The 28th New York Jewish Film Festival features documentaries, dramas and romcoms about the Jewish experience around the world, including about civil disobedience, food, immigration, war, hope and resilience.
As always, you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy this annual festival of international films with universal themes.
The New York Jewish Film Festival features nearly 40 films include from Israel, Germany, Poland, France, Belgium, Spain, The Netherlands and Argentina, including several world, U.S. and New York premieres
And several screenings include Q&A sessions with the director.
The 2019 New York Jewish Film Festival is Jan. 9 to Jan. 22, with more than one screening a day, at three different theaters in Lincoln Centr. ost films shown over several days, to give you more chances to find a screening that fits your schedule.
As a journalist, one of my must-see films this year is a documentary about Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World, founder of the Pulitzer Prize, and the man who raised the money to build the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty donated to the US by France, narrated by Liev Shreiber.
There’s also a remake of the classic Berthold Brecht Threepenny Opera, with Mack the Knife, and a restoration of a 1924 silent classic, A City Without Jews.
Every one of these films sounds fabulous.
- Eric Barbier, 2017, France, 131 minutes
Opening Night· Charlotte Gainsbourg in attendance on January 9 · New York Premiere
Promise at Dawn tells the story of the great Jewish novelist Romain Gary, recounting his impoverished childhood in Poland, his time as a fighter pilot in WWII, and most of all the unyielding love between him and his single mother.
- Yehonatan Indursky, 2018, Israel, 210 minutes
Centerpiece Screening · Q&A with Yehonatan Indursky on January 16 · U.S. Premiere
Set in an alternate present where the country is divided between secular Tel Aviv and ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem, this dystopian drama is a boiling cauldron of the issues of identity, religion, politics, and personal freedom that define contemporary Israel. Presented with intermission.
- Uri Barbash, 2018, Israel, 76 minutes
Introductions by Katia Lom and Q&As with Uri Barbash · New York Premiere
The Russian-born poet Avraham Sutzkever wrote in Yiddish with wit and vitality through the Holocaust, saved hundreds of Jewish manuscripts from destruction, and testified at the Nuremberg trials. His story is a life-affirming exemplar of 20th century Jewish experience.
- Maria Victoria Menis, 2008, Argentina, 86 minutes
Q&As with director Maria Victoria Menis and producer Hector Menis
Shot on location in the lush forests, lagoons, and rivers of Buenos Aires province in a wondrous mélange of visual styles, Camera Obscura tells the story of an immigrant woman whose encounter with an itinerant photographer reveals a sense of self she never knew.
- Elizabeth Rynecki, 2018, USA/Canada/Israel/Poland, 78 minutes
Q&As with Elizabeth Rynecki · New York Premiere
After the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, artist Moshe Rynecki left his collection of more than 800 paintings and sculptures with friends around Warsaw for safekeeping. But after his death in Majdanek, his work was dispersed. This documentary tells the compelling story of his great-granddaughter Elizabeth’s quest to uncover the story of his extraordinary collection.
- Rubi Gat, 2017, Israel, 74 minutes
Introduction by Columbia University Film Professor Annette Insdorf · New York Premiere
This documentary tells the story of Fredy Hirsch, a remarkable openly gay German Jew who fled to the Czech Republic when the Nuremberg Laws were passed, became head of the youth department in the Ghetto Terezin, and set up a daycare center in his final, tragic days in Auschwitz.
Showtime – January 20 at 2:45pm
- Amikam Kovner and Assaf Snir, 2018, Israel, 98 minutes
New York Premiere
In this beautifully acted drama starring Yael Abecassis and Yoram Toledano, a man suspects his wife of infidelity and records her phone conversations. While he obsessively listens, she tragically dies in a car crash and the recordings become an investigation into a life he thought he knew.
- Stephane Kaas, 2017, The Netherlands, 67 minutes
Q&As with Stephane Kaas · U.S. Premiere
Israeli writer Etgar Keret is beloved and renowned for his surreal, delightful short stories. In this quirky portrait, filmmakers Stephane Kaas and Rutger Lemm journey deep into the young writer’s past and motivations.
- Aäläm‐Wärqe Davidian, 2018, Israel/Germany/France/Ethiopia, 93 minutes
Q&As with Fig Tree producer Naomi Levari · U.S. Premiere
Mina is a 16-year-old Jewish girl who has lived in the midst of the Ethiopian Civil War her entire life. As she plans to flee the country for Israel, she attempts to save her Christian boyfriend from the draft.
- Michal Rosa, 2016, Poland, 98 minutes
New York Premiere
It’s the summer of 1939 and Rose, a beautiful young Jewish woman, has three aggressive suitors, a Pole, a Silesian, and a German in an apartment building on the Polish-German border. This enchanting film follows them in their quixotic and comic days leading up to WWII.
- Oren Rudavsky, 2018, USA, 85 minutes
Q&As with Oren Rudavsky on January 10 · New York Premiere
Joseph Pulitzer began as a penniless Jewish immigrant from Hungary and grew into one of America’s most admired and feared media figures. Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People tells the rare story of the man behind the prize, who spoke of “fake news” and the importance of freedom of the press over a century ago. His New York newspaper The World spoke to an unprecedented number of readers and maintained powerful journalistic ideals through its ascent.
