The Jewish Council of North Central Florida is proud to once again partner with the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Florida to offer two weeks of compelling and provocative films from around the world. The festival will kick off on Sunday, March 11 and will run through Saturday, March 24. Unless otherwise noted, most screenings will be held at 7 pm at Gainesville’s historic Hippodrome Theater.
Scroll down to view the festival schedule.
2017 / drama / 91 min / Hungary
Director: Ferenc Toroc
On a summer day in 1945, an Orthodox man and his grown son return to a village in Hungary while the villagers prepare for the wedding of the town clerk’s son. The townspeople – suspicious, remorseful, fearful, and cunning – expect the worst and behave accordingly. The town clerk fears the men may be heirs of the village’s deported Jews and expects them to demand their illegally acquired property back.
Based on the acclaimed short story “Homecoming” by Gábor T. Szántó, director Ferenc Török paints a complex picture of a society trying to come to terms with the recent horrors they’ve experienced, perpetrated, or just tolerated for personal gain. A superb ensemble cast, lustrous black and white cinematography, and historically detailed art direction contribute to an eloquent drama that reiterates Thomas Wolfe’s famed sentiment: you can’t go home again.
2017 / documentary / 62 min / Israel
Director: Michael Alalu
Award-winning writer Nir Baram grew up in a political household. Both his father and grandfather were members of the Knesset and Israeli government ministers. As Baram begins to lose faith in the possibility of a two-state solution, he decides to travel throughout the West Bank to speak with both the Palestinians and the Israeli settlers living there. The surprising revelations force Baram to challenge his entire political belief system and reevaluate his own hopes for a peaceful resolution to this conflict.
14 ~ 7 pm ~ The Invisibles
2017 / drama / 100 min / Germany
Director: Claus Rafle
In June 1943, Germany infamously declared Berlin “judenfrei”—“free of Jews.” But at that moment there were still 7,000 Jews living in the Nazi capital: hiding in attics, basements, and warehouses, protected by courageous Berliners while desperately trying to avoid deportation. Only 1,700 lived to liberation. The Invisibles tells the stories of four survivors, interweaving their testimony with highly accomplished dramatizations, an unusual hybrid approach that brings edge-of-the-seat suspense to their years spent underground.
Sunday, March 18 ~ 7 pm ~ Hagiga: The Story of Israeli Cinema
2016 / documentary / 73 min / Israel
Director: Noit Geva
The forefathers of Israeli cinema – Ephraim Kishon, Uri Zohar and Menachem Golan – came to cinema from the world of entertainment. These filmmakers stepped into the tiny, emerging film industry with practically no money – but with a keen sense for what their audience would like. Armed with humor, chutzpah and courage, they managed to make international headlines, including Oscar nominations and prizes at Cannes. The movies of the 1960s and the 1970s become more and more ambitious. These films present a portrait of the newly formed Israeli society – a melting pot of immigrants and soldiers where irony and underdogs were the true heroes.
Tuesday, March 20 ~ 7 pm ~ The Testament
2017 / drama / 88 min / Austria & Israel
Director: Amichai Greenberg
Yoel, 45, an international expert in Holocaust research, has spent over fifteen years diligently studying the Nazi’s methods of annihilating Jews in Austria and Hungary. In the course of his research he discovers, almost by chance, classified documents which hint to the fact that his mother is living under an assumed identity. Yoel is certain that this is a mistake, but the further he plunges into his research the more he doubts his mother’s Jewish identity. A mystery about a man who is willing to risk everything to discover the truth.
Sunday, March 18 ~ 2 pm ~ Israel, Why
1973 / documentary / 185 min / Italy & France
Director: Claude Lanzmann
Israel, Why (Pourquoi Israël) is Shoah filmmaker Claude Lanzmann’s first film. The documentary examines life in Israel twenty-five years after the birth of the state. Lanzmann spends time with, among others, German-Jewish émigrés, intellectuals, dock workers, police, prison inmates, and the newly arrived surveying life in the new homeland. The title of the film is often incorrectly given as a question “Why Israel?” however, Lanzmann intended it as an answer or an explanation from a collection of viewpoints.
The film premiered just three days after the Yom Kippur War in Israel. International media attention was caused by an incident in Hamburg, Germany, where leftist groups violently prevented a showing of the movie in October 2009, claiming the movie took a one-sided Zionist perspective.
