The National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis University in association with The
Consulate General of Israel to New England will
present The National Center for Jewish Film’s 8th annual spring
film festival: Jewishfilm.2005: From Auschwitz to America and Israel,
from March 31 to April 10. The 10-program festival will include 4 USA
premieres and 4 Boston premieres.
The festival will host 6 visiting filmmakers: Orna Ben Dor, Widowed
Once, Twice Bereaved; Elinor Kowarsky, IDF:
The Musical; Willy Lindwer, Goodbye
Holland: The Extermination of the Dutch Jews; Volker Kühn, Dance of Death: Cabaret in the Concentration
Camps and two Brandeis graduates, Zeva Oelbaum (’77), Rene
and I: From Auschwitz to America and Pearl Gluck (’93), Divan. All films will be followed by a speaker, either the filmmaker or an
To commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz,
many of the films in this year’s festival deal with issues of
survival, both collective and individual.
In different ways, these films explore how individuals learn to cope
with trauma, big and small, including death, war, exile, family schism,
Oelbaum will present the Boston premiere of her new film, Rene
and I: From Auschwitz to America, the amazing story of resilience
by Irene and her twin brother Rene, who survived, from the age of six,
three years of experimentation at the hands of Josef Mengele at Auschwitz.
Dutch filmmaker Willy Lindwer will bring to the USA the premiere of
his very personal documentary, Goodbye Holland:
The Extermination of the Dutch Jews, which focuses on Dutch complicity
in the deportation of Holland’s Jews and Volker Kühn premieres
his remarkable resurrection of doomed artists in Dance
of Death: Cabaret in the Concentration Camps.
Two films are set amid the ghosts of the Holocaust: the Boston premiere
of Metallic Blues, a road-movie that
Variety calls an “Offbeat, largely comic treatment of present-day
German/Jewish relations” and Pearl Gluck’s documentary Divan,
about the retrieval of a turn-of-the-century family heirloom from Hungary.
will feature four Israeli films, reflecting the diversity, richness,
and challenges of life in Israel. Orna Ben Dor will present the USA
premiere of her new documentary Widowed
Once, Twice Bereaved, about five women whose families were killed
in a suicide bomb in Haifa, Israel and Elinor Kowarsky will present
the USA premiere of the first two hours of a work in progress, IDF:
The Musical, a toe-tapping look at the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
musical bands and entertainers. The festival will also screen last year’s
highest-grossing Israeli feature film Turn
Left at the End of the World and the Boston premiere of In
Satmar’s Custody, a controversial documentary about the anti-Zionist,
United States-based Hasidic sect, the Satmar.
Jewishfilm.2005’s opening program, offered in celebration of
the Jewish community’s 350th anniversary in America, is the Boston
premiere of the newly restored and subtitled 1940 Yiddish feature American
Matchmaker (Amerikaner Shadkhn). Starring Leo Fuchs “the Yiddish
Fred Astaire” in an art deco romantic comedy set on New York’s
Upper West Side, this clash between the urbane, slick manners of the
new country and the old, busybody, communal ways of the shtetl, offers
a satisfying combination of humor, music and schmaltz.