Boulder Jewish Film Festival Unspools 8th Season

Boulder Jewish Film Festival Unspools 8th Season

The films have been selected, sponsors are choosing their titles, and the printed program is getting ready to go to print. The 8th Boulder Jewish Film Festival has taken shape nicely, with an emphasis on humor, heroes, and healing in the 18 film programs that will be screened at the Dairy Arts Center, March 4-15, 2020.

Jazz musician and CU alum Barbara Bentree appears in person with her musical biography of Dave Grusin

We open again this year with a jazz-fueled documentary, an overdue tribute to Boulder’s own Dave Grusin. In order to offer audiences the very best listening and viewing experience, our opening on Wednesday, March 4 features two screenings in the Boedecker Theater. The opening night reception in the Dairy Lobby will be between the two screenings, featuring live music, refreshments, and an opportunity to meet director Barbara Bentree, a graduate of the CU College of Music, like Grusin himself.

We close with an improbable Palestinian comedy, a rarity in origin and hilarity. Israeli filmmaker Dani Menkin returns to Boulder with two fantastic new films for our Centerpiece on Wednesday, March 11. We honor exemplary arts enthusiasts Grace and Gordon Gamm with a screening of “Holy Lands” and a reception on Sunday, March 8. The JCC’s newly created Irene Rosenschein Holocaust Education Fund will have its official launch at the screening of  the Hungarian post-Holocaust drama, “Those Who Remained,” shortlisted for the best foreign film Oscar, at noon on Wednesday, March 11.

The Israeli short film, “How to Swim

For the first time, we present two programs of short films that have been programmed by a committee of volunteers chaired by Judith Dack. Both programs will be shown twice in the Boe, with a closing night reception honoring the committee on Sunday, March 15, prior to the premiere of “Tel Aviv on Fire.”

Please peruse our titles below. I am thrilled with the quality, humanity, and humor of this year’s selections, and look forward to discussing them with you.

The opportunity to sponsor a film is still available but the deadline is Tuesday, December 23. Sponsorships are the festival’s lifeblood, and a fun way to meet other film fans. Our special Sponsor Sneak Preview is a champagne brunch on Sunday, February 2 that features trailers, conversation, and the chance to purchase tickets before they go on sale to the public on Monday, February 3. Contact for information about sponsorships.


Dave Grusin: Not Enough Time” – Equally esteemed as a film composer and jazz giant – with an Oscar and 10 Grammys and one Oscar – Colorado native Dave Grusin looks back on a rich life and a varied career as composer, arranger, producer, and pianist. Directed by CU College of Music alum Barbara Bentree, who appears in person.

At 4:00 and 7:00 pm, Wednesday, March 4, in the Boedecker Theater



Tel Aviv on Fire” – The silly melodrama of a popular Palestinian soap opera serves as the perfect metaphorical backdrop for director Sameh Zoabi’s satire of life in the Middle East. Kais Nashef, who plays the soap opera’s hapless writer, won best actor at the Venice International Film Festival for his endearing performance. Winner of best film at the Haifa International Film Festival.

6:30 pm, Sunday, March 15 in the Gordon Gamm Theater

Feature Film/Comedy/Political History/Pop Culture


Centerpiece: Director Dani Menkin appears in person on Wednesday, March 11 with two new film portraits.

Aulcie” – The unlikely Israeli hero who led Maccabi Tel Aviv to an upset win in the European Championship, Aulcie Perry takes center court in Dani Menkin’s look at the African American athlete’s remarkable and inspiring journey.

3:00 pm, Wednesday, March 11 in the Gordon Gamm Theater

Documentary/Jewish Identity/Biography/Sports/Israel

Picture of His Life” – World famous underwater photographer Amos Nachoum has one last chance to fulfill a lifetime quest in Dani Menkin’s visually thrilling portrait of a rugged individualist whose passion verges on obsession.

6:30 pm, Wednesday, March 11 in the Gordon Gamm Theater

Documentary/Environment/Biography/Nature Photography


Holy Lands” – James Caan stars as a cantankerous American cardiologist who retires to the Holy Land to raise pigs – and a little hell – in this humorous, warm-hearted look at the secular/religious divide.

Sunday, March 8 at 6:30 pm in the Gordon Gamm Theater. Reception at 5:30 in the Dairy Lobby.

Feature Film/Comedy/Jewish Identity/The Secular-Religious Divide

The Unorthodox” –A populist political movement is born of one Sephardic man’s growing discontent with discrimination in this lively, insightful drama loosely based on the founding of Israel’s Shas party. Starring famed Orthodox Israeli actor Shuli Rand.

Thursday, March 5 at 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm in the Boe

Feature Film/Political History/Israel

The Spy Behind Home Plate” – Veteran filmmaker Aviva Kempner (“Rosenwald,” BJFF 2016) uncovers another fascinating period of American history in the incredible double life of Moe Berg, an enigmatic sports legend who used his major league catching career as a cover to spy for the US during WW II.

Thursday, March 5 at 6:30 pm in the Gordon Gamm Theater

Documentary/Political History/Sports/Biography

Walter Arlen’s Last Century” – A living genius, Walter Arlen figured deeply in American classical music despite the fact that the openly gay, Jewish, exiled Viennese composer was in his 90’s when his works were first performed.

Friday, March 6 at 1:00 pm in the Boe

Documentary/Classical Music/Biography/ LGBTQ

Fig Tree” – This turbulent teen love story and tale of lost innocence – based on the director’s childhood memories and set during the 1989 civil war in Ethiopia – is emotionally illuminating yet unsentimental. Nominated for an Israeli Ophir for Best Picture.

Friday, March 6 at 3:30 pm in the Boe
Friday, March 13  at 12:00 pm in the Boe

Feature Film/Semi-auto-biographical Drama/Jewish Identity/Political History

The Last Cyclist” – A vicious farce and a vital piece of Holocaust history, this filmed production of a satirical play originally written and performed at the Terezin Concentration Camp reminds us that art restores our humanity, and the making of art makes us human.

Sunday, March 8 at 12:30 pm in the Boe

Filmed Play Production/Theater/Holocaust/Satire

Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles” – A love letter to “Fiddler on the Roof,” this captivating homage helps explain why the quintessentially Jewish musical about shtetl life in Czarist Russia – replete with pogroms and matchmakers – remains so universally understood and adored.

Sunday, March 8 at 3:15 pm in the Boe
Sunday, March 15 at 12:00 pm in the Boe

Documentary/Theater/Jewish Identity/Pop Culture

The Mover” – This award-winning Latvian feature film offers a gripping account of the ordinary blue-collar worker who embarked on a covert operation to save local Jews from Nazi persecution and certain death in Riga.

Monday, March 9 at 1:30 pm in the Boe
Tuesday, March 10 at 6:30 pm in the Boe

Feature Film/Holocaust/Biography/Political History

Shorts Program 1

Monday, March 9 at 4:00 pm in the Boe
Sunday, March 15 at 3:00 pm in the Boe

Shorts Program 2

Tuesday, March 10 at 1:00 pm in the Boe
Friday, March 13 at 3:00 pm in the Boe

From Slavery to Freedom” – Natan Sharansky cuts a suitably heroic figure in this overdue portrait of a man who defied the entire Soviet system in his fight for freedom and national identification, ultimately paving the way for all Soviet Jewry.

Tuesday, March 10 at 4:00 pm in the Boe

Documentary/Biography/Political History/Jewish Identity

Those Who Remained” – A bond between two Holocaust survivors in post-war Hungary proves hauntingly intense in this tenderly told tale of trauma, healing, and the fragility of the human heart. Selections of the Telluride Film Festival and Boulder International Film Festival, and Hungary’s Oscar entry.

Wednesday, March 11 at noon in the Gordon Gamm Theater

Feature Film/Post-Holocaust Drama/Healing from Trauma

Born in Jerusalem and Still Alive” – A Jerusalem native turns tour guide in this darkly humorous exploration of the effects of trauma on the Israeli psyche, providing an all-too human perspective on the reality of daily life in the Holy Land. Winner of best first film at the 2019 Jerusalem Film Festival for writer/director/star Yossi Atia.

Thursday, March 12  at 2:00 pm and 6:30 pm in the Boe

Feature Film/Comedy/Healing from Trauma/Jewish Identity/Israel

After Munich” – This poignant look at tragedy and its aftermath follows four women whose lives were changed forever by the massacre of eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Thursday, March 12  at 4:30 pm in the Boe

Documentary/Healing from Trauma/Israel/Political History/Sports

About Kathryn Bernheimer

Kathryn has spent her professional life writing about, teaching, and presenting the arts. Founding Director of the Boulder Jewish Film Festival, Kathryn was Director of Menorah and ACE at the Boulder JCC from 2003 through August, 2019. 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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