Donald M. Ephraim Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival To Showcase 35 Movies
The upcoming 28th annual The Donald M. Ephraim Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival will present movies from around the world, opening with BODY AND SOUL: An American Bridge, focusing on the early performance history and cross-cultural impact of the jazz standard by Jewish composer Johnny Green.
Between January 18-February 11, the Festival will present a total of 35 memorable, audience-satisfying movies at six different cinemas throughout Palm Beach County, including:
- January 20-26: Cinemark Palace 20 in Boca Raton
- January 22-26: AMC CityPlace 20 in West Palm Beach
- January 27-February 3: PGA Arts Center in Palm Beach Gardens
- January 28-February 2: Cobb Theatres in Palm Beach Gardens
- February 5-8: CMX Cinemas (formerly Paragon Theaters) in Wellington
- February 4-10: Frank Theatres in Delray Beach
Presented by the Mandel Jewish Community Center of the Palm Beaches, the Film Festival will close with a matinee screening of DREAMING OF A JEWISH CHRISTMAS and awards presentation, also at CityPlace 20 in West Palm Beach.
"The 35 different films chosen to be shown at The Donald M. Ephraim Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival 2018 represent a variety of different genres and come from all over the world," says Festival Director Ellen Wedner. "They are extraordinarily diverse and very engaging; you don't have to be Jewish to be thoroughly entertained and enthralled, you just have to appreciate and enjoy good films."
Following is the celebrated films that are scheduled to be shown at the Donald M. Ephraim Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival 2018:
+ 1945, from Hungary - Palm Beach Premiere
On a summer day in 1945, an Orthodox man and his grown son return to a village in Hungary while the villagers are preparing for the wedding of the town clerk's son. The townspeople - suspicious, remorseful, fearful, and cunning - expect the worst and behave accordingly. The town clerk fears the men may be heirs of the village's deported Jews and expects them to demand their illegally acquired property back. Variety calls it, "A fresh, intelligent and cinematic approach to a difficult topic that takes on a transitional time in Hungarian history with subtlety and nuance."
Awards: Yad Vashem Chairman's Award Jerusalem International Film Festival, Audience Awards at Budapest Titanic Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, and Jewish Film Festivals in Washington D.C., San Francisco and Miami.
(Directed by Ferenc Török; Russian with subtitles. 2017; 91-minutes)
Screenings: Cinemark 1/25, Cobb 1/28, PGA 1/29
+ ACROSS THE WATERS, from Denmark
Enjoying the nightlife of 1943 Copenhagen, jazz guitarist Arne Itkin is seemingly immune to the hardships of war, as the Danish government opts for a compliant relationship with Nazi Germany. He is initially skeptical when his terrified wife hears rumors about deportation of Danish Jews. However, an overnight raid forces the couple to flee with their five-year-old son. They set out for a fishing village where refugees await passage to Sweden by boat. Amidst lurking danger from the Gestapo and their collaborators, The Family puts its fate in the hands of strangers whose allegiance and motives are not always clear.
(Directed by Nicolo Donato; Danis with subtitles. 2017; 95-minutes)
Film Partners: Sandy & Stanley Bob at the Cobb Theatres
Screenings: Cobb 1/29, PGA 1/30, Frank 2/7, CMX 2/8
+ AN ACT OF DEFIANCE, from Israel - Palm Beach Premiere
In 1963 ten South African men, some Black and some Jewish, are arrested for conspiring to commit sabotage against the Apartheid state. Led by fellow defendant Nelson Mandela while represented by courageous lawyer Bram Fischer, the group members plead not guilty. This powerful and captivating true story captures a seminal moment in the fight against racism and explores the little-known role of South African Jews in consigning Apartheid to history.
Awards: Dutch Film Awards Best Actor & Best Screenplay, Audience Award at Mill Valley Film Festival, Movies that Matter Film Festival.
(Directed by Jean van de Velde; English & Afrikaans with subtitles. 2018, 123-minutes)
Film Partners: Clair & Richard Lesser (PGA)
Screenings: Cinemark 1/22, PGA 1/27, Frank 2/7)
+ AND THEN SHE ARRIVED, from Israel - Palm Beach Premiere
Dan Freilich is 30 and has everything he could ever hope for, and then some: the perfect job at his father's law firm, the perfect loving family and the perfect girlfriend, his high school sweetheart. In fact, his life is planned for the next 50 years. But a chance encounter with a waitress in Jerusalem makes him realize something was missing after all - true love.
