This April 26 to May 3, the 12th annual Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival will celebrate the modern and classic works of Jewish Cinema. In addition, Ed Asner will be celebrated with the premiere of his documentary My Friend Ed, directed by Sharon Baker and executive produced by Liza Asner. For his commitment to activism and preserving Jewish life, the festival will be honoring Ed Asner will as award the first night. Special guests will include Valerie Harper, Ed Begley Jr, Sharon Gless, Peter Jason and Ruby Modine.
Here’s a look at the official list of films and events:
A delightful short film, directed by actor Matthew Modine, starring Ed Asner, Kevin Nealon, Elizabeth Perkins and Ruby Modine.
A Q&A will follow the My Friend Ed screening with Ed Asner, director Sharon Baker, moderated by Rob Eshman, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of Jewish Journal
The Great Dictator
This 1940 American political satire, was written, directed, produced, scored by and starred Charlie Chaplin. It was the great silent movie artist’s first talking picture and an act of political courage. Chaplin plays both leading roles: a ruthless fascist dictator, and a persecuted Jewish barber. At the time, the film advanced a controversial condemnation of Adolf Hitler, fascism, anti-Semitism, and the Nazis. The Great Dictator became Chaplin’s most commercially successful film. Modern critics have also praised it as a historically significant film and an important work of satire. The Great Dictator was nominated for five Academy Awards.
A super-special bonus feature will be the in-person Q&A with legendary actor Norman Lloyd who will discuss his working relationship with Chaplin. Lloyd, still going strong at 102 years old, is a national treasure. The discussion will be moderated by Stan Taffel, Chaplin expert and President of Cinecon Classic Film Festival.
This is a community program and is free and open to the public.
Sunday, April 30, 4:15 pm
Laemmle’s Town Center, Encino
Sponsored by Los Angeles City Councilmember, Paul Koretz and the Department of Cultural Affairs
Train to Zakopané
Veteran filmmaker Henry Jaglom (Someone to Love, Eating, Irene in Time) is at it again!
Adapted from his long-running play of the same name, and based upon true events that occurred in the life of Jaglom’s father, this story reveals humanity in the most unlikely of places – prejudice. A compelling love story that lays bare how compassion and intolerance can, even in the most unusual of circumstance, be one. A successful Russian businessman meets a captivating young nurse in the Polish army on a train-trip to Warsaw in 1928. He is faced with a life-changing dilemma when he discovers that the nurse he is drawn to – and who is enchanted by him – is fiercely anti-Semitic. Will he reveal to her he is Jewish? Will he move toward love, or will he move toward revenge? Starring Tanna Frederick and Mike Falkow.
Saturday, April 29, 8:00 pm
Laemmle’s Music Hall, Beverly Hills
Q&A to follow with director Henry Jaglom and cast, moderated by David Suissa, President of Jewish Journal
Los Angeles Premiere
Today, religious institutions are losing younger members and even closing their doors at an alarming rate. Modeled after the great movie palaces, the Wilshire Boulevard Temple was built in 1929 by the legendary movie moguls and showbiz congregants of the time. Combining classic architecture with the techniques of Hollywood set design, the over-65,000-square-foot landmark is adorned with stunning stained-glass, opulent murals and a soaring gold dome. Over the years, the temple fell into disrepair, so much that the structure was on the verge of collapse. Even amid a Jewish exodus from East Los Angeles, senior Rabbi Steven Z. Leder undertakes an epic and audacious $150 million renovation, seeking not only to restore the building’s physical majesty, but to create a center for Jewish life and social services for an ethnically diverse neighborhood. The seemingly impossible task is documented by filmmaker Aaron Wolf, grandson of beloved Rabbi Emeritus Alfred Wolf, who served the Wilshire Boulevard Temple for decades.
