WEST ORANGE, NJ — Last weekend marked the debut of JCC MetroWest Gaelen Center for the Arts’ 16th annual New Jersey Jewish Film Festival (NJJFF) at the Maurice Levin Theater, located at 760 Northfield Ave. in West Orange.

This year’s festival, which continues through April 10, features a lineup of award-winning comedies, dramas and documentaries that explore Jewish history and contemporary culture in Israel and around the world followed by discussions with filmmakers, screenwriters, actors and artists, giving the audience an opportunity to consider the meaning and message of each film.

An Opening Night dessert reception on Saturday, March 26 followed a screening of “How To Win Enemies,” an Argentinian dramedy that Gaelen Center for the Arts Manager Carol Berman said attracted a full house and was massive success. In fact, attendees also had a unique opportunity to Skype with the film’s director from his home in Argentina, where Berman said the director was more than willing to answer filmgoers’ questions.

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Berman said Skype sessions and discussions are fun, fluid and informative and a highlight of the festival each year.

"The New Jersey Jewish Film Festival’s continuing mission is to delight, educate, intrigue, inform and familiarize its sophisticated audience with new films ranging from entertaining to thought provoking—always timely and masterfully directed," said Co-char and Curatorial Advisor Vicky Jacobs.

A variety of narratives showing a diversity of subjects from “Israeli Cuisine to Rabin: in His Own Words to Rock in the Red Zone,” to a new film called “The Kind Words,” about a trio of siblings on a journey to find their birth parents, and “Summer Solstice,” a historical drama taking place during the war. The range of genres spans from romantic comedies to music, thrillers, human-rights issues, Jewish identity, racism, questioning one’s own conscience, religion, living with disabilities and the Holocaust. According to staff, the complex and challenging subjects of these high-quality films qualifies them to join the 16th Annual New Jersey Jewish Film Festival line-up.

On Sundays, there will be matinees ranging from “In Search of Israeli Cuisine,” which aired on March 27 and was followed by an Israeli feast in honor of the NJJFF’s lead sponsor Investors Bank, to “Dough” on April 3 and “Manpower” on April 10. “Dough” will be preceded by a dessert reception and resource fair for senior adults.

A free screening of “Karski & The Lords of Humanity” at the College of Saint Elizabeth on Monday, March 28 was one of many NJJFF film screenings that will take place off site. The next NJJFF film “Fire Birds” will be presented at Bow Tie Cinemas in South Orange on Wednesday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m.

Other screenings include “Wedding Doll” on April 5, “Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem” and “The Kind Words” on April 6 at 12:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively, and the Israeli thriller “Mountain” on April 7.

On Saturday, April 9, the New Jersey premiere of “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” directed by and starring Natalie Portman, will be presented at 8:45 p.m. Closing night, Sunday, April 10, will feature “Rock in the Red Zone” at 7 p.m. followed by a local rock band that will entertain during a dessert reception.

NJJFF offers several film programs throughout the year, including the Reel Film Series and Extra! events. For a full schedule and more details, visit www.jccmetrowest.org/njjff.

Tickets may be purchased online at www.boxofficetickets.com/jccmetrowest. For more information, including the festival schedule, visit www.jccmetrowest.org/njjff or call the festival hotline at (973) 530-3417.

On behalf of JCC MetroWest, Berman acknowledged the sponsors that make this event possible each year. Sponsor include Capitol Lighting, Israel Bonds, Friedman, LLT, and other local community supporters like Temple B’Nai Abraham, Temple B’Nai Jeshurun and the College of Saint Elizabeth Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education.

“We are very grateful to our sponsors,” said Berman. “They keep us alive and we couldn’t do it without them.”

TAPinto Livingston is proud to highlight one of its sponsors this week, JCC MetroWest.

TAPinto Livingston thanks JCC MetroWest for their continuing support to help us deliver important news to the residents of this community on a daily basis. Because of sponsors like JCC MetroWest, TAPinto is completely free to subscribers.

To learn more about becoming a sponsor of TAPinto, contact Jackie Schatell at (201) 618-7444.