The Jewish Museum And The Film Society Of Lincoln Center Present 28th Annual New York Jewish Film Festival
The Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center will present the 28th annual New York Jewish Film Festival (NYJFF), January 9-22, 2019. Among the oldest and most influential Jewish film festivals worldwide, the NYJFF each year presents the finest documentary, narrative, and short films from around the world that explore the diverse Jewish experience. Featuring new work by fresh voices in international cinema as well as restored classics, the festival's 2019 lineup includes 32 wide-ranging and exciting features and shorts from the iconic to the iconoclastic, many of which will be screening in their world, U.S., and New York premieres. Screenings are held at the Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street, NYC.
The NYJFF opens on Wednesday, January 9, with the New York premiere of Eric Barbier's epic drama Promise at Dawn, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg and Pierre Niney. This riveting memoir chronicles the colorful life of infamous French author Romain Gary, from his childhood conning Polish high society with his mother to his years as a pilot in the Free French Air Forces.
The Closing Night film is the New York premiere of A Fortunate Man, directed by Academy Award-winner Bille August (Pelle the Conqueror). In it, a gifted but self-destructive young man leaves his suffocating Lutheran upbringing for metropolitan 1880s Copenhagen, where he's welcomed into a wealthy Jewish family and strives to realize his grand ambitions.
The Centerpiece selection represents the first time an Israeli television series has been presented at the NYJFF with the three-and-a-half-hour miniseries Autonomies, to be presented all at once, binge-style, with a 20-minute intermission. Directed by Yehonatan Indursky, the dystopian drama is set in an alternate reality of present-day Israel, a nation divided by a wall into the secular "State of Israel," with Tel Aviv as its capital, and the "Haredi Autonomy" in Jerusalem, run by an ultra-Orthodox Jewish group. A globally relevant tale of identity, religion, politics, personal freedom, and love, this gripping story follows a custody battle that upends the fragile peace of the country, pushing it to the brink of civil war. Indursky will present a master class in conjunction with the screening of Autonomies.
New to the NYJFF this year is an annual initiative that highlights a film made by a woman filmmaker that deserves broader American recognition. Maria Victoria Menis's Camera Obscura (2008) tells the story of an immigrant woman whose encounter with an itinerant photographer reveals a sense of self she never knew. The film was shot in the lush forests and lagoons of Buenos Aires province in a mélange of visual styles, including elements of hand-drawn animation, World War I archival footage, and early surrealist black-and-white films.
Filmmaker Amos Gitai returns to the 2019 NYJFF with the U.S. premiere of his thought-provoking new drama, A Tramway in Jerusalem. Gitai uses the tramway that runs through Jerusalem to connect a series of short vignettes, forming a mosaic of Jewish and Arab stories embodying life in the city.
The NYJFF will also present the U.S. premiere of Fig Tree by first-time director Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian. Set in Addis Ababa during the Ethiopian Civil War, the film concerns a young woman who plans to flee to Israel with her brother to reunite with their mother. But she is unwilling to leave her Christian boyfriend behind and hatches a scheme to save him from being drafted.
Other fiction works of note include:
-Joachim Lang's Mack the Knife-Brecht's Threepenny Film is a satirical re-creation of Bertolt Brecht's valiant effort to adapt his famed opera for the silver screen (U.S. Premiere).
-Seder Masochism, from animator Nina Paley (Sita Sings the Blues), is a playful and imaginative retelling of the Book of Exodus in musical form (N.Y. Premiere).
-Silvia Quer's The Light of Hope is based on the true story of Elisabeth Eidenbenz, who as director of the Elne maternity home in the south of France saved the lives of 600 infants during the Spanish Civil War and World War II (N.Y. Premiere).
-Ond?ej Trojan's Toman presents the life of Czech politician Zdenek Toman, an unscrupulous careerist who was also the unlikely savior of thousands of Jewish refugees after World War II (U.S. Premiere).
This year's festival also features an array of enlightening and gripping documentaries. Highlights include:
-Oren Rudavsky's Joseph Pulitzer: The Voice of the People, about the man behind the Pulitzer Prize, who spoke of "fake news" and the importance of freedom of the press over a century ago, is narrated by Adam Driver and features Liev Schreiber as the voice of Pulitzer. A later panel discussion titled "Pulitzer's World: The Role of the Media in a Fake News Universe," featuring Jami Floyd, host of All Things Considered, Adam Moss, Editor-in-Chief of New York Magazine, filmmaker Oren Rudavsky, and Jodi Rudoren, Associate Managing Editor of The New York Times, will discuss contemporary issues raised within the film. (N.Y. Premiere).
-Veronica Gonzalez Peña's Pat Steir: Artist is an intimate portrait of the groundbreaking painter and feminist (World Premiere).
-Elizabeth Rynecki's Chasing Portraits is the compelling story of the director's quest to uncover the fate of her great-grandfather's paintings, dispersed after the Holocaust (N.Y. Premiere).
-Mohamed and Anna: In Plain Sight is the remarkable story of an Egyptian doctor who saved a Jewish woman from the Nazis by disguising her as a Muslim, putting himself at great personal risk (U.S. Premiere).
NYJFF special programs include restorations of four films:
-Ewald Andrew Dupont's 1923 silent masterpiece The Ancient Law, featuring a new score and live accompaniment by pianist Donald Sosin and klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals. In this classic drama the son of an orthodox rabbi leaves home, against his father's wishes, to join a traveling theater troupe.
-Hans Karl Breslauer's The City Without Jews (1924), one of the few surviving Austrian Expressionist films and a chilling premonition of the Holocaust in its vision of the expulsion of the Jews of Austria, is presented with a newly recorded soundtrack (N.Y. Premiere of the Restoration).
-Samy Szlingerbaum's Brussels Transit, one of the first post-World War II films in Yiddish, masterfully weaves the story of the director's parents and footage of postwar Brussels to explore the marginality of young Holocaust survivors in Europe (U.S. Premiere of the Restoration).
-Assi Dayan's Life According to Agfa (1923), a touchstone of Israeli cinema starring the acclaimed Gila Algamour, features an assortment of Tel Aviv citizenry that gather in a bar to play out a series of bitter and ultimately tragic dramas over the course of one night (U.S. Premiere of the Restoration).
NYJFF tickets will go on sale to FSLC and Jewish Museum members on Thursday, December 20, and to the public on Thursday, December 27. Tickets may be purchased online or in person at the Film Society's Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center and Walter Reade Theater box offices, 144 & 165 West 65th Street. For complete festival information, visit NYJFF.org.
This year's New York Jewish Film Festival was selected by Rachel Chanoff, Director, THE OFFICE performing arts + film; Gabriel Grossman, Coordinator, New York Jewish Film Festival/The Jewish Museum; Miriam Niedergang, short film curatorial consultant; and Aviva Weintraub, Associate Curator, The Jewish Museum and Director, New York Jewish Film Festival; with Dennis Lim, Director of Programming, Film Society of Lincoln Center, as adviser.
The New York Jewish Film Festival is made possible by the Martin and Doris Payson Fund for Film and Media.
Generous support is also provided by Wendy Fisher and Dennis Goodman, Sara and Axel Schupf, The Liman Foundation, Louise and Frank Ring, an anonymous gift, the Ike, Molly and Steven Elias Foundation, Amy and Howard Rubenstein, Robin and Danny Greenspun, Steven and Sheira Schacter, and through public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with City Council.
Additional support is provided by Office of Cultural Affairs - Consulate General of Israel in New York, the German Consulate General New York, Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, the Polish Cultural Institute New York, and Czech Center New York.
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