Wednesday, May 3, 7:30 pm
Ahrya Fine Arts Theater, Beverly Hills
Q&A with Rabbi Steve Leder and director Aaron Wolf
Additional highlights of the festival include:
The Wedding Plan
Los Angeles Premiere
Romantic Comedy/Drama/Israel/2016/110 minutes
Directed by Rama Burshtein / Starring Noa Kooler and Oz Zehavi
Hebrew with English subtitles
Director Rama Burshtein (Fill the Void) brings a new delightful story of hope and perseverance. At 32, Michal (Noa Kooler), an Orthodox Jewish woman, is finally looking forward to the comfort and security of marriage, when she is blindsided by her fiancé’s decision to call off the wedding with only a month’s notice. Unwilling to return to lonely single life, Michal decides to put her trust in fate and continue with her wedding plans, believing Mr. Right will appear by her chosen date. Confident she will find a match made in heaven, she books a venue, sends out invitations and buys a wedding dress, as her skeptical mother and sister look on with trepidation.
Winner of the 2016 Best Screenplay and Best Actress awards at the
Israeli Film Academy (Ophirs) and Official Selection 2017 Tribeca Film Festival
Thursday, April 27, 7:30 pm
Laemmle Music Hall Beverly Hills
Q&A with director Rama Burshtein
Sponsored by the Consulate General of Israel
West Coast Premiere
Co-written and Directed by Joshua Weinstein
Co-written and Produced by Alex Lipschultz
Starring Menashe Lustig
Yiddish with English subtitles
Critics’ Pick! Debuted at the famed Sundance and Berlinale Film Festivals!
Deep in the heart of New York’s ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jewish community, Menashe, a kind, hapless grocery store clerk, struggles to make ends meet and responsibly parent his young son, Rieven, following his wife Leah’s death. Tradition prohibits Menashe from raising his son alone, so Rieven’s strict uncle adopts him, leaving Menashe heartbroken. Meanwhile, though Menashe seems to bungle every challenge in his path, his rabbi grants him one special week with Rieven before Leah’s memorial. It’s his chance to prove himself a suitable man of faith and fatherhood, and restore respect among his doubters.
Performed entirely in Yiddish, Menashe uses intimate, handheld camerawork to drop us inside and humanize a hermetically sealed world of Heredi, working-class men debating in crowded shuls or seeking counsel in the rabbi’s library. And yet Menashe is in many ways an outsider in this tight-knit circle, as he bucks convention and ruffles feathers to stay true to himself.
Tuesday, May 2, 7:30 pm
Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills
Q&A with Producer Alex Lipschultz and Rob Adler Peckerar, Director of Yiddishkayt
In partnership with Yiddishkayt
Bye Bye Germany
North American Premiere
Directed by Sam Garbarski
Starring Moritz Bleibtreu, Mark Ivanir and Antje Traue
German with English subtitles
The story picks up where most German period pieces end — after WWII. With the Nazi regime effectively dismantled, a group of Jewish friends want to find a way to America and away from the land that for the last several years had them face to face with death. David, (Moritz Bleibtreu Run Lola Run, Munich) is a Holocaust survivor who starts up a linen business with partner Max (Mark Ivanir, Homeland, The HumanResources Manager) and other former concentration camp inmates, exploiting the guilt of their German customers to raise money to emigrate.
But U.S. special agent Sara Simon (Antje Traue, Woman in Gold) who is investigating his case, is asking uncomfortable questions about David’s wartime past, even suggesting he may have been a Nazi collaborator.
Monday, May 1, 7:30 pm
Laemmle Music Hall
Introduction by Deputy Consul General, Katherin Steinbrenner of the German Consulate
Q&A with actor Mark Ivanir
Sponsored by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany
The LA Jewish Film Festival is a program of the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles.
About the LA Jewish Film Festival
The Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival (LAJFF) was founded in 2005 by Hilary Helstein. LAJFF builds community awareness, appreciation and pride in the diversity of the Jewish people through film. The mission of LAJFF is to preserve and celebrate the rich Jewish heritage; to cultivate Jewish values and the quality of Jewish life in the community (not only for the affiliated but unaffiliated); and to create and maintain a sense of community by providing important and exciting programming for individuals, families and organizations.
Tickets, venues and all information can be found at: http://www.lajfilmfest.org