AJFF Offers Much to Love and Learn
NewsAJFF 2019

AJFF Offers Much to Love and Learn

Check out the trailer and film schedule for the 2019 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, which features 76 films, documentaries and shorts.

The long running love affair with the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival is likely to remain as solid as ever with the announcement, this week, of the 76 feature films, documentaries and short films that make up its 2019 schedule.

There’s a lot to love and learn here from the opening night film from Israel, “Shoelaces,” about the touching relationship between an aging father and his special-needs son, to the mouth-watering closer about Jewish food, in “Chewda-ism: A Taste of Jewish Montreal.

The festival, which runs for three weeks, from Feb. 6 to Feb. 26, offers a rich treasury of Jewish life, with films from 28 nations.

“Across these films, one thing remains true: they represent not only the Jewish experience, but the human experience writ large,” said Kenny Blank, the festival’s executive director, and the volunteer leadership note in the opening pages of the 115-page program guide.

As in previous years, the festival offers an excellent opportunity to catch up on your knowledge of Jewish history and the Jewish world. There are more than a few moments of profound discovery in what has arguably become our most important opportunity to experience a community classroom that cuts across denominational lines.

Your choices could be as varied as “Who Will Write Our History,” which chronicles the desperate last days of the Warsaw Ghetto, or “It Must Schwing! The Blue Note Story,” about two young Jewish immigrants from Germany who started one of America’s greatest recording companies. Then there’s “92Queen” about how a group of determined Jewish women, battling a solid wall of male opposition, create an ambulance service for themselves in Brooklyn’s Orthodox community.

The opening night film from Israel, “Shoelaces,” about the touching relationship between an aging father and his special-needs son.

One of the interesting aspects of this year’s festival is the number of films that portray the Orthodox community with more balance and compassion than in the past.

About a third of the feature films and documentaries are from Israel.  Most offer a view of everyday life there that you won’t find in any travel guide to the Jewish state.

There is a searing picture of a dysfunctional Israeli family in the film, “Noble Savage.” “The Dive” details the conflict that engulfs three brothers who come home for a weekend on their kibbutz during the 2006 Israeli war in Lebanon, and “Family In Transition” shows how a couple with four children grapples with the decision of the husband to become a woman.  All are films that showcase strong and often stirring performances by a new generation of talented Jewish performers.

And although the Israeli film industry has raised the ire of at least one Israeli cabinet minister and a number of right-wing members of the Knesset, one festival film fearlessly charts the rise of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in “King Bibi,” a festival stand-out.

Another eye opener is the American premiere of “The Jewish Underground,” in which Israeli filmmakers focus on the surprising influence that right-wing extremists, once convicted of serious crimes, exert in today’s parliament.

Still of Laura Dern in The Tale, an AJFF 2019 movie.

But the festival is not just about great films. This year it will feature great music as well.  The AJFF is presenting its Icon Award to violinist Itzhak Perlman, who will accept the award at a concert on Feb. 16, which the festival is co-sponsoring during its second week.

Perlman was featured in a popular documentary here during last year’s festival screenings and may be remembered for his violin performance in “Schindler’s List.”

The concert will be held in the Byers Theatre, part of Sandy Spring’s new City Springs performance complex. Tickets are on sale now at the City Springs box office. The venue has been added this year for a number of screenings, including the closing night’s film.

The AJFF, heading into its 19th year, not only offers a lot to love but it also offers an entertaining and unparalleled opportunity for all of us, in the words of this year’s festival, to “see the world on film.”

More information on ticketing and all the festival films can be found at www.ajff.org

Here’s what’s in the AJFF spotlight this year:

Opening night:  Shoelaces” is a moving and thoughtful Israeli film about Reuven, an aging Jerusalem garage owner who has abandoned his special-needs son for years, but is forced to look after him after Reuven’s mother dies.  But in a thought-provoking reversal, it is the older man who needs attention when he experiences a life-threatening medical condition and is forced to turn to his son for help — the shoelaces that tie them together.

Still from the mouth-watering closer about Jewish food in “Chewdaism: A Taste of Jewish Montreal.”

Closing Night: “Chewda-ism: A Taste of Jewish Montreal,” — Two Montreal natives, Jamie Elman and Eli Batalion return home to spend a day eating their way through a series of iconic Jewish restaurants. Along the way, they explore their own confused relationship with the city of their birth and discover the history of a city they had once left behind. The AJFF audience on closing night will have its own encounter with Jewish food after the evening’s screening.

Scheduled for Young Professionals Night, “Leona” is a film from Mexico that offers a rare exploration of the Jewish culture of that country.

Young Professionals Night: “Leona” is a North American premier presented by American Jewish Committee’s Access division. This film from Mexico offers a rare exploration of the Jewish culture of the country. The film is seen through the eyes of a young Jewish woman who falls for a non-Jewish guy and incurs the wrath of her family. In the end, she discovers more than romance; she experiences a new sense of self. Leona is played by actress Naian Gonzalez Norvind, who helped write the screenplay and who won best actress at the Morelia International Film Festival for her performance.

“The Frisco Kid” is one of the four classic films being revisited this year, starring Harrison Ford and Gene Wilder who crosses the Wild West on his way to start a synagogue in San Francisco.

Classics return: “The Frisco Kid”—One of the four classic films the AJFF is revisiting this year. Gene Wilder and a young Harrison Ford star in this 40th anniversary screening of the comic western that has Wilder as a Polish immigrant rabbi crossing the Wild West on his way to start a synagogue in San Francisco. Ford is his guide and protector. Other classic screenings are “Gloomy Sunday,” a German film from 1999, “Enemies, A Love Story,” the 1989 Paul Mazursky movie and “The City Without Jews,” a 1924 silent from Austria that was tragically prophetic.

AJFF Film Schedule Revealed: 

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