2017 Film Festival Schedule
Opening Day Double Feature: Sunday, June 4
English/Hebrew with English Subtitles
Director: Dani Menkin
Documentary: 85 Minutes
“Miracle on Hardwood”
After beating a dynamic Soviet basketball team, Israeli team captain, Tal Brody, exclaimed in American-accented Hebrew, “We are on the Map, we are staying on the Map, not only in sports, but in everything.” That phrase and the Maccabi Tel Aviv team, a combination of NBA also-rans and Israeli players, rallied a nation in its David-and-Goliath pursuit of the 1977 European Championship. Featuring interviews with the athletes who made history, here is the pulse-pounding action of a high-stakes game combined with an incendiary political situation.
Sponsored by: Kuhn Foundation, Howard N. Lesser
Introduction: Sandy Pomerantz, Attorney, Past President of the J and Gold Medal Winner in Basketball in the 1965 World Maccabiah Games in Israel
French with English Subtitles
Director: Lola Doillon
DocuDrama: 94 Minutes
Suspenseful, compelling, moving
1943. Here is the true story of exceptional bravery and survival against overwhelming odds. As war is raging in Europe, 13-year-old Fanny and her two younger sisters are sent by their parents to a foster home for Jewish children in the French countryside. As the Germans advance, Fanny unexpectedly finds herself in charge of a group of 11 young children. Now she must do the impossible and lead her little group to the Swiss border in order to save all their lives.
Sponsored by: Eileen & Larry Schechter
Introduction: Irl Solomon, Docent St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center
Purchase a ticket to both films here:
Monday, June 5
“Breakfast at Ina’s”
Director: Mercedes Kane
Documentary: 50 Minutes
An affectionate homage
Ina Pinkney is a Chicago legend of the tastiest kind. Known as the “Breakfast Queen,” she fed Chicagoans for 33 years – first, out of a small bakery and, most recently, from her beloved breakfast nook in the West Loop. Surviving polio as an infant, Ina now suffers the effects of post-polio syndrome which caused her to make the difficult decision to close the doors of her celebrated establishment at the end of 2013. The film chronicles the last days of the restaurant as she and her staff serve the final meals. Introduction: Ina will be signing
Introduction: Ina will be signing copies of her book Ina’s Kitchen: Memories and Recipes from the Breakfast Queen, which will be available for purchase
“The Last Blintz”
Director: Dori Berinstein
Documentary: 30 Minutes
An American Dream-Come-True Story
The Café Edison (aka The Polish Tea Room) is the story of a multi-generational, big-hearted, mom-and-pop family business that is tragically and prematurely coming to an end to make room for a five-star, white tablecloth restaurant. It’s also about gentrification and all-consuming greed. It’s an impassioned plea for “progress” that honors the past, protects the future, and preserves the heart and culture of our great cities…before there’s nothing left.
Director: Rani Saar
DocuDrama: 98 Minutes
Based on newly-found audio recordings of Captain Reginald Levy, this is the true story of the hijacking of Sabena flight 571 from Vienna to Tel Aviv on May 8, 1972. Holding passengers and crew hostage for over 30 hours, four armed terrorists threatened to blow up the plane if Israel refused to release over 300 Palestinian prisoners. Weaving archival material with a reenactment of the events, the film includes Levy’s account as well as the testimony of passengers, interviews with a surviving hijacker and Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres.
Sponsored by: Jonas Weil
Introduction: Linda Levy Lipschitz, daughter of pilot Captain Reginald Levy-Live via Skype from Israel
Director: Brett Berns and Bob Sarles
Documentary: 94 Minutes
Music meets the mob
While not a household name, Bert Berns was the songwriter and producer behind many hit singles in the 1960s (“Twist and Shout,” “Piece of My Heart,” “Under the Boardwalk” and “Brown-Eyed Girl”). He also launched the careers of legends such as Van Morrison and Neil Diamond and produced some of the greatest soul music ever made. Born in the Bronx to Russian-Jewish immigrants, his meteoric rise from obscurity, and the heightened emotional pitch of his music, were propelled by a chronic heart condition that cut his life tragically short.
Sponsored by: Barnes Jewish Hospital, Linda & Nathan Cohen, Judith Gall, Elaine & Jeffrey Korn, Harvey Wallace & Madeleine Elkins
Introduction: Live via Skype Brett Berns, Film Director and son of Bert Berns, along with Bruce Bramoweth, KDHX Radio host, and The Caesars who will perform live.
