At this time last year, I was getting ready to launch the all-virtual 9th edition of the Boulder Jewish Film Festival, which proved a successful if quite different experience in challenging times.
This year, the festival will celebrate its 10 anniversary November 3-13, having been permanently moved to the fall for a variety of reasons having to do with the JCC’s increasingly rich schedule of events and to avoid the spring storms that so often disrupted our event.
I have already found many excellent films for our 10th festival, which we hope will be entirely in-person, but which may have a virtual component as well.
In the meantime, there’s no shortage of excellent Jewish films to see. Next week, the Dairy’s Boedecker Theater and the JCC present “Breaking Bread,” a wonderful new documentary focusing on a culinary collaboration between Israeli and Arab chefs. The inspiring and encouraging film plays March 9-13 at the Boe.
Also, on April 5 and 6, the Boe presents “Dave Grusin: Not Enough Time,” which we also screened at the festival with director Barbara Bentree in person. This time, Dave Grusin – a CU alum and perennial Conference on World Affairs participant – will also appear with his well-deserved bio pic. For tickets to both films, visit thedairy.org.
The hybrid Boulder International Film Festival opens March 3, with films presented in person through March 6, and some films presented virtually through March 17. BIFF’s impressive schedule includes several titles of special interest to Jewish audiences.
“Persian Lessons,” which I also plan to show in November, and which is getting wide play on the festival circuit, is a terrific Holocaust drama that hinges on a clever, desperate strategy for survival.
“The Automat,” a documentary which I saw at the Telluride Film Festival, features commentary by many notable Jewish celebrities – although Jews were by no means the only ones to frequent the revolutionary restaurants in New York and Philadelphia that are warmly remembered in this nostalgic slice of Americana.
Not to be confused with “Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles” – which we showed two years ago and is currently available on Amazon Prime – “Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen” takes a behind the scenes look at the beloved movie.
I also highly recommend “Bernstein’s Wall,” a new look at the iconic composer whose “West Side Story” is currently enjoying a rousing Spielberg revival.
Although devoid of Jewish content, “Julia,” the new biography of Julia Child, was one of my favorite Telluride films.
Last year, Menemsha Films, in my opinion the premier distributor of Jewish films, launched a streaming site showcasing many films we have shown in years past, as well as a wide array of worthy titles that are otherwise unavailable. ChaiFlicks, available for $5.99 a month, also features many hit Israeli tv shows, including my recent favorite binge, the hilarious “Checkout,” and the award-winning “bad boys of the yeshiva” comedy, “The New Black” (previously titled “Shababnikim”). New and classic titles, such as this week’s addition of “Bethlehem,” continually add to an already impressive catalogue. Free trial available.
Now playing in theaters, Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza” is a creative invention served with a delicious Jewish topping, starring singer Alana Haim (along with the rest of her family) in a wild romp set in 1973. A nominee for Best Picture in the upcoming Oscars, set for March 27, it joins several films with Jewish bonafides.
Jewish actor Andrew Garfield is nominated for his outstanding portrayal of the late Jewish musical theater sensation Jonathan Larson in “Tick, Tick…Boom.” Sadly, Joel Cohen (working without brother Ethan for the first time) was overlooked as best director for his masterful “Macbeth,” (Apple TV) which did score three nominations. Happily, Spielberg’s aforementioned “West Side Story,” well worth seeing for the musical numbers, nabbed seven nominations, although I was pleased to see that Tony Kushner was not nominated for his rather self-conscious socially-aware screenplay.
Happy viewing and be sure to check out all the other great programs at the JCC this spring.