Stories of Survival, Hope, and Heroism at BIFF

Tickets are now on sale for the 20th Boulder International Film Festival, which runs February 29 – March 3 at numerous local venues.

I already bought a ticket to One Life,” the eagerly awaited feature film starring Anthony Hopkins as Sir Nicholas Winton, showing March 3 at 3 pm at the Boulder Theater. A London stockbroker, Winton managed to rescue more than 600 Jewish children from the Holocaust – and took no credit for his heroic act. Known as the British Schindler, Winton is also the subject of a 2011 documentary, “Nicky’s Family,” available on Amazon Prime Video and Chai Flicks.

Maya Hawke as writer Flannery O’Connor

I also applaud the festival for its choice of both Wildcat and guest Laura Linney for its Saturday night special screening. I saw “Wildcat,” the story of author Flannery O’Connor, at the Telluride Film Festival, where director Ethan Hawke had many interesting things to say about the biopic.

Maye Hawke, left, Ethan Hawke, and BIFF guest Laura Linney

This terrific period drama features an outstanding performance by Maya Hawke, who brought the project to her father, and who is a talented actress, singer and model (and daughter of Uma Thurman). Linney, who plays Flannery O’Conner’s mother, is one of the best actresses working today. It should be a special evening.

Family rifts played for laughs and warmth in Hungary

I have also seen and can recommend All About the Levkoviches, a warm and funny Hungarian film that follows a Jewish family on the winding path toward reconciliation, as a secular boxing coach and his Orthodox son and grandson sit shiva. It plays Thursday, February 28 at 4:45 at the Century Theater.

Unbroken,” which I just watched, tells an amazing story of survival during the Holocaust. Filmmaker Beth Lane traces the dramatic journey of her mother and her six siblings who arrived together in America as orphans after the war – even though their non-Jewish father was still alive. “Unbroken” screens Friday, February 29 at 1:30 at the Century Theater and Sunday March 3 at 12:15 at the Boulder High School.

First-time director Beth Lane

I had a chance to chat with Beth Lane, an actress and first-time filmmaker who grew up knowing the remarkable family story, but like so many children of Holocaust survivors, not really knowing the whole story. When Yad Vashem decided to honor the Weber siblings, Beth knew she had to record the story for posterity. Although she had been on many film sets, she learned how to direct on the fly, and now is traveling with the film to festivals across the country.

She says she arrived in Germany with a map but no real plan, and immediately started to make serendipitous discoveries about her family’s experience as they moved around Europe driven by fate. The documentary benefits from the excitement of this quest and her luck in detailing the dramatic events of the children’s journey.

Seven siblings survive impossible odds

Seeing the siblings, now in their 80’s and 90’s, gathered together to share their story is also deeply gratifying.

Beth notes that she is grateful that the family trusted her with their story, and that they, in turn, are enormously grateful that their story has been told.

“Especially after October 7,” Beth adds. “It is so important to stand up. You can’t remain silent. To be silent is to be complicit.”

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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