Thursday, January 8, 2015

New York Jewish Film Festival starts January 14th

The New York Jewish Film Festival kicks ass.

I know that statement isn’t going to sit well with a good portion of the staid patrons of Lincoln Center and the Jewish Museum who want to be above terms like kick ass, but let’s face it this festival is kick ass and fantastic way to start the film year. On the basis of this year’s programing I’m adding it to my must see festivals of the year.

I’ve been going to the festival off and on for years and I’ve been covering it for Unseen for the last four. The first two years I only saw a couple of films due largely to scheduling conflicts. Last year I waded in waist deep and saw about a dozen films. This year I pushed off and went for a swim and I’ll have seen around 25 films by the time it all ends.

The thing that is so cool about the films is that even though they are running as part of a Jewish Film Festival the films aren’t ipso facto of interest just to Jewish people. If you’re looking at the title of the festival and thinking you won’t find something you like think again- consider Angels of the Revolution about Avante Garde artists colliding with natives in Siberia, The GoGo Boys about Cannon Films or the Polger Variant about three sisters who are world class chess players. Whatever connection they have to the Jewish experience, the films also speak to a wider audience. Hell their side bars on New York Noir and Anti War films have nothing to do with being Jewish, they are just excellent films (I dare you to find any Jewish reference in the Japanese war film Fires on the Plains).

While all of the films are good there are a couple of truly great films in the festivals and you really must make an effort to see them:

King of Nerac is one of the best films about creation I’ve seen. The film is a portrait of David Breuer-Weil over two years and its amazing. Yes you get to see his art but you get to know the man and understand how and why he creates. Its wonderful and there is a good chance it will be on one of my best of year lists of 2015.

Equally good on another subject The Zionist Idea is a fantastic explanation of the whole Zionist movement. It’s an almost three hour look that surprised the hell out of me in its examination of the subject from all angles. No matter what side you are in regard to the existence of Israel you really must see the film since it will give you food for thought.

And one of my new favorite films is Deli Man who runs a Jewish Deli in Huston. Actually its more about the history of  deli and an examination of tradition.  More to the point this is food porn for anyone who loves going to places like the Carnegie Deli. This is a must see-though if you go have dinner plans afterward because you are going to want to have a huge sandwich with some matzo ball soup.

There are other good and great films, and starting Sunday I’ll be reviewing them a couple of days before each screen, but why wait go to the website and pick some titles and buy some tickets. Trust me there is some truly great stuff screening and you really need to make an effort to go.

For more information and tickets go to the New York Jewish Film Festival Website.

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