Sunday, January 9, 2011

The FSLC & The Jewish Museum's NYJFF -- 20th edition -- opens Wednesday, Jan. 12

The Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center join their usual forces to present the annual  New York Jewish Film Festival (NYJFF, this year in its 20th incarnation!) at the usual three Manhattan venues -- the Film Society’s Walter Reade Theater, The Jewish Museum itself, and The JCC, beginning this Wednesday January 12 and continuing through January 27, 2011. This year's fest includes 36 features and shorts from 14 different countries. Of these, 31 will be premieres -- world,  U.S. or New York -- and, as usual, will provide a diverse global perspective on the Jewish experience, past and present.

How diverse? How's this: From Yoav Potash’s documentary Crime After Crime that takes place in nearly-present-day Calfornia to Avi Nesher's narrative movie The Matchmaker set in 1968 Haifa, which has been nominated for seven Israeli Academy Awards. The former, above, depicts the legal battle to free a California woman imprisoned for over a quarter century due to her connection to the murder of the man who abused her. She finds her only hope for freedom when two attorneys – one of them an Orthodox Jew – step forward to take on her case. The latter, below, introduces us to Arik, a teenage boy growing up in Haifa who gets a job working for a matchmaker who promises to get you what you need, not what you want. This Holocaust survivor has an office located in a seedy neighborhood in the back of a movie theater that shows only love stories and is run by a family of seven Romanian dwarves.

Don't know about you, but I'd call these two movies pretty diverse. And they're just a start. As usual with the yearly NYJFF, the line-up looks terrific on paper and if the program's two-decade history acts as any guide, it will prove so upon viewing, as well. As of today, I've seen only two of the films, both worthwhile: Stalin Thought of You, which I'll report on soon, and Lilly Rivlin's lovely, informative Grace Paley: Collected Shorts (below), which I reviewed during last year's San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (that review is here.)

In the days to come I'll see as many of the films as I have time for and cover them at this blog. To view the entire NYJFF program, and maybe order tickets, click here.

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