11th Annual Columbus Jewish Film Festival Opens on November 1

The 2015 Columbus Jewish Film Festival opens on Sunday, November 1 at 7 pm with Once in a Lifetime, a film based on the true story of Anne Gueguen, a French high school history teacher who changed the lives of her most troubled students through Holocaust education. The opening night presentation will take place at The Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus located at 1125 College Ave.  Tickets to the first film of the festival, which includes a celebratory dessert reception, cost $35. Tickets to all other films cost $10/JCC members and seniors; $12/non-members. Unless otherwise noted, all tickets cost $12 at the door.

On Monday, November 2 at 7pm at the JCC, a just announced special “Pop-Up Movie”, Band of Bowlers, by Columbusnative, Ryan Vesler, will be shown.  Band of Bowlers is a short film about the I. M. Harris B’nai B’rith Bowling League that was formed almost 85 years ago and is one of the oldest leagues in Columbus Ohio.  It’s a story about the diverse group of men, from countless numbers of occupations, 24 to 85 years of age, some of who have bowled together in this league continuously for more than 55 years.  A dessert reception will follow the movie.  Tickets for Band of Bowlers are available online at www.columbusjcc.org.

The festival continues on Tuesday, November 3 at 7 pm at the JCC on College Avenue with Above and Beyond. The film, set in 1948, tells the story of a ragtag band of Jewish American pilots who answered a call for help for Israel. In secret and at great personal risk, they smuggled planes out of the U.S., trained behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia and flew for Israel in its War of Independence. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Producer Nancy Spielberg and a dessert reception and is presented in partnership with Capital Post 122, Jewish War Veterans of the US, Beth Jacob Congregation and Congregation Torat Emet.

The Drexel Theatre will host the screening of A Borrowed Identity on Wednesday, November 4 at 7 pm. The “based on a true story” theme of this year’s festival continues with this adaptation of Sayed Kashua’s popular semi-autobiographical novel, Dancing Arabs. The film is a coming of age story set in an Israel resonant with contemporary cultural unrest.  Palestinian-Israeli boy Eyad is given the chance to attend a prestigious Jewish boarding school in Jerusalem. With the assistance of his loyal best friend and secret Jewish girlfriend, Eyad learns the small yet crucial ways to assimilate into an antagonistic culture and distinguishes himself in the classroom by bringing his unique cultural perspective to the classroom.

DOC SUNDAY, an annual tradition of the festival, again takes place at the Drexel Theatre with four documentary features beginning with Look At Us Now, Mother, at 11:30 am. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Director Gayle Kirschenbaum, who will answer questions about her moving, intimate, courageous yet humorous film examining the transformation of a tumultuous mother-daughter relationship to that of acceptance and love.

The Armor of Light follows on DOC SUNDAY at 2:30 pm at the Drexel, with Abigail Disney’s directorial debut, which follows the journey of Evangelical minister, Rob Schenck, who finds the courage to preach about the toll of gun violence in America. Familiar with challenging the status quo (he was raised Jewish but became an evangelical as a teenager), Schenck, an anti-abortion activist and fixture on the political far right, breaks with orthodoxy by questioning whether being pro-gun is consistent with being pro-life. It isn’t an overreach when Schenck notes parallels between increasing pro-gun extremism, rising gun violence and the Holocaust.  As his father once told him, pointing to pictures of the camps, “This is what happens when good people say nothing.”

East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem, a documentary told in Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles, will continue DOC SUNDAY at the Drexel at 4:30 pm. The film follows singer/songwriter David Broza and his musician friends over an eight-day period where they converge in a mash up of American, Israeli and Palestinian sounds.  They build musical bridges with Broza’s charismatic and energetic performances and his will to have a political impact by the simple act of bring together artists from opposing sides.

Lady In Number 6 concludes DOC SUNDAY at 7 pm, this time with a location change to the JCC on College Avenue. The FREE short film follows 109-year-old pianist and music teacher, Alice Herz-Sommer, who, with clear-eyed coherence and relentlessly optimistic wit, speaks with quiet grace and an astounding absence of malice, about the importance of music and laughter in the aftermath of her own painful loss. As a survivor of Nazi-occupied Prague during WWII, she holds onto her belief in the essential goodness of humanity. A Kristallnacht Commemoration discussion and dessert reception will follow the screening, presented in partnership with The Jewish Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Columbus. Audiences are asked to reserve their FREE tickets in advance by contacting Sue Vail at svail@columbusjcc.org or 614-559-6212.

The festival continues on November 10 with Little White Lie. Director Lacey Schwartz will join audiences at the screening at 7 pm at the Wexner Center for the Arts, to discuss how she explored questions of identity in her autobiographical film. This is Schwartz’s own story of growing up in a loving Jewish household but with nagging doubts about her own origins. At age 18, after her parents’ abrupt split, Schwartz finally decides to confront her mother and learns the startling truth about her genesis. A dessert reception will follow the screening and the Q&A discussion with the director. Presented in partnership with The Leventhal Artists Program, The Columbus Jewish Foundation, The Ohio State University’s Hillel, Film Studies Program and The Wexner Center for the Arts, tickets to the event cost $5 for JCC/Wexner members and students and $ 10 for nonmembers.

Two films will showcase at the Drexel Theatre on November 12, with a $10 kosher boxed dinner available for purchase (by pre-paid reservation) between the screenings. Apples From The Desert, a film told in Hebrew with English subtitles, will begin at 6 pm. Apples From The Desert is an adaptation of the award-winning Israeli play that explores the themes of love and reconciliation in the story of Rebecca Abravanel, an only child living a cloistered existence with her ultra-Orthodox Jewish family in Jerusalem. To Life!, a German film with English subtitles, will follow Apples from the Desert, at 8 pm at the Drexel. The story of redemption follows Jonas, a young man on the run, as he arrives in Berlin just in time to save Ruth’s life.

The festival will conclude on Sunday, November 15, with two films, God’s Slave at 5 pm and Dough at 8 pm, with a New York-style deli dinner between the screenings.   Dinner reservations are required by November 7.  God’s Slave, based on the actual events of a 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires, is a tense political thriller following Ahmed, a trained Islamic terrorist, and David, the determined, embittered Israeli Mossad agent who will stop at nothing to prevent the attack. Dough is a warmhearted and gently humorous story about overcoming prejudice and finding redemption in unexpected places and set in London’s East End.

To learn more about the Columbus Jewish Film Festival or to order tickets, visit www.cjfilmfest.org or contact Emily Schuss at eschuss@columbusjcc.org or 614-559-6205.

The Columbus Jewish Film Festival is a program of The Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus, and underwritten by the Lenore Schottenstein and Community Jewish Arts Fund of the Columbus Jewish Foundation.