- Silvia Quer, 2018, Spain, 96 minutes
Q&As with Silvia Quer · New York Premiere
The Light of Hope is a compelling drama based on the true story of Elisabeth Eidenbenz, director of the Elne maternity home. Eidenbenz and her female co-workers saved the lives of 600 hundreds of infants during the Spanish Civil War and WWII by providing humane conditions for pregnant women fleeing Vichy refugee camps, as she and her staff risk their lives to keep their maternity home and the women within it safe.
- Joachim Langm 2018, Germany, 130 minutes
After the premiere of Bertolt Brecht, Elisabeth Hauptmann, and Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera in 1928, the work seemed destined for the silver screen: Brecht sought to make a socially conscious film, but the studio wanted a crowd pleaser. This fantastical and theatrical satire dramatizes his valiant attempt to adapt his opera to the screen.
- Taliya Finkel, 2017, Germany/Israel, 58 minutes
Q&A with director Taliya Finkel and Anna Boros’s daughter Carla Greenspan · U.S. Premiere
During WWII, Mohamed Helmy, an Egyptian doctor living in Berlin, saved a Jewish woman from capture by the Nazis by disguising her as a Muslim woman. This astounding documentary uncovers the many extraordinary maneuvers and deceptions he took to save her life, at great risk to his own.
- Veronica Gonzalez Peña, 2019, USA, 74 minutes
Q&A with Veronica Gonzalez Peña and Pat Steir · World Premiere
A warmly intimate portrait of the groundbreaking painter and feminist, whose life and practice have been enlivened for half a century by her deep friendships and alliances with the most influential artists and poets of her generation.
- Nina Paley, 2018, USA, 78 minutes
Q&As with Nina Paley · N.Y. Premiere
Animator Nina Paley brings us a wildly playful and imaginative retelling of the Book of Exodus in musical form. The Burning Bush does a rendition of Louis Armstrong and Pharaoh sings “I Will Survive,” among other antics.
- Nikolaus Leytner, 2018, Germany, 108 minutes
A young tobacco shop apprentice in Nazi occupied Vienna falls in love with a music hall dancer and turns to Sigmund Freud, a regular customer and unlikely new friend, for advice in this beautifully realized wartime drama starring Bruno Ganz as Sigmund Freud.
- Amos Gitai, 2018, Israel/France, 94 minutes
Q&As with Amos Gitai · U.S. Premiere
A series of poignant and humorous encounters along the Light Rail Red Line, which connects Jerusalem East to West from Palestinian to Israeli neighborhoods, reveal the city’s diverse mosaic of humanity and offer a kernel of hope for mutual understanding. With Mathieu Amalric.
- Roberta Grossman, 2018, Poland/USA, 95 minutes
Q&As with Roberta Grossman, producer Nancy Spielberg, and historian Samuel Kassow on January 17; actor Joan Allen also in attendance for 8:30pm screening · New York Premiere
When the Nazis created the Warsaw Ghetto, a group of scholars, journalists, and community leaders, led by historian Emanuel Ringelblum, conducted a secret effort to document the fate of the 450,000 Jews sealed within. These testimonies comprise perhaps the most important archive of original material compiled by Jews during the Holocaust.
- Ewald André Dupont, 1923, Germany, 135 minutes
Musical accompaniment by violinist Alicia Svigals and pianist Donald Sosin
In a shtetl in Galicia, the son of a rabbi gets a bug for acting and is swept into a cosmopolitan, glamorous lifestyle, much to the chagrin of his more traditional father. Featuring a new score and live accompaniment by pianist Donald Sosin and klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals.
- Samy Szlingerbaum, 1980, Belgium, 80 minutes
U.S. Premiere of the restoration · Introduction by film critic J. Hoberman on January 21
In one of the first postwar films in Yiddish, director Samy Szlingerbaum masterfully weaves together the dramatic story of his parents’ search for a home and haunting footage of postwar Brussels to explore the marginality of young Holocaust survivors in Europe after the WW-II.
- Hans Karl Breslauer, 1924, Austria, 91 minutes
N.Y. Premiere of the restoration
This 1924 silent masterpiece is one of few surviving Austrian Expressionist films and a chilling premonition of the Holocaust. Based on Hugo Bettauer’s dystopian novel of the same name, it follows the rise of the Christian Social Party, which orders all Jews to evacuate Austria.
- Assi Dayan, 1992, Israel, 100 minutes
U.S. Premiere of the restoration
In this touchstone of Israeli cinema, an assortment of Tel Aviv citizenry—Jews, Arabs, kibbutzniks, city-dwellers, and soldiers—gather in a bar to play out a series of bitter and ultimately tragic dramas over the course of one night.
- 60 minutes
Join Yehonatan Indursky, writer and director of NYJFF Centerpiece selection Autonomies, for a master class on writing, directing, and producing for television and film.
- 60 minutes
Presented in conjunction with the NYJFF Main Slate selection Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People, join Jami Floyd, host of “All Things Considered” on WNYC; Adam Moss, editor-in-chief of New York magazine; filmmaker Oren Rudavsky; and Jodi Rudoren, Associate Managing Editor of The New York Times for a multifaceted conversation.