Tuesday, June 6
English/Hebrew/German/Polish with English subtitles
Director: Avi Nesher
Feature: 110 Minutes
Inspired by true events
In the late 1970s, two daughters of Holocaust survivors – combative journalist Nana, and her younger sister Sephi, a soprano and aspiring composer – try to unravel a mystery that has shadowed their whole lives. After a performance in West Berlin, Sephi is accosted by a Polish woman who angrily accuses her father of murder. As guilty secrets and troubling revelations are dredged up, the film boldly charts dangerous emotional territory, still very much part of the Israeli collective subconscious.
Introduction: Burt Newman, Attorney, and Holocaust Museum Speaker
English/German with English Subtitles
Director: Janina Quint
Documentary: 76 minutes
Reckoning, reconciliation, transformation
Today, Europe’s fastest growing Jewish population, including young Israelis, is in Berlin. Germany is considered one of the most democratic societies in the world, assuming the position of moral leader of Europe as Germans embrace hundreds of thousands of refugees. This development couldn’t have been imagined in 1945. This film explores Germany’s transformation as a society, from
silence about the Holocaust to facing it head on.
Introduction: Paula Hanssen, Associate Professor of German & International Studies, Webster University
Hebrew with English Subtitles
Director: Emil Ben-Shimon
Feature: 98 Minutes
Tradition vs. the power of women When the women’s balcony in a Sephardic Orthodox synagogue collapses, leaving the rabbi’s wife in a coma and the rabbi in shock, the congregation falls into crisis. Charismatic young Rabbi David appears to be a savior after the accident, but he slowly starts pushing his fundamentalist ways and tries to take control. This tests the women’s friendships and creates a gender rift between the community’s women and men. A rousing, good-natured tale that is both rebellious and respectful in spirit.
Sponsored by: Margie and Merle Horowitz
Introduction: Maharat Rory Picker Neiss, Executive Director Jewish Community Relations Council
Wednesday, June 7
Director: Michael Manasseri
Feature: 97 Minutes
A sweet pickle of a comedy!
Joey Miller is a cash-strapped party emcee who agrees to go along with a scheme hatched by his conniving uncle (David Paymer). He must steal his grandmother’s (St. Louisan Lynn Cohen) most prized possession – her famous secret dill pickle recipe in order to sell it for a small fortune. Naturally, the plan goes horribly wrong, but the lesson Joey learns in the process is priceless – there is nothing more important in life than your family, except maybe….
Sponsored by: The Gatesworth at One McKnight Place
Introduction: Ellen Futterman, Editor, St. Louis Jewish Light
Director: Kahane Cooperman
Documentary: 24 minutes
The power of music
In 1946, 23-year-old Holocaust survivor Joseph Feingold exchanged a carton of cigarettes for a violin at a flea market in Germany. Seventy years later, Joe donates the instrument to a schoolgirl in the Bronx who has come through her own tribulations. The friendship that blossoms between this unlikely pair is a wonderful testament to the power of music to sustain us through the most difficult of trials, and the power that music has to draw us together across seemingly vast gulfs.
Sponsored by: Nancy & Ken Kranzberg
Introduction: Maureen Byrne, Director of Community Programs, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Violinist Octavia Sydnor, In Unison Graduate Fellow
“The Maestro: In Search of the Lost Music”
English/Italian/French with English Subtitles
Director: Alexandre Valenti
Documentary: 74 Minutes
The astonishing story of Francesco Lotoro, a professional pianist who is determined to preserve the music created clandestinely by inmates in concentration camps. For over 20 years this quiet hero has scoured Europe to find the aging composers before they’re gone and record their music. He has brought to life over 4000 scores, including symphonies, operas, folk songs, liturgical works, swing and Roma music representing another way Hitler failed to destroy “non-Aryan” culture.
English/Polish with English subtitles
Director: Borys Lankosz
Feature: 112 Minutes
Reality vs. fantasy
A washed-up prosecutor is brought in to investigate the brutal murder of a well-known social activist. The trail of victims grows, the killer remains elusive, and clues point to a mysterious connection with historical myths of blood libel. Those murders prompt a wave of anti-Semitic hysteria in the town. In his investigation the prosecutor must wrestle with the painful tangle of Polish-Jewish relations and the real findings of his work – that roots of some legends are fantasy, and contain not a grain of truth.
