, Love It Was Not and The Good Nazi, present somewhat different views of the typical Nazi officer. 

Lighter films that entertain include Kiss Me Kosher and Howie Mandel: But Enough About Me.  

In addition to these compelling films, the Festival offers discussions with filmmakers and others associated with the films. A complete list of films and discussions, go to www.stljewishfilmfestival.org.

Films will be available for viewing throughout the festival and screened virtually through the film platform, Eventive.  An all-access Festival pass can be purchased for $95. Individual films are $14 each. View the complete Film Festival schedule and buy tickets at stljewishfilmfestival.org starting April 9.

The 2021 Jewish Film Festival co-chairs are Marilyn K. Brown, Jeffrey Korn and Paula Sigel. The Jewish Film Festival is a program of the Jewish Community Center.

ABOUT THE J:
The J is an interactive, multi-generational gathering place that offers a variety of programs and services to both the St. Louis Jewish community, and the community at large. The Jewish Community Center provides educational, cultural, social, Jewish identity-building and recreational programming and offers two, state-of-the art fitness facilities, all designed to promote physical and spiritual growth. Everyone is welcome at the J.

Breaking Bread (Available June 6-8)

Trailer: https://youtu.be/qbxk3UhF34M

Israel | English and Hebrew with English subtitles

Director: Beth Elise Hawk

Documentary: 86 minutes

Availability: Viewable within Missouri and Illinois

Exotic cuisine with a side of politics…

Dr. Nof Atamna-Ismaeel was the first Israeli Muslim Arab to win the top prize in Israel’s MasterChef TV competition. She went on to found the A-sham Food Festival in Haifa, a celebration of Arab cuisine inspired by traditional dishes from the Levant food culture. A film about hope, synergy and mouthwatering fare, the film illustrates what happens when people focus on the person, rather than religion; on the public, rather than the politicians.

Film Conversation: Available On-Demand

Local, award-winning chef and restauranteur, Ben Poremba, interviewed by Ellen Futterman, editor of the St. Louis Jewish Light

Service to Man

Trailer: https://youtu.be/J3qIBvUJEyQ

USA | English

Directors: Aaron Greer and Seth Panitch

Feature: 92 minutes

How do we measure success?…

Inspired by a true story, it’s 1967, and Eli Rosenberg has a problem… only one medical school in the country will accept him: Meharry, a historically black medical school in Tennessee, a considerable distance from his life in Brooklyn. Michael Dubois has a problem… only one medical school will suffice for him: Meharry, his father’s alma mater. Eli and Michael have another problem: they are outsiders from different backgrounds inside the pressure cooker of medical school. They battle the mysteries of medicine, demanding professors and each other.

Film Conversation: Available On-Demand

Led by Marylen Mann, Chairman Emeritus at OASIS Institute, with Dr. Ira Kodner and Dr. Will Ross.

Love It Was Not

Trailer: https://youtu.be/QF0L6VkUZjM

Austria/Israel | English and German/Hebrew

with English subtitles

Director: Maya Sarfaty

Documentary: 82 minutes

Astonishing but true…

A Nazi officer falls in love with a Jewish concentration camp prisoner, a forbidden romance with decades-long repercussions. Beautiful Helena Citron is among the first inmates to confront the dehumanizing conditions of Auschwitz. There, she captures the attention of Franz Wunsch, a high-ranking SS officer smitten by her singing voice. Risking execution if caught, their forbidden liaison continues until Helena’s miraculous liberation. The pair don’t meet again until Helena is a witness at Wunsch’s war crimes trial 30 years later.

Film Conversation: Available On-Demand

Film Director, Maya Sarfaty, interviewed by Warren Rosenblum, PhD, History, Politics and International Relations at Webster University

Antisemitism

Trailer: https://youtu.be/RGiCIPVRR6c

Canada/France/Israel | French with English subtitles

Director: Ilan Ziv

Documentary: 80 minutes

A vitally important film covering a universal and unfortunately ongoing issue…

Tracing the insidious origins of antisemitism in France from the Middle Ages to the 1894 Dreyfus Affair to the present day, this film delves deeply and intellectually into the depiction of “the Jew” in society and how that image established an ideology of hate that eventually led to the Holocaust. In the aftermath of the war, a devastated France continued this ideology of antisemitism that set the stage for a modern wave of anti-Jewish sentiment and attacks.

Film Conversation: Available On-Demand

Led by Karen Aroesty, Director ADL Heartland, and Dr. Mara Cohen Ioannides, Missouri State University

Aulcie

Trailer: https://youtu.be/XgXzmadlFHM

USA/Israel | English/Hebrew with English subtitles

Director: Dani Menkin

Documentary: 72 minutes

The meteoric rise and fall of a legend…

One of Israel’s greatest athletes captures the spirit of a nation. Recruited from the basketball courts of Harlem, Aulcie Perry joined Maccabi Tel Aviv in 1976, established himself a leader, and helped defeat the heavily favored Soviets to give team Israel its first European Championship. He adopted a Hebrew name, converted to Judaism, and dated an Israeli model. But the dark side of fame led to a stunning downfall. Returning to Israel after time in prison, Aulcie shares his story of redemption. Featuring electrifying game footage and insightful interviews.

Film Conversation: Available On-Demand

Director Dani Menkin interviewed by Larry Levin, Executive Director of Ozark Land Trust and former Publisher & CEO of the St. Louis Jewish Light

Howie Mandel: But Enough About Me

Trailer: https://youtu.be/DgOFAP4yD3U

Canada | English

Director: Barry Avrich

Documentary: 88 minutes

Heartwarming, funny, candid…

A touching look at the life of wildly inventive comedian and actor, Howie Mandel…a man who uses humor to cope with a world that terrifies him. This intimate portrait examines one of the most beloved and complex comedians and his invulnerable spirit. Told through his own voice and using a wealth of behind-the-scenes clips, the film examines his extraordinary life and career as well as his painful struggles with mental illness and how he manages a relentless pace in his professional and private life.

