35th Annual Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival Begins March 20

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35th Annual Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival Begins March 20

The 35th Annual Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival - the third longest running festival of its kind in North America - will present 11 award-winning and critically acclaimed films from around the world including Israel, Hungary, Mexico, Argentina, Germany and the United States.

"The Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival has always striven to provide the community with top-notch films that portray the Jewish experience. Jewish identity remains one of the focal points in our film selections. The current lineup is replete with diverse examples," says festival chair Michael Silverman. In the film City of Joel, an Ultra-Orthodox sect tries to establish and build its own community in Orange County, New York in spite of local opposition. Crescendo, shares the story of a musical director who unites Palestinian and Israeli youths in an orchestra for peace. Leona and The Other Story feature young women who choose to boldly break with the traditions of their upbringing. All express universal Jewish courage and ambitions.

The Opening Night Film, Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles, a documentary telling the background story of the musical Fiddler on the Roof will have a single screening during the Festival. Since its opening on Broadway in 1964, Fiddler has become an international sensation with an impact that goes well beyond the stage musical. "This film, which had limited release in theaters last year, brilliantly captures the origins of the play and how it has resonated not only as a Jewish story but as a timeless cross-cultural saga of tradition, persecution, survival and renewal" said Rick Kollins a member of the Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival Committee.

Special features of the festival include a guest speaker prior to the Sunday, March 22, 6pm screening of the film Those Who Remained, a poignant story of the psychological impact on Jews who survived the Holocaust in Hungary only to face new tyranny under Soviet rule. Annamaria Ivacson, a J.D. from Hungary and graduate student at Niagara University will introduce the film and provide an overview of contemporary Jewish life in Hungary and how her country is preserving the legacy of the Holocaust.

Festival Sponsor, Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo, will present a panel discussion following the Monday, March 23, 6pm screening of Witness Theatre, a documentary film about a program that brings high school students and Holocaust survivors together to share testimonies. Panelists will include Sophia Veffer a Holocaust Survivor who continues to speak and educate actively throughout the Community, Dr. William Lin a 2nd Generation Survivor, and Dr. Nurit Fischer-Shemer a 3rd Generation Survivor.

The Festival will close Thursday, March 26 at 8pm with a screening of the film The Spy Behind Home Plate, which shares one of the most intriguing stories of Jewish-American hero, Moe Berg, a Major League Baseball player who led a double life and contributed to the Allied war effort in World War II by serving as a spy for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), predecessor of the Central Intelligence Service (CIA). In conjunction with this screening, Charles Novogrodsky, a researcher on Jews in baseball will introduce the film.

A fundraising kickoff dinner will be held on Sunday, March 15, at 6 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center Benderson Family Building, 2640 North Forest Road in Getzville. The event will include dinner catered by Buffalo Kosher Gourmet, live music and entertainment, spotlights on special events during the festival, giveaways and more. Each guest will also receive a ticket for the opening night screening of Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles. Tickets are $50.

The following films will be included during the festival, March 20-26, 2020:

CHALLAH RISING IN THE DESERT: THE JEWS OF NEW MEXICO

Braided Challah bread represents five waves of settlement of New Mexico's Jewish community including Conversos escaping the Spanish Inquisition 400 years ago, German Jewish pioneers of the Santa Fe Trail in the 1800s, scientists of the 1940s at Los Alamos and the counterculture of the 1960s. Challah Rising is a moving tapestry of the Jewish experience woven into New Mexico's unique history and landscape.

Director: Isaac Artenstein/Paula Schwartz
Country: United States
Year: 2018
Duration: 84min
Language: English
Genre: Documentary
Rating: PG

Showings: Tues, March 24 | 1:00 pm, Thurs, March 26 | 3:30 pm

CITY OF JOEL

Just 50 miles north of New York City, the ultra-Orthodox Satmar sect has built Kiryas Joel as a religious haven where they can be fruitful, multiply and follow the 613 rules of the Talmud. But with some of the highest birth rates in the country, they have been almost too successful. Developers have come up with a plan to double the size of the village to keep up with this growth, but their neighbors fight back because they believe it will harm the environment and tilt the balance of political power. In the tradition of rigorous observational documentaries, the people on all sides of a conflict - from religious zealots to dissidents, are presented.

Director: Jesse Sweet
Country: United States
Year: 2018
Duration: 90min
Language: English
Genre: Documentary
Rating: PG
Showings: Sunday, March 22 | 1:00 pm, Tues, March 24 | 3:00 pm

CRESCENDO

Does music have the power to overcome ignorance, hate, and prejudice among young people of different religions and nationalities? A world famous conductor tries to create an Israeli-Palestinian youth orchestra. It takes all his skill and resources to overcome the discord and get them to play in harmony, rising to a tense and emotional finale.

