To prepare you for 21st year of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, completely virtual-for-the-first time as you’ve never seen before, we bring you 21 previews spotlighting the breath of films offered for your home viewing. The films, which represent more than half of those in the AJFF lineup Feb. 17-28, include classics, intimate family dramas, upbeat comedy and historic documentaries. Sit back and relax as the AJFF brings us together through film.
Both a primer on Broadway harkening back to the 1940s and a loving, joyful ode to The Great White Way, this delightfully entertaining and enlightening documentary describes the rise, fall and resurgence of what became the most visited area in the United States. Legends of the stage and screen—Helen Mirren, James Corden, Viola Davis, John Lithgow, Hugh Jackman, Tommy Tune and Ian McKellen among them —probe Broadway’s most beloved plays and musicals to describe how the world’s center of live performance returned from the brink to achieve an uneasy balance of art, commerce and inclusivity.
Though especially meaningful for Broadway lovers, anyone who grasps the raw creativity, chutzpah and struggle involved in bringing a germ of an idea to a full-scale production will appreciate the film’s craft. In the ‘40s, shows like “Oklahoma,” “Brigadoon,” and “Death of a Salesman,” put Times Square front and center in popular culture. But by the late ‘60s, the region became a crime-infested rathole, and in 1972, ticket sales tumbled to their lowest point and many theaters closed. The Shubert Organization that owned over 100 theaters, was first to intervene and support new producing and directing talent, like Bob Fosse who infused sex into Broadway choreography in both “Pippin” in 1972, and then “Chicago” in 1975. “A Chorus Line” also opened in ’75, ran for 18 years, and further propelled ecstatic audiences back to the theater district.
Clips from these and numerous other shows, like “Annie,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Cats,” “Les Misérables,” and “Phantom of the Opera” illustrate Broadway’s tantalizing allure. While AIDS devastated many lives, especially among Broadway talent, it also spawned great new works like “Torch Song Trilogy” and “Angels in America.” August Wilson’s 10-play series including “Fences,” drew new theatergoers, namely Black audiences, and “The Lion King” gained a huge following among families as well as traditional attendees. “Jersey Boys,” “The Book of Mormon,” and of course “Hamilton” are all also singled out in this glorious tribute to live theater on Broadway.