The Jewish Film Festival returns with another stellar lineup beginning Sunday, Jan. 11 and ending Thursday, Jan. 22. A wide array of international films with a Jewish perspective will be shown at venues around town. Whether you want to start your new year off with thoughtful reflection on historical events, an exploration of current issues, or a Broadway sing-along, there is something for everyone this year. The films are described below, with show time and venue information.
“Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did for Love” Sunday, Jan. 11, 3 p.m., Springhill Avenue Temple, followed by a Broadway sing-along and cheesecake dessert!
The musical showman who scored some of the most indelible melodies of stage and screen is affectionately remembered in “Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did for Love.” From humble beginnings as a Manhattan boy and son of Viennese Jews, Hamlisch was a child piano prodigy destined for greatness, having been accepted into the Juilliard School as a six-year-old.
He quickly achieved unprecedented success as a composer of such pop hits as “The Way We Were,” scores for Hollywood films “The Sting” and “Sophie’s Choice,” as well as the Broadway juggernaut “A Chorus Line.” By the age of 31, he had won every major award: a staggering four Grammys, an Emmy, three Oscars, a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize. Interviews with Hamlisch, and a constellation of his collaborators — from Barbra Streisand and Carly Simon to Woody Allen and Lucie Arnaz — trace the creative and personal highs and lows of this consummate artist.
“Run, Boy, Run” Tuesday, Jan. 13, 7 p.m., Laidlaw Performing Arts Center, University of South Alabama, guest speaker Rabbi Steven Silberman.
Encore performance: Tuesday, Jan. 20, 7 p.m., University of South Alabama, Fairhope campus, guest speaker Rabbi Steven Silberman.
A superlative saga of courage and compassion, “Run, Boy, Run” tells the extraordinary true story of a Polish boy who seeks the kindness of others in his solitary struggle to outlast the Nazi occupation and keep his Jewish faith alive. Some will help him survive and others will betray him. An unforgettable cinematic experience featuring exceptional performances, arresting cinematography and a transcendent musical score, “Rub, Boy, Run” is directed by Oscar-winner Pepe Danquart and based on the bestselling Holocaust novel by Israeli author Uri Orlev.
“Body and Soul – The State of the Jewish Nation” Wednesday, Jan. 14, 7 p.m., Laidlaw Performing Arts Center, USA, guest speaker Gloria Greenfield, director.
Gloria Z. Greenfield’s powerful new documentary addresses a complex issue eloquently and comprehensively. It not only shows the undeniable historical connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel, but also seeks to debunk the propaganda, myths and misinformation that have become accepted as truth by so many.
“Zaytoun” Thursday, Jan. 15, 7 p.m., Laidlaw Performing Arts Center, USA, Followed by a dessert reception.
Director Eran Riklis (“The Syrian Bride”) gives the 1982 Lebanon War an unexpectedly humanistic and child-centric outlook in “Zaytoun,” the heartwarming story of a downed Israeli fighter pilot and Palestinian boy thrown together on a perilous trek. A People’s Choice Award winner at the Toronto International Film Festival, this film probes the contested borders — physical, historical, personal — that divide Israelis and Palestinians.
“Above and Beyond: The Birth of the Israeli Air Force” Sunday, Jan. 18, 3p.m., Ahavas Chesed Synagogue, guest speaker Nancy Spielberg, producer.
This gripping documentary is a true-life wartime adventure story. In 1948, as five Arab nations prepared to invade Israel, a group of young men from around the globe volunteered to defend the new country. Many were World War II veterans from the U.S. Because of an embargo imposed by the Truman administration, Americans risked losing their citizenship by joining the fight. This remarkable film celebrates the pilots who laid the foundation for the Israeli Air Force.
“The Jewish Cardinal” Wednesday, Jan. 21, 7 p.m., Ben May Library, Bernheim Hall, guest speaker, Jerry Darring, Holocaust scholar.
A dramatic clash of ecclesiastical politics and spiritual soul-searching, “The Jewish Cardinal” is the remarkable true story of the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants who, while maintaining his Jewish identity, became leader of the French church and close confidant to the Pope.
Laurent Lucas brings intensity and heartache to his role as the cardinal who faces a crisis of faith, while Aurélien Recoing gives a tour de force portrayal of the reform-minded pontiff. Helmed by Ilan Duran Cohen and shot on location in Paris and Rome, this handsomely mounted historical biopic is winner of the Best French TV Grand Prix prize at the Festival de Luchon.
“Aftermath” Thursday, Jan. 22 7 p.m., Ahavas Chesed Synagogue, post-film discussion led by author Roy Hoffman.
One of the most controversial Polish films ever made, “Aftermath” is a harrowing mystery-thriller based on the real-life cover-up of a Jewish massacre at the hands of Catholic Poles.
After decades living abroad in Chicago, Franek (Ireneusz Czop) is prompted to return to his ancestral family farm by news that his estranged younger brother Józef (Maciej Stuhr) has come into conflict with fellow villagers. Upon his arrival, Franek is greeted by seething hostility and escalating harassment from the local peasants. As they repair fraternal ties, the brothers literally uncover half-buried secrets of the past and disturbing historical clues that ultimately lead to an appalling revelation.
The first feature in a decade by acclaimed filmmaker Władysław Pasikowski, “Aftermath” sent shockwaves throughout Poland upon its release, forcing the country to confront a long history of virulent anti-Semitism. Nominated for seven Polish Academy Awards, with wins for Best Acting and Set Design, and winner of the Yad Vashem Chairman’s Award at the Jerusalem International Film Festival.
For tickets, and to view trailers for the films, visit www.mobilejewishfederation.org or call 251-343-7197 for more information.