Here We Are

Trailer: https://youtu.be/Qsl3zZi75Pc

Israel | Hebrew with English subtitles

Director: Nir Bergman

Feature: 94 minutes

Availability: Viewable within Missouri and Kansas

A stirring and uplifting tale of fatherly love…

Aharon has devoted his life to raising his son, Uri. They live together in a gentle routine, away from the real world. But Uri is autistic and now as a young adult, it might be time for him to live in a specialized home. While on their way to the institution, Aharon decides to run away with his son and hits the road, thinking that Uri is not ready for this separation. Or is it, in fact, his father who is not ready? A story about parental love, about change, and separation; about letting go and moving on.

Kiss Me Kosher

Trailer: https://youtu.be/gGGjxGYAWo8

Germany/Israel | English and Arabic/German/Hebrew with English subtitles

Director: Shirel Peleg

Feature: 105 minutes

Availability: Viewable within Missouri and Kansas

What happens with lovers who don’t fit but do belong together?…

Sparks fly when two families from different cultural backgrounds collide to plan a same-sex wedding. Israeli Shira is in love with Maria, a German. Berta, Shira’s grandmother who is a Holocaust survivor (and happens to secretly love a Palestinian!) vehemently opposes the match. While Shira’s brother eagerly documents the family chaos for a school video project, Shira and Maria discover the road to happiness is more a minefield, littered with booby traps that could detonate at any time.

The Good Nazi

Trailer: https://youtu.be/FTy7O6IVVbw

Canada/Israel | English and Hebrew/German with English subtitles

Directors: Yaron Niski and Ric Esther Bienstock

Docudrama: 52 minutes

The unknown tale of a Schindler-type German…

Nazi Major Karl Plagge arrived in Vilnius, Lithuania with the occupation force during WWII. The SS was determined to murder every Jew, but Plagge decided to save Jews instead. On the surface, he was commandant of the HKP forced labor camp; in reality, he was sheltering hundreds of Jewish families. With today’s government about to tear down the HKP site, scientists arrive to locate hiding places and identify mass graves. The film tracks the stories of a child survivor, an American physician whose mother was saved and Plagge himself.

The Last Supper

Trailer: https://youtu.be/NzuxLdJvJ2Q

Germany | German with English subtitles

Director: Florian Frerichs

Feature: 80 minutes

Availability: Viewable within Missouri and Kansas

A warning letter to the world…

On the day Hitler comes to power, the German-Jewish family Glickstein has a family dinner. Most of them, however, (like so many other Germans at that time) don’t take the Nazis seriously. When young Leah reveals her plans to emigrate to Palestine, her family starts arguing. Her father can’t see any reason to leave Germany, the country of their ancestors and the country he risked his life for during WWI. But when Leah´s younger brother indicates that he is an ardent admirer of the Nazi movement, the family is on the brink of being torn apart.

The Starry Sky Above the Roman Ghetto

Trailer: https://youtu.be/3O9xSGXlYeg

Italy | Italian with English subtitles

Director: Giulio Base

Feature: 100 minutes

Availability: Viewable within Missouri and Kansas

Indelible memories that must not be erased…

The past intertwines with the present as the discovery of a mysterious, yellowed old photograph of a little girl leads Christian and Jewish students on a search for the truth…who is she? Trying to unravel the mystery behind the portrait, the teens embark on a journey retracing a night of horror: the raid on the Roman Ghetto during the Shoah. What they learn inspires them to take a  collective stance toward commitment in its many forms, because sometimes indifference is worse than hate.

The Crossing

Trailer: https://youtu.be/Dt-ccqi4Pys

Norway | Norwegian with English subtitles

Director: Johanne Helgeland

Feature: 96 minutes

Availability: Viewable within Missouri and Kansas

Uncompromising loyalty and great courage…

Set in Norway during WWII, this is the story of 10-year-old Gerda, an intrepid young girl with an adventurous spirit. When she and her more cautious older brother witness the arrest of their parents for their role in the Resistance, the event justifiably shakes the two. Then they meet two Jewish children who are hiding under Gerda’s parents’ protection. Gerda decides the four youngsters should venture into the Nazi-controlled countryside in an attempt to reunite their new friends with their parents.

Ma’abarot

Trailer: https://youtu.be/9Tm2J9l8O9U

Israel | Hebrew with English subtitles

Director: Dina Zvi-Riklis

Documentary: 84 minutes

Overlooked Israeli history…

Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa reveal the discrimination and harsh conditions which awaited them when they came to 1950’s Israel. Arriving during a time of poverty and austerity, Jews seeking shelter in the Promised Land instead were forced into shantytowns known as ma’abarot. Thrown together from different cultures, already demoralized immigrants waited days for food, showers and toilets. The troubling testimony of camp refugees is illustrated with never-before-seen archival materials.

Bonus Film for All-Access Pass Holders

Egg Cream

USA | English

Directors: Nora Claire Miller and Peter Miller

Documentary: 15 minutes

Chocolate syrup + milk + seltzer = an egg cream…

A short film about the enduring meaning of a beloved chocolate soda drink born on the Jewish Lower East Side. The egg cream contains neither eggs nor cream – it was a product of necessity and hardship, but a source of joy and sweetness. Through a tour of egg cream establishments led by a filmmaker and his young daughter, exhaustively researched archival imagery, and even a song by Lou Reed, the film examines the Jewish experience in America and the mythology of a simpler time.

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