Arts & Entertainment

JCC to Host NJ Jewish Film Festival in Westfield

The 12th Annual Jewish Film Festival of Central NJ starts Wednesday, Oct. 19.

WESTFIELD, NJ — The JCC will host the 12th Annual Jewish Film Festival of Central NJ at the Rialto Theater 250 East Broad St., Westfield, beginning on Wednesday, Oct. 19. Several of the films were winners of Ophir Awards (the Israeli Academy Awards):

To Life!
Wednesday, Oct. 19 • 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. 
Director:  Uwe Janson 
Country:  Germany, 2014 
Language:  German with English subtitles 
Running Time:  90 minutes 

Ruth meets Jonas on the day she is evicted from the apartment she’s lived in for decades. He’s one of the moving men sent to impound all her worldly possessions. When she sees Jonas, she’s taken aback by how much he resembles a man she loved in her youth. Ruth is a cabaret singer who feels the best years of her life are behind her and attempts suicide shortly after her eviction. Jonas is down on his luck and suffering from an incurable disease. He saves Ruth from her suicide attempt when he returns to her apartment in an act of goodwill. As their bond grows, Jonas increasingly relies on her. He learns more about her complex past, and the two, despite their difference in age, form a deep connection. As Ruth recovers strength and renewed purpose, Jonas’ battle with his debilitating illness becomes more apparent. With her friendship and wisdom, he learns to confront his fears, stop running and discover new meaning in life. Adapted from the original short story If Stones Could Cry by Stephen Glantz. Click here to view the trailer.

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The Kind Words
Wednesday, Oct. 26 • 7:30 p.m. 
Director:  Shemi Zarhin 
Country:  Israel, 2015 
Language:  French and Hebrew with English subtitles 
Running Time:  118 minutes

This quirky and wry dramedy follows three Jewish Israeli siblings who, in the wake of their mother’s death, learn the man who raised them is not their biological father. This seismic shock sets embittered, spiky-tempered restaurateur Dorona and her two very dissimilar brothers – the older an unsettled Orthodox father Netanel and the younger a bisexual bar owner Shai – on a quest across France to unravel their origins, rooted in their mother’s native Algiers.  As they piece together the inscrutable secrets of their past, Dorona attempts to reconcile her strained relationship with her long-suffering husband Ricki, while her brothers grapple with issues of familial, religious and ethnic identity. 

Nominated for 12 Israeli Academy Awards, The Kind Words is an insightful melodrama that taps both melancholy and humor in its exploration of a family in crisis and the bittersweet journey of self-discovery that follows. It was the winner of the 2015 Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor. Click here to view  the trailer.

The Farewell Party
Tuesday, Nov. 1 • 7:30 p.m. 
Director:  Sharon Maymon and Tal Granit 
Country:  Germany & Israel, 2014 
Language:  Hebrew with English subtitles 
Running Time:  93 minutes

The Farewell Party is a bittersweet tragicomedy about a very thorny issue: assisted suicide and the right to die. It is, quite often, a very funny film, as mischievous as the youth that has long since left its characters, but not once does it treat its serious subject matter lightly.  It adapts an effective, low-key approach, casually interacting with the moral and religious issues inherent in its premise.  This unique, compassionate and surprisingly funny film tells the story of a group of friends at a Jerusalem retirement home who decide to help their terminally ill friend. When rumors of their assistance begin to spread, more and more people ask for their help, and the friends are faced with a life and death dilemma. 

Despite the fact that the subject is heavy and controversial, The Farewell Party, nominated for 14 Ophir Awards, somehow manages to stitch moments of high drama with a steady stream of occasionally ribald humor. It was the winner for Best Actor. Click here to view  the trailer.

Sabena Hijacking
Monday, Nov. 7 • 7:30 p.m. 
Director:  Rani Sa’ar 
Country:  Israel, 2015 
Language:  English, Hebrew, Arabic and French 
Running Time: 102 minutes

Sabena Hijacking My Version is a powerful, suspenseful docu-drama based on previously undiscovered audio recordings of the former pilot, Captain Reginald Levy who was in command of the Sabena Flight 571 from Brussels to Tel Aviv on May 8, 1972, when it was hijacked by four members from "Black September," the armed wing of Fatah or Palestine Liberation Organization. The film shares the untold story of what exactly took place on the flight throughout 30 hours of nerve-wrecking captivity. It channels the English pilot’s impartial view of the events and elaborates on them with exclusive access to three revered Israeli political leaders who were in charge of the rescue effort, as well as the only surviving hijacker, each of whom tells his and her own stories. Sabena Hijacking My Version fuses candid interviews with archive material and dramatic reenactments of the tense scenes inside the aircraft and the control tower as Captain Levy was held at gunpoint. It takes viewers into the aircraft to witness the events firsthand as the hijackers threatened to explode hand grenades unless 300 prisoners are released. It also gives insight to the tense negotiations which eventually led to a heroic rescue operation during which a special unit of soldiers (disguised as technicians) stormed the plane. The result is a captivating  film full of suspense. Click here to view the trailer.

Midnight Orchestra
Tuesday, Nov. 15 • 7:30 p.m. 
Director:  Jerome Cohen-Olivar 
Country: Morocco, 2016 
Language:  Arabic, English, French 
Running Time: 102 minutes

The estranged son of a once famous Moroccan musician, Marcel Botbol, is unexpectedly transformed after returning to his homeland in this bittersweet crowd-pleaser. Like many Jews who fled domestic troubles, son Michael Abitbol left Casablanca as a child during the racial tensions of the Yom Kippur War and never looked back. After years of silence and buried memories, the brooding Michael is called back to his home by his father. When death claims his father before they can reunite and reconcile, Michael seeks to understand the legacy of this iconic singer of yesteryear – a man largely unknown to him. With the help of a comical Muslim cab driver and a host of other quirky characters, he sets off on an adventure to track down the surviving members of his father’s orchestra and fulfill the old man’s dying wish, finding friendship and rediscovering his cultural roots along the way. The story is full of vibrant characters traumatized by the unexpected departure of Marcel Botbol. The film was the winner of the Ecumenical Jury Prize at the Montréal World Film Festival. Click here to view the trailer

Tickets to the Jewish Film Festival showings available are in advance:  $12 JCC Member/Senior 62+/Student, $14 General Public and at the door: $15 General Admission (for all ages). Series subscriber:  1 ticket for each film $55 JCC Member/Senior 62+/Student  $65 General Public . Call the Film Festival Hotline: (908) 889-8800 x208 for further information. Your call will be returned within 24 hours. Click here to register. Become a sponsor of our 12th Annual Jewish Film Festival, click here for details

The Jewish Community Center of Central New Jersey is located at 1391 Martine Ave., Scotch Plains, NJ, (908) 889-8800. 

Editor's Note: The JCC is an advertiser of For information about advertising, email or call 917-676-2302.

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