Saturday, March 24 ~ 8:30 pm ~ Holy Air
2017 / comedy / 81 min / Israel
Director: Shady Srour
Adam is a Christian Arab living in Nazareth – member of a vanishing minority within a minority in the Holy Land and the Middle East. His wife Lamia is a strong, beautiful and progressive Arab woman, who runs a foundation for women’s rights. When Adam hears that Lamia is pregnant and his father falls very ill, he evaluates his life and realizes that he has not achieved much. Despite all his business ideas failing so far, he gives one last try to make it big. And what’s better to sell in the Holy Land other than the very air that Virgin Mary breathed during her annunciation? But in order to, as one priest tells Adam during confession, bring such product into the market he needs to find allies from the three cultures ruling over Nazareth – the Jewish politicians, the Muslim mafia boss and the Catholic church officials. In a politically unstable world where religion is just another merchandise, can the Holy Air be Adam’s salvation or is it just an illusion
2017 / documentary / 74 min / Israel
Director: Ran Tal
The Museum is a film that observes, examines and ponders Israel’s most important cultural institution, the Israel Museum. The film follows the visitors, observes the observers, listens to the speakers and descends to the storerooms, labs and conference rooms. The American museum director, the singing security guard, the Jerusalemite curator, the Haredi kashrut inspector, the Palestinian guide and the visitor who lost her vision are some of the characters that take part in a chain of activities which add up to the museum. For about 18 months director Ran Tal collected footage of the daily routine of the museum that seeks to both reflect and mold the Israeli legacy and culture.
Saturday, March 17 ~ 8:30 pm ~ The Wedding Plan
2016 / romantic comedy / 110 min / Israel
Director: Rama Burshtein
At 32, Michal is finally looking forward to the comfort and security if marriage, when she is blindsided by her fiance’s decision to call off the wedding with only a month’s notice. Unwilling to return to a lonely single life, Michal decides to put her trust in fate and continue with her wedding plans, believing Mr. Right will appear by her chosen date. Confident she will find a match made in heaven, she books a venue, sends out invitations and buys a wedding dress, as her skeptical mother and sister look on with trepidation.
During Michal’s month-long search for a spouse, she enlists the help of two different matchmakers, goes on a series of disastrous blind dates and finds an unexpected connection with a charming but utterly unsuitable pop star – all while dismissing pleas by concerned family members that she reconsider her risky plan. As the day of the ceremony grows closer and no suitor appears, Michal puts everything on the line to find happiness.
Thursday, March 15 ~ 7 pm ~ West of the Jordan River
2018 / documentary / 84 min / France & Israel
Director: Amos Gitai
Amos Gitai (Rabin, The Last Day; Kadosh; Free Zone) returns to the screen for the first time since his 1982 documentary Field Diary with this portrait of the citizens, Israelis and Palestinians, who are trying to overcome the consequences of occupation. West of the Jordan River shows the human ties woven by the military, human rights activists, journalists, mourning mothers, and even Jewish settlers. Faced with the failure of politics to solve the occupation issue, these men and women rise and act in the name of their civic consciousness. This human energy is a proposal for long-overdue change.
Monday, March 19 ~ 7 pm ~ Operation Wedding
2016 / documentary /63 min / Israel & Latvia
Director: Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov
Leningrad, 1970. A group of young Jewish dissidents plots to hijack an empty plane and escape the USSR. Caught by the KGB, they were sentenced to years in the gulag and two were sentenced to death. 45 years later, filmmaker Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov reveals the compelling story of her parents, “heroes” in the West, “terrorists” in Russia.
It started as a fantasy; under the disguise of a trip to a local wedding, the hijackers would buy every ticket on a 12-seater plane, so there would be no passengers but them. While the Soviet press prints “the criminals are punished”, tens of thousands of people in the free world demand “Let My People Go!” Through a collage of intimate interviews, rare archives and reenactment made both in Israel and Russia, Anat reveals the full story of her parents who cracked the Iron Curtain.
Tuesday, March 13 ~ 7 pm ~ Menashe
2017 / drama / 82 min / United States
Director: Joshua Z. Weinstein
Set within the New York Hasidic community in Borough Park, Brooklyn, Menashe follows a kind but hapless grocery store clerk trying to maintain custody of his son Rieven after his wife, Lea, passes away. Since they live in a tradition-bound culture that requires a mother present in every home, Rieven is supposed to be adopted by the boy’s strict, married uncle, but Menashe’s Rabbi decides to grant him one week to spend with Rieven prior to Lea’s memorial. Their time together creates an emotional moment of father/son bonding as well as offers Menashe a final chance to prove to his skeptical community that he can be a capable parent.
Shot in secret entirely within the Hasidic community depicted in the film, and one of the only movies to be performed in Yiddish in nearly 70 years, Menashe is a warm, life-affirming look at the universal bonds between father and son that also sheds unusual light on a notoriously private community. Based largely on the real life of its Hasidic star Menashe Lustig, the film is a strikingly authentic and deeply moving portrait of family, love, connection, and community.
Thursday, March 22 ~ 7 pm ~ Siege
1969 / drama / 100 min / Israel
Director: Gilberto Tofano
Gila Almagor plays Tamar, an Israeli woman who loses her husband during the Six Day War. Her husband’s friends do not want his memory to be forgotten, and this forces her into the role of the ever-mourning widow. Her story is not uncommon in Israel. Also with Dahn Ben Amotz and Yehoram Gaon.
This recently digitized and restored classic is considered by some to be the best Israeli feature film ever made.
Individual film tickets are $10 each.
Festival passes are
$108 for all 13 screenings,
$72 for 8 screenings and
$36 for 4 screenings.
Please note that we cannot accept MoviePass for ticket sales.
UF student tickets are
FREE with valid ID
on a space available basis.
Students who wish to reserve seats,
should call 352.371.3846 to do so.