Two filmmakers share their own personal stories in feature films being presented at the Boulder Jewish Film Festival in March, and a husband and wife documentary filmmaking team also turn to their personal life for inspiration in the opening night film.
In “Foreign Letters,” director Ela Their revisits her teen years as she tells the story of an Israeli girl whose family moves to the United States in the 1980s. Young Ellie suffers from homesickness, language difficulties and rejection at school, but her life brightens when she meets Thuy, a Vietnamese refugee her age with her own set of immigrant woes. The two become inseparable, although their friendship is sorely tested. In real life, the two women are still close friends.
“Foreign Letters,” sponsored by Jackie Wong, screens Sunday, March 10th at 1 pm at the Boe. This bittersweet coming-of-age film, which is in English, is a great movie for teens, families and adults.
Director Ami Drozd also uses his childhood immigration experience as the basis for his feature film, “My Australia.” In this case, the story is about immigrating to Israel, but it explores similar themes of displacement and the search for new connections.
Despite its title, this film is not about Australia at all but rather about a Holocaust survivor in Poland after the war bringing up her sons as Christians. The single mother moves her family to Israel when she discovers her sons are involved in anti-Semitic attacks that are on the rise in Poland. The true story expresses the immigrant struggle for self-identity while trying to build a new life in a foreign land.
Israeli filmmaker Ami Drozd crafts a powerful and immensely appealing film that not only engages with difficult topics – post-war anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism, the plight of Jews who remained in Poland after WW II, and Jews who chose to hide their origins and live as Christians – but gives voice to those who are not usually heard in the Israeli cultural discourse.
Filmmaker Marcia Jarmel, and her husband and co-director Ken Schneider, also turned to their own experience for their latest film, “Got Balz?”. Both filmmakers will appear in person with the sneak preview of their new documentary, which follows their son on his Bar Mitzvah journey – a journey that leads him to Cuba with his grandfather.
For 13-year old Mica, baseball is more than his favorite sport – it’s his path to Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. For his Bar Mitzvah project, he decides to collect baseball gear for Cuban kids, as a way of giving thanks to the island that sheltered his grandfather during World War II. There’s just one curve ball: the United States embargo of Cuba. In this charming coming of age story, Mica’s effort to complete the cycle of compassion that brought his grandfather to safety reveals just how big and messy the adult world can be.
Marcia Jarmel, who grew up in Boulder and attended CU, has been producing and directing documentaries for 18 years. Along with her husband, a producer, editor and sound recordist, they operate PatchWorks Films in San Francisco. Together they explore contemporary social issues through intimate character stories. Their award-winning films have been broadcast and shown worldwide. Their most recent film, “Speaking in Tongues” aired on PBS and won the Audience Award at the San Francisco Film Festival. Their previous films include “Born in the USA,” which was hailed as “the best film on childbirth” by the World Health Organization.
Tickets are now on sale for the Boulder Jewish Film Festival, Sponsored by the Milestone Evans Group of Raymond James, to be held March 10-17 at the Dairy Center for the Arts. To buy tickets and view trailers, click here.