Director: Dror Zahavi
Country: Germany
Year: 2019
Duration: 110min
Language: German
Genre: Drama
Rating: PG

Showings: Sunday, March 22 | 3:00 pm, Mon, March 23 | 8:00 pm

FIDDLER: MIRACLE OF MIRACLES

Opening Night - Single Screening - Once Chance only!

The origin story behind one of Broadway's most beloved musicals, Fiddler on The Roof, and its creative roots in early 1960s New York, when "tradition" was on the wane as gender roles, sexuality, race relations and religion were evolving.

Director: Max Lewkowicz
Country: United States
Year: 2019
Duration: 98min
Language: English
Genre: Documentary
Rating: PG-13

Showing: Sat, March 21 | 8:30 pm

LEONA

A young woman from Mexico City finds herself torn between her Syrian-Jewish family and a forbidden love in this moving, insightful romance. The protagonist must weigh her unsanctioned relationship against rejection by her family and community, where religious values and traditions run deep.

Director: Isaac Cherem
Country: Mexico
Year: 2018
Duration: 94min
Language: Spanish
Genre: Drama
Rating: R

Showings: Tues, March 24 | 8:00 pm, Wed, March 25 | 6:00 pm

THE OTHER STORY

Strong female protagonists have been the mainstay of many Avi Nesher films. In 'The Other Story', two rebellious young women - one fleeing the chaos of secular hedonism for the disciplined comforts of faith; the other desperate to transcend her oppressive religious upbringing for sexual and spiritual freedom-cross paths unexpectedly in Jerusalem, to startling consequences.

Director: Avi Nesher
Country: Israel
Year: 2018
Duration: 112min
Language: Hebrew
Genre: Drama
Rating: PG-13

Showings: Mon, March 23 | 1:00 pm, Wed, March 25 | 8:00 pm

SHOE LACES

Tells the story of a complicated relationship between an aging father and his special-needs son, whom he abandoned while he was still a young boy. Reuben's kidneys are failing and his son, Gadi , wants to donate one of his own kidneys to help save his father's life. However, the transplant committee objects to the procedure. Gadi, who recently lost his mother, is afraid of losing his father as well. He feels he finally has the chance to do something meaningful; to become a man and stand on his own.

Director: Jacob Goldwasser
Country: Israel
Year: 2018
Duration: 102min
Language: Hebrew
Genre: Drama
Rating: PG

Showings: Sun, March 22 | 8:00 pm, Wed, March 25 | 3:00 pm

THE SPY BEHIND HOME PLATE

A biopic of Moe Berg, the enigmatic, intellectually curious Princeton educated Jewish catcher during baseball's Golden Age who joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) to spy for the U.S. on the Nazis' atomic bomb program.

Director: Aviva Kempner
Country: United States
Year: 2019
Duration: 101min
Language: English
Genre: Documentary
Rating: PG

Showings: Mon, March 23 | 3:00 pm, Thurs, March 26 | 8:00 pm

THOSE WHO REMAINED

A lyrical story of the healing power of love in the midst of national conflict, loss and trauma, Those Who Remained reveals the healing process of Holocaust survivors through the eyes of a young girl in post-World War II Hungary.

Director: Barnabas Toth
Country: Hungary
Year: 2019
Duration: 84min
Language: Hungarian
Genre: Drama
Rating: PG-13

Showings: Sun, March 22 | 6:00 pm, Thurs, March 26 | 6:00 pm

THE LAST SUIT (EL ULTIMO TRAJE )

Abraham Bursztein, an 88 year-old Jewish tailor, runs away from Buenos Aires to Poland, where he proposes to find a friend who saved him from certain death at the end of World War II. After seven decades without any contact with him, Abraham is determined to keep his promise to return one day. Comedic and poignant in equal measure, The Last Suit approaches its weighty themes with a light touch that illuminates a serious story.

Director: Pablo Solarz
Country: Argentina
Year: 2017
Duration: 93min
Language: Spanish
Genre: Drama
Rating: PG

Showings: Fri, March 20 | 3:30 pm, Tues, March 24 | 6:00 pm

WITNESS THEATER

High school students reenact Holocaust survivors' touching stories of resolve, in Witness Theatre, a unique program of staged testimonies. Seeking to transmit these accounts to the next generation, a New York drama therapist gets survivors and teens together to chronicle history, one generation to another. Their blossoming friendship culminates in a joint performance, keeping history alive through theatrical storytelling.

Director: Oren Rudavsky
Country: United States
Year: 2018
Duration: 74min
Language: English
Genre: Documentary
Rating: PG

Showings: Mon, March 23 | 6:00 pm, Wed, March 25 | 1:00 pm

Tickets and passes may be purchased in advance at either JCC member services desk, www.bijff.com or at the theatre door ½ hour prior to each film.


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