Elliot Fix, Curator

WEEK ONE: June 23 - 29: Sunday/Wednesday: Itzhak

Documentary. USA, Israel, 2017. 83 mins. English, Hebrew with subtitles

An audience favorite film examines the life and glorious music of Israeli-born Itzhak Perlman, widely considered the greatest living violinist. Itzhak overcomes obstacles of childhood polio and life struggles with humor and talent. Conversations with masterful musicians, family and friends, and his devoted wife, Toby, give us an intimate view of this extraordinary artist.  His home life warmly embraces his Jewish heritage. Archival material and performance clips compliment this enchanting documentary.

WEEK TWO: June 30 - July 6: 93Queen

Documentary. USA. 2018. 85 mins. English, Hebrew, Yiddish

A real crowd pleaser tells an inspiring story of how a group of tenacious ultra-Orthodox women create New York’s first all-female ambulance corps in keeping with their religious sense of modesty.  Led by Rachel Freier, a practicing attorney and mother of six, other Hassidic women are enlisted. An uphill battle results that challenges the gender roles held by the observant men in their Borough Park enclave in Brooklyn.  Orthodox filmmaker Paula Eiselt had exclusive access to her subject which gives us a rousing story of female empowerment.

WEEK THREE: July 7 - 13: Heading Home

Documentary. USA, 2017. 86 mins. English

A feel-good stirring story of sports and personal growth.  Film follows
the underdog journey of Israel’s national baseball team competing for the first time in  the  prestigious World Baseball Classic.   Team Israel finally ranks among the world’s best in 2017, eligible to play in the international tournament. Their line up included several Jewish American Major League players –Ike Davis, Josh Zeid, and Ryan Lavarnway.  Most have a tenuous relationship with Judaism and have never been to Israel.  But after much soul-searching, the team discovers the pride of representing Israel on the world stage.

WEEK FOUR: July 14 - 20: The Cakemaker

Narrative.  Israel, Germany, 2017.  105 mins.  German, Hebrew with subtitles.

This tender, compassionate drama about a closeted love affair explores the connection formed between a German pastry chef and the Israeli widow of the man they both loved.  The chef seeks solace and takes a job in the struggling Jerusalem café run by his lover’s widow. The bereaved pair forges a bond that blurs lines of nationality, religion and sexuality. The Cakemaker has won significant film awards.

WEEK FIVE: July 21 - 27: Bag of Marbles

Narrative.  Canada, Czech Republic, France, 2017. 108 mins. French, German, Russian, Yiddish with subtitles.

This suspenseful and heartwarming adaptation of a true story has been an audience favorite at several film festivals.  An ensemble of outstanding performances follows the escape and journey of two Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied France.  In 1941 Paris, young Joseph and Maurice are forced to flee their home and make their way south to the demilitarized zone.  The boys must overcome extraordinary odds to avoid capture in hopes of one day reuniting with their family. More than anything, it’s their brotherly bond that gets them through their ordeals.

WEEK SIX: July 28 - August 3: An Act of Defiance

Narrative.  South Africa, Netherlands, 2018. 123 mins. English, Afrikaans with subtitles.

A historical thriller set in South Africa’s incendiary apartheid era.  This is the true story of how the sympathetic white Jewish lawyer, Bram  Fischer defends Nelson Mandela and nine other resistance leaders, including Jewish anti-apartheid fighters after their arrest during a summer 1963 raid.  Facing a possible death sentence for the nine men,  Fisher fights to expose South Africa’s corrupt, unjust system while hiding his own ties to the resistance.   The political and courtroom intrigue pays tribute to the legendary figures who fought to end entrenched discrimination in their country.


WEEK SEVEN: August 4 - 10: Double Feature:

The Twinning Reaction: Documentary. USA, 2017. 55 mins. English

The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm:  Documentary. USA, 2017.  19 mins.  English

The Twinning Reaction is a deeply troubling expose of the unscrupulous Neubauer-Bernard  1960’s study of “nature vs. nurture”.  Jewish twins and triplets in one case, who were given up for adoption, were deliberately placed in separate homes and neither they nor their adoptive parents were told about the other sibling. The long –term effects of the study on the children were dramatic and heartbreaking.  Reunited siblings at last understand why they always felt “something missing” from their lives.
The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm is an endearing film featuring 10- year old Elliott Saiontz and his 90-year-old great grandfather, Rochesterian Jack Feldman. When Elliott asks Jack about the number tattooed on his arm, he sparks an intimate conversation which will warm your heart.  Produced by HBO.

WEEK EIGHT: August 11-17: The Last Suit

Narrative.  Spain, Argentina, 2017. 86 mins. Spanish, German, Polish, Yiddish with subtitles.

Abraham Bursztein is an 88 year-old Holocaust survivor who refuses to bow to pressure from his adult children to move into a retirement home in Buenos Aires.  Instead he plots a secret one-way trip to Poland to find the friend who saved him from certain death at the end of WWII.  This was a promise he is determined to fulfill. Assisted by a cast of kindly strangers, the sharply-dressed suitmaker travels by train across Europe from Spain to Poland in search of his friend. This heartfelt and charming tale demonstrates the importance of family, friends and honor.  The film features an extraordinary performance by prolific Argentine actor, Miguel Angel Sola.

WEEK NINE: August 18 - 25: Body and Soul: An American Bridge

Documentary.  USA, 2017. 58 mins. English

The story of one of the most popular songs in the jazz repertoire, Body and Soul:  An American Bridge,  illustrates the complex musical interplay between Jewish and African-American cultures. The Great American Songbook includes many standards from Jewish composers and inducted into the jazz canon by black musicians.  The enduring 1930’s tune “Body and Soul” was composed by Jewish songwriter Johnny Green and first recorded as a jazz piece by Louis Armstrong.  The song is  a link to both Jewish and African-American cultures, with both sides borrowing and learning from and complementing the other.  Interviews with experts and historians combine with rare archival footage and brilliant performances by jazz greats , tell the narrative of this ageless musical gift.   Winner of the Best Music Documentary Award at the San Francisco Black Film Festival, the screening coincides with the Jazz and Race and Culture theme of Week Nine.  The film is a tribute to the power of song to break down barriers and unite peoples.