by Mary Sue Grossman, Program Coordinator, The Center for Jewish Life
The 13th Annual Jewish Omaha Film Festival begins Sunday, Aug. 10 with four movies being shown throughout the month. All films will be shown in the JCC Theater and the ticket cost is $8 per person.
Opening the festival on the Aug. 10 at 7 p.m. is Fill the Void. This 2013 award-winning Israeli drama centers around 18-year-old Shira, the youngest daughter of a Hassidic family from Tel Aviv. She is about to be married in a dream-come-true scenario. Tragically, on Purim, her 28-year-old sister dies while giving birth to her first child. The family’s pain and grief postpone Shira’s promised match. When Shira’s widowed brother-in-law considers a new match which would move him and his infant son out of Israel, the girls’ mother proposes a match between Shira and the widower. Shira then has to choose between her heart’s desire and her family duty. Following the film, a discussion will be led by Dr. Guy Matalon, who now resides in an Orthodox community in Israel. (Israel, 2013, 90 minutes, Hebrew with English subtitles)
The Zigzag Kid is the featured film for Sunday, Aug. 17, and has been a darling of many other festivals, winning a number of awards. The film, based on the beloved novel of David Grossman, is a witty, spirited and action-packed adventure about Nono and his world of confusions, fears and fantasies. Nono longs to be a good detective like his father, a famous police inspector, but he is constantly in trouble. Two days before his bar mitzvah, Nono is sent off to his uncle’s to be disciplined yet again. Once on the train, the over-imaginative boy discovers one last chance to prove himself. Together with charming international thief Felix Glick, an old acquaintance of his father, he travels to the French Riviera and enters a world of disguises and crazy pursuits, crossing paths with a famous singer played by Isabella Rossellini and Zohara, a mysterious woman whose secrets will forever change Nono’s life. Immediately after the movie, Assaf Gavron, the new Schusterman Scholar for the Schwalb Center at UNO, will speak briefly. Assaf, an Israeli novelist, will talk about his acquaintance with David Grossman. Plan to come at 5:30 p.m. for dinner as well! A casual dinner featuring hot dogs, hamburgers, coleslaw, chips, cookies and beverages will begin at 5:30 p.m. Thanks to the generosity of the Klutznick Fund in Jewish Civilization at Creighton University, dinner and the film are free for those under the age of 13 and adult meals are $10 per person. (Netherlands, 2012, 95 minutes, Dutch/French/English with English subtitles)
A French comedy, Rue Mandar – Where We Grew Up will be shown on Wednesday, Aug. 20. The film begins with a traditional Jewish funeral whose rituals no one can quite recall. Then add a Yiddishkeit setting in a mostly Sephardic Jewish community and three French/Jewish siblings brought together after years of separation. This family dramedy finds Charles, Rosemonde and Emma, after reuniting for their mother’s funeral, soon squabbling about religious tradition, each other and what to do with their parents’ apartment at 13 rue Mandar. Charles summons a crew of Polish workers to redecorate his own apartment without consulting his long-suffering wife. Psychoanalyst Rosemonde barely pays attention during patient sessions as she obsesses over her faltering marriage and her son, who is now studying in New York. Scatterbrained Emma, a Tel Aviv translator, ends up efficiently cleaning out her mother’s apartment. Her “mourning special” giveaway of its contents on the Paris sidewalk below, leads to a chance encounter with Simon, the son of previous owners of the flat. (France, 2013, 95 minutes French with English subtitles)
The final film of the festival, on Aug. 24, is a comedy/drama entitled Magic Men. Avraham is a magician and Holocaust survivor who, during a return to Greece, tries to find a man who sheltered him during World War II. He wants to travel alone but he is forced to travel with his son, Yehuda, a devout Hassidic rapper. While Avraham is contemptuous of his son’s observance, Yehuda is not the typical Orthodox and doesn’t conform to the stereotypes. An interesting encounter with Maria, a Greek prostitute who is quite complex and engaging, leads to her involvement in the search. Yehuda joins in as well and the trio work together in Avraham’s quest. Absurd encounters interspersed with periods of magic performances lead Avraham and Yehuda to a final test as father and son. (Israel, 2014, 100 minutes, Greek, Hebrew, English with English subtitles)
Films will be shown in the JCC Theater beginning at 7 p.m. with the exception of The Zigzag Kid which begins at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 per person and may be purchased at the door. Dinner reservations for Aug. 17 must be made by the 14th by calling 402.334.6463 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks to Nancy Skid, Eunice Denenberg, Renee Kasner and Jill Erman for their work in selecting this year’s films.
The Jewish Film Festival is presented by The Center for Jewish Life as part of its mission to maximize involvement of Omaha’s Jewish community in imaginative, compelling and meaningful Jewish experiences. The Film Festival is generously sponsored by the Todd and Betiana Simon Foundation and the Klutznick Fund for Jewish Civilization at Creighton University. Additional support is provided from the Henry Monsky Lodge of B’nai B’rith and the Avy L. and Roberta L. Miller Foundation by Lindsey Miller-Lerman. For more information please call 402.334.6463.