The Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival Goes Virtual

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The Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival Goes Virtual

The Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival, now in its 35th year, intends to follow the path of many other venerable film festivals in this time of the pandemic by going virtual.

Originally scheduled to be screened at the Amherst Dipson Theatre from March 20 - 26, the Festival plans to have its 11 films made available to the public at home by streaming them starting August 1st, and continuing until August 21st.

In conjunction with the films' distributors, from whom the Festival has gained viewing rights, people in the Buffalo area, and beyond, can watch any or all the scheduled films at home by purchasing tickets through the Festival's website www.bijff.com.

Anyone who purchased a flex pass or individual tickets previously will have those purchases honored. Single tickets, good for household viewing, will still be $10, and flex passes will enable the buyer to watch 6 films for $50. A New ALL ACCESS pass for all 11 films costs $75.

Films will be available for streaming for 72-hour "window" periods. Virtual ticket holders will receive an email with a unique link with instructions to access the films by password. Patrons will need an email address and reliable internet to participate in the virtual film festival. Films can be streamed onto a TV with a "smart" device or adaptor (e.g., Apple TV), a desktop or laptop computer, tablet, or even a smart phone.

Links for each individual film will arrive about two hours before the time scheduled for the viewing window to open.

In addition to films, the Festival will include speakers on "Tuesday Talkbacks" in conjunction with 3 of the films. Any ticket holders can participate interactively with the speakers through ZOOM conferencing and will receive a zoom invite with the film link. In order to participate, people must first register with JCC Cultural Arts Director Katie Wzontek at kwzontek@jccbuffalo.org.

The following films will be included in the Virtual Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival, Aug 1- 21, 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

Screening Window: Tuesday, August 11 | 6:00 PM (EDT) - Friday, August 14 | 6:00 PM (EDT)

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
Screening Window: Tuesday, August 4 | 6:00 pm EDT - Friday, August 7| 6:00 pm EDT

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

Screening Window: Tuesday, August 4 | 6:00 pm EDT - Friday, August 7| 6:00 pm EDT

FIDDLER: MIRACLE OF MIRACLES

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

Screening Window: Saturday, August 1 | 6:00 pm EDT - Tuesday, August 4 | 6:00 pm EDT

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

Screening Window: Saturday, August 8 | 6:00 pm EDT - Tuesday, August 11 | 6:00 pm EDT

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

Screening Window: Tuesday, August 18 | 6:00 PM (EDT) - Friday, August 21 | 6:00 PM (EDT)

SHOELACES

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

Screening Window: Saturday, August 15 | 6:00 PM (EDT) - Tuesday, August 18 | 6:00 PM (EDT)

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

Screening Window: Saturday, August 15 | 6:00 PM (EDT) - Tuesday, August 18 | 6:00 PM (EDT)

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

Screening Window: Saturday, August 8 | 6:00 pm EDT - Tuesday, August 11 | 6:00 pm EDT

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

Screening Window: Tuesday, August 11 | 6:00 PM (EDT) - Friday, August 14 | 6:00 PM (EDT)

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

Screening Window: Saturday, August 1 | 6:00 pm EDT - Tuesday, August 4 | 6:00 pm EDT

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the BIJFF


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