Sponsored by: Gail and Louis Glaser
Introduction: Michael Kahn, Author and Trial Attorney
Thursday, June 8
English/Hungarian with English subtitles
Director: Sam Blair and Joseph Martin
Documentary: 92 Minutes
Regret or repentance? True convert or charlatan?
As vice president of Hungary’s far-right Jobbik party, Csanad Szegedi espoused anti-Semitic rhetoric and Holocaust denials and became a member of the European Parliament. But his life was upended when he learned his maternal grandparents were Jewish and his beloved grandmother an Auschwitz survivor who had “kept quiet” about her faith. The film depicts Szegedi’s three-year journey to embrace his newfound religion. But is his transformation genuine? An absolutely MUST-SEE film!
Introduction: Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D., President and CEO Jewish Federation of St. Louis
Hebrew with English subtitles
Director: Pini Eden
Feature: 94 Minutes
Unexpected plot twists & turns
In this heartwarming dramedy about families, love and the art of staying young while growing old, we meet Hannah. When she learns that her beloved husband, Froike, is dying, she decides they should die together. However, Froike and his granddaughter scheme to give Hannah a new lease on life. Full of witty dialogue – “What’s to like about old age, your favorite foods are out, sex is just science fiction” – this film proves that youth is more than just about one’s age, it is a state of mind.
Introduction: Dr. George Grossberg, Professor and Director of Geriatric Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at Saint Louis University School of Medicine
English/Hebrew with English Subtitles
Director: Yariv Mozer
Documentary: 70 minutes
Sharp, articulate, amusing
Recently discovered, never-before-seen interview footage of Ben-Gurion is interwoven with additional material of meetings with foreign leaders, a speech in Israel’s Parliament and birthday celebrations. The film is an ode to a great leader who viewed simplicity as a virtue even as he strove for giant goals. It is 1968 and he is 82 years old, five years before his death. He lives in his secluded home in the desert, removed from all political discourse, which allows him a unique hindsight perspective on the Zionist enterprise.
Sponsored by: Diane Fredman, Ronnie & Ellen Gross
Introduction: Robert A. Cohn, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, St. Louis Jewish Light
Summer Movies at the J
Sunday, May 21
Mirowitz Performing Arts Center at the Staenberg Family Complex
Free for Jewish Film Society members, $8 for the general public
Back Door Channels is about the interplay between the official government channels and the men who acted largely behind the scenes during the course of peace process between Israel and Egypt. The film posits that while some of the men, such as Carter, Begin and Sadat, were driven by deeply held faith and conviction, others were military men hawks who in their later years came to see peace as the only viable option. Still others saw peace and stability in business terms.
In any case, together, these heroes found a way to come together and drive the peace process. The film traces the confluence of factors that made the 1979 Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt possible. The term ‘back door channels’ has been in use since the early 1950s and used by government and foreign policy officials as well as intelligence operatives in referring to alternative methods for communicating across borders, using lines of communication not available to traditional official governmental and diplomatic entities nor to covert international intelligence agents.
Tickets may be purchased at the door. For additional information, contact Zelda Sparks.
Sunday, July 16
Director: Ema Ryan Yamazaki
Documentary: 77 Minutes
The birth of the world’s most popular primate
Narrated by Sam Waterston, this film chronicles the story of George’s creators, Hans and Margret Rey. From fleeing the Nazis on self-made bicycles to encounters with exotic animals in Brazil, the Reys lived lives of adventure that are reflected in the pages of the popular children’s book series, first created 75 years ago. The film brilliantly interweaves archival footage and interviews with them, their friends and experts, along with animated sequences in a style inspired by the world of Curious George.
Sponsored by: Lee Bohm, Fox Family Foundation
Introduction: Lisa Greening, Executive Director Ready Readers
Sunday, August 20
English and Hebrew/Russian/Latvian with English Subtitles
Director: Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov
Documentary: 62 minutes
They cracked the Iron Curtain
Leningrad, 1970. A group of young Jewish dissidents plots to hijack an empty small passenger plane and escape from the USSR. Caught by the KGB a few steps from boarding, they were sentenced to years in the gulag, with two sentenced to death. Forty-five years later, through a collage of intimate interviews, rare archival footage, and reenactment, the filmmaker reveals the compelling story! Leaders of the group were considered “heroes” in the West but “terrorists” in the Soviet Union.
Introduction: Barry Rosenberg, Professor of Practice, Washington University, former CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis