Talkbacks are my favorite part of the Boulder Jewish Film Festival, and although I will miss seeing you all in person at the Dairy to discuss the amazing slate of films in this year’s program, I take much consolation in this year’s fabulous guest list. Due to the virtual nature of the festival, which runs March 10-21, many more international speakers will be able to join us for in-depth conversation, including our special retrospective tribute guest Pierre Sauvage, who will share five film programs with us, including the 30th anniversary remastered edition of “Weapons of the Spirit.”
Our talkback guest list ranges from world-renown experts such as Temple Grandin, to author and co-screenwriter Martin Goldsmith, to novelist Dara Horn, to actor Martin Sheen, to veteran director Oren Jacoby and white-hot filmmaker Talya Lavie. Former festival tribute guest Dani Menkin also returns for a combined talkback for his two premieres, while popular local speakers such as Professor Paul Shankman – who joins us for the “Those Who Remained” talkback – return to illuminate our conversations.
Conversation is also central to our two shorts programs curated by Judith Dack, who will facilitate audience discussion as we watch and discuss the shorts together in real time on March 10th and 11th at 2:00 and 7:00 pm. Several filmmakers will join the programs to discuss their shorts with you.
Whenever we have a film that deals with a particular subject, such as autism, we strive to ensure a meaningful and informative discussion by inviting knowledgeable participants to share reactions to the film and provide context for the particular story they tell.
Temple Grandin joins us to share her observations for the new Israeli hit, “Here We Are,” a beautifully rendered love story between a father and his autistic son, on Friday, March 12 at 2 pm. Temple Grandin has seen her own remarkable life portrayed on the screen, with Clare Danes starring as the young scientist battling barriers imposed by her autism. A prominent author, activist, and speaker on both autism and animal behavior, Temple Grandin is a CSU Professor, a prominent proponent for the humane treatment of livestock for slaughter, and author of more than 60 scientific papers on animal behavior.
In addition, we have invited a handful of local community members impacted by autism to join the conversation as our guests – not just because their insights will be valuable, but because I hope they will find “Here We Are” especially rewarding.
In author and classical music radio host Martin Goldsmith we have the ideal guest – an experienced speaker with 50 years on the air and a fascinating personal story to tell. Martin joins us on Thursday, March 18 at 2:00 pm to discuss “Winter Journey,” the film he co-scripted, based on his acclaimed family memoir, “The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany.” In his talkback, Martin will discuss the genesis of his book about his parents’ life as musicians in a Jewish orchestra sanctioned by the Nazis during the Third Reich. He will also talk about his experience as a child of survivors, his relationship with his father, and the making of the acclaimed new movie starring the late, great Bruno Ganz as his father.
Director and writer Talya Lavie joins us from Israel on Sunday, March 14 at 12:30 pm to discuss “Honeymood” – a bride and groom romantic comedy starring Ran Danker and Avigail Harari. Her directorial debut, “Zero Motivation,” based on her own experience serving in the IDF, won Best Narrative Feature at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival and was nominated for 12 Ophir Awards, and won 6, including Best Director and Best Screenplay. “Honeymood,” which also premiered this summer at Tribeca, shares the same dark comedic tone and offbeat storytelling.
Dani Menkin, whose “On the Map” opened our 2016 festival returns with two films scheduled for last year’s festival, which he will discuss in his talkback on Sunday, March 14 at 2:00 pm. “Aulcie,” his follow-up to “On the Map,” is a tale of unlikely Israeli sports icon Aulcie Perry, an African American basketball star whose life off the court was more incredible than his victories. Featuring the most stunning cinematography of any film in our festival, Menkin’s “Picture of His Life” is a dramatic portrait of a veteran underwater wildlife photographer Amos Nachoum, obsessed with becoming the first person to photographing a polar bear while swimming with the world’s most dangerous predator.
Director Oren Jacoby joins us to discuss “On Broadway,” his paean to the Great White Way. The Oscar-nominated filmmaker, playwright, and theater lover has directed and produced documentary films including: Shadowman; My Italian Secret: The Forgotten Heroes; Lafayette: The Lost Hero; Constantine’s Sword; Sister Rose’s Passion; The Shakespeare Sessions; Stage on Screen: The Topdog Diaries; The Beatles Revolution; and Sam Shepard: Stalking Himself.Our retrospective with Pierre Sauvage also comes with its own exciting guest list of speakers invited by him to discuss his films and their larger context.
“Not Idly By: Peter Bergson, America, and the Holocaust” features Pierre in conversation with the daughter of Peter Bergson, Professor Rebecca Kook, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; Scholar Laurel Leff, author of “Buried By the Times—The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper;” and writer David Samuels, Literary Editor of Tablet Magazine.
In his recorded talkback for “We Were There: Christians and the Holocaust,” Pierre discusses the complex role Christians played during the Holocaust with Christian Holocaust scholar John Roth, Jewish scholar Susannah Heschel (daughter of Abraham Joshua Heschel), and prominent thinkers and writers Irving and Blu Greenberg.
Novelist Dara Horn and the Forward’s Rukhl Schaechter join Pierre to discuss his 1979 celebration of Jewish cultural identity, “Yiddish: The Mother Tongue.”
Pierre will also share clips from his work-in-progress and discuss the making of his newest Holocaust rescue documentary, “And Crown Thy Good: Varian Fry and the Refugee Crisis 1940-41” in a live program Tuesday, March 16 at 5:00 pm.
Our closing event features an in-depth discussion with Pierre Sauvage on Sunday, March 21 at 3 pm, by which time audiences will have had the chance to view a number of his films, including his seminal “Weapons of the Spirit.”
I look forward to the opportunities to enrich the viewing experience and foster greater human understanding and appreciation for film.