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.
Mauro Mancini’s feature-length debut, “Thou Shalt Not Hate,” is an Italian-Polish co-production that had its premiere at the 2020 Venice International Film Critics’ Week. There, Alessandro Gassmann, the son of the late, great Italian-Jewish actor Vittorio Gassman, won the best actor (Pasinetti) award for his spot-on portrayal of the conflicted protagonist, while the film itself won the best Italian film award.
The story follows a renowned surgeon (Gassmann), the son of a Holocaust survivor, who violates his Hippocratic Oath when he uncovers a swastika tattooed on the chest of a motor vehicle accident victim he’s treating and neglects to save him. Racked with guilt about his wrongdoing, the film explores the subsequent choices the surgeon makes, as well as the ripple effects his initial transgression has on both himself and the family of the neo-Nazi he abandoned.
According to the film’s producer, “Thou Shalt Not Hate” took five years to complete and, as luck (or bad luck) would have it, nationalism in Italy and elsewhere globally intensified dramatically during that time. As a result, the film’s recent release is chillingly relevant to the zeitgeist both here and abroad. Although some of the story elements are a bit far-fetched, the film nevertheless succeeds in making its viewers reflect on racial hatred and xenophobia, currently and historically.
According to Neil Friedman, president of Menemsha Films, the U.S. distributor of “Thou Shalt Not Hate,” “The film works both as a morality tale and as cinema vérité.” Considering the present-day divide in our country, one would be remiss not to screen this gripping and thought-provoking 2021 AJFF offering.