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Jewish Film Fest a Hit with Audiences

downloadThe Boulder Jewish Film Festival Sponsored by the Millstone Evans Group of Raymond James was by all measures a resounding success. More than 1,200 people attended the 17 screenings of feature films and documentaries unspooled during the weeklong celebration of Jewish cinema.

The opening night gala drew 150 people to the Dairy Center’s Performance Hall, while 175 attended the closing night film and party, which featured a screening of the festival hit, “Hava Nagila (The Movie),” music by the Boulder Klezmer Consort, and a Bar Mitzvah-style buffet catered by Jessica Hersh.

Said Festival Director Kathryn Bernheimer:

I was overwhelmed by the positive reception.  Everyone loved the individual films they saw, and seemed to love the festival itself. People were caught up in the excitement of a festival, which is exactly what I hoped would happen.”

The festival was made possible by the generous donors, sponsors and advertisers whose financial support was critical to the success of the first-time event.

“The fact that we had a gold sponsor in our first year, thanks to the generosity and vision of Sacha Millstone, was hugely important,” Bernheimer continues. “Our goal was to give community members the opportunity to support this event, and to provide organizations and businesses with the opportunity to reach a wide audience through association with this high-profile festival.”

The Boulder Weekly was the festival’s media sponsor, and more than a dozen businesses placed ads in the Premier Program Guide. Eighteen individuals sponsored individual films, while a half dozen more chose to become festival “fans” and “benefactors.” One family chose to tribute their parents by sponsoring two films in their honor.

Non-profit organizations also took advantage of the opportunity to spread their message by sponsoring thematically appropriate films. For example, the Colorado Music Festival sponsored “Orchestra of Exiles,” Chevra Kadisha sponsored “In Heaven, Underground,” and Ignite Adaptive Sports sponsored “Beyond the Boundaries.”

The support of the Boedecker Theater and the Dairy Center also was instrumental in making the festival a success.

Boe program director Glenn Webb was great to work with,” Bernheimer adds. “He has been a true collaborator since the Boe opened its doors two years ago. We have formed a close, mutually beneficial relationship. Our audience loves the Boe, a state-of-the-art cinema, and comes back to other films there. We also attract their film-loving regulars.”

The Boulder Jewish Film Festival committee played a strong role in shaping the first festival, providing guidance and feedback as well as helping to solicit donors. The Menorah Board and Program Committee also provided invaluable support.

Planning is already underway for next year’s festival, March 2-9, 2014. In the meantime, the collaboration between the two organizations continues. On April 21, Kathryn Bernheimer will conduct the talkback following the 4:30 screening of “Koch,” a new documentary about New York’s fabled Jewish mayor. And in May, the Boe will show “The Gatekeepers,” Israel’s Oscar-nominated film, with one screening set aside as a Boulder Jewish Community Center event.

Anyone who is interested in working on the festival should contact Kathryn at 303-998-1021, Kathryn@boulderjcc.org.

About Kathryn Bernheimer

Kathryn Bernheimer
Director of Menorah: Arts, Culture and Education at the Boulder JCC. The former film and theater critic for the Boulder Daily Camera, Kathryn is the author of "The Fifty Greatest Jewish Movies" and "The Fifty Funniest Films of All Time."

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