12th Annual Columbus Jewish Film Festival Breaks New Ground

Twelve years ago the Columbus Jewish Film Festival debuted with showings of five films at three venues. This year, Nov. 6-20, the 12th Annual Columbus Jewish Film Festival embarks on a new milestone, showing 12 films which feature the best in international and independent film at five venues around Columbus.

Co-Chairs (1)“[This year] we expanded access and audiences with a new venue that will offer a unique movie-going experience,” says Festival Co-Chair Carol Handler. “We are proud to announced that Opening Night will be at the McCoy Center for the Arts in New Albany.”

Handler has been involved with the festival for six years and this is her second year as Co-Chair. “The [Film Festival] has continued to grow every year because of our film selection, diversity and increased marketing efforts… Our film line-up, speakers, and venues are new and exciting.”

The festival kicks off Nov. 6 at 6:30 p.m. with a screening of “The Origin of Violence” and a special reception afterwards at the McCoy Center for the Arts. Adapted from Frabrice Humbert’s semi-autobiographical, prize-winning novel of the same name, “The Origin of Violence” tells the story of a teacher who discovers dark family secrets while working on his thesis about the French Resistance during World War II.

Film Festival Director Emily Schuss, Co-Chairs Carol Handler and Sandy Meizlish, and the Steering Committee have worked on selecting films since last December. The selection features producers and directors from many countries, including the United States, Israel, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Each film provides a unique window into Jewish themes and values, exploring Jewish identity and presenting the richness of Jewish culture.

However, the films are far from exclusive to Jewish audiences. According to Handler, each year the festival embraces more diversity in order to explore different aspects of Jewish life and connect to other communities on a universal level.

“By pushing the boundaries of what is considered ‘Jewish’ and taking the Festival outside the walls of Jewish institutions, the Festival opens a window that invites sharing in the Jewish experience,” says Handler. “The film festival offers, among other things, a temporary common ground where community members interested in experiencing Jewish culture through film can learn, be inspired, and enjoy being together.”

Challenging and sometimes controversial content is another common theme among the film selection. Anti-Semitism, abortion, mental illness, homosexuality, and terrorism are boldly addressed in many of the films, ensuring a thought-provoking experience at any of the Film Festival’s events.

“It would be easy to show fun and lighthearted films,” explains Schuss, “But our audience demands more than that.  There are so many important issues in the world today, especially within the Jewish community, and watching a film is a great way to discuss and engage with others.”

Many films are accompanied with the filmmakers, directors, producers, panel discussions and other guest speakers. In addition to the Opening Night reception, screenings on Nov. 17 and 20 include an optional meal.

Find more information and purchase individual tickets online at columbusjcc.org. “Reel Passes” which include access to the entire Festival can be purchased by contacting Emily Schuss at 614-559-6205 or eschuss@columbusjcc.org.

The Columbus Jewish Film Festival is underwritten by the Lenore Schottenstein & Community Jewish Arts Fund of the Columbus Jewish Foundation.