(Directed by Roee Florentin; Hebrew with subtitles. 2017; 104-minutes)
Film Partners: Rubens Family Foundation (Frank)
Screenings: Cinemark 1/21, Cobb 2/1, Frank 2/4
+ AN ISRAELI LOVE STORY, from Israel - Palm Beach Premiere
Based on the true story of director and actress Pnina Gary, this is a passionate story of love and independence. Set in pre-state Palestine, Eli (Aviv Alush, The Women's Balcony) and Margalit are torn between their love for one another and where they see their own futures in the Jewish state. In the budding theatre world of Tel Aviv and the kibbutzim, Margalit finds her place in the spotlight. Eli, while planning to marry Margalit, is drawn deeper into the struggle for Jewish independence from the British.
(Directed by Dan Wolman; Hebrew with subtitles. 2016; 93-minutes)
Screenings: Cinemark 1/22, PGA 2/1, Frank 2/9
+ A QUIET HEART, from Israel
This riveting suspense thriller about the evils of religious intolerance stars Ania Bukstein (Game of Thrones) as Naomi, a secular Israeli suffering a personal crisis that threatens to derail her career as a concert pianist. Fleeing Tel Aviv, she rents an apartment in an Orthodox neighborhood. Disdain towards a secular woman soon turns to outright hostility. Faced with escalating isolation and violence, Naomi must learn to use music as a bridge to overcome towering religious barriers. The Jerusalem Post calls it, "A rewarding film, one that highlights the contradictions in the soul of the city in which it takes place."
(Directed by Eitan Anner; English, Italian, Hebrew with subtitles. 2016; 92-minutes)
Screenings: CityPlace 20 1/26, Cobb 1/28, CMX 2/9
+ BEN GURION, EPILOGUE, from Israel, France
Compiled from six hours of newly discovered conversations with Israel's founding father, the film presents a rare and fortuitous piece of history with one of modern Israel's greatest leaders, David Ben-Gurion. It is 1968 and he is 82 years old, five years before his death. Ben-Gurion's introspective soul-searching is the focus of this film, and his clear voice provides a surprising vision for today's crucial decisions and the future of Israel. The New York Times declares, "The film is, in part, a wistful ode to a lost generation of leaders who viewed simplicity as a virtue even as they strove for giant goals." The Hollywood Reporter calls it, "an invaluable historical document."
Awards: Israeli Film & TV Academy Award 2017 for Best Documentary.
(Directed by Yariv Mozer; English, Hebrew with subtitles. 2016; 61-minutes)
Screenings: Cinemark 1/25, Cobb 2/2, Frank 2/6
+ BETWEEN WORLDS, from Israel - Palm Beach Premiere
Bina arrives at the hospital after her son Ulli was severely injured in a stabbing attack. This is a complicated story, filled with passion, secrets and familial relationships gone awry.
(Directed by Miya Hatay; Hebrew, Arabic with subtitles. 2016; 84-minutes)
Screenings: Cinemark 1/23, Cobb 1/29, Frank 2/5
+ BODY AND SOUL: An American Bridge, from Canada - Florida Premiere
Out of all the cross-cultural encounters that have resulted in the richness of American popular music, none has been so prominent as that between African Americans and American Jews. This film illuminates that concept by focusing on the early performance history of the jazz standard, Body and Soul. Composed by Jewish composer Johnny Green in 1929, the song was introduced on Broadway by Jewish torch singer Libby Holman and ushered into the jazz canon by Louis Armstrong the following year. Opening night includes a special musical performance by Jill & Rich Switzer, the popular morning hosts of Legends 100.3 FM.
(Directed by Robert Philipson; English. 2016; 58-minutes)
Presenting Partners: Leslie & Richard Stone
Film Partners: Barbara Mines, Linda & Ray Golden, Bente Lyons, Cyma & Ed Satell
Screenings: CityPlace 20 1/18
+ BOMBSHELL: The Hedy Lamarr Story, from USA
"The Most Beautiful Woman in the World" was used to describe 1940's actress Hedy Lamarr. Known for her matchless beauty and electric screen persona, Lamarr's legion of fans never knew she possessed such a beautiful mind. An Austrian-Jewish émigré, who acted by day, and drew mechanical and electronic inventions by night, Lamarr came up with a "secret communication system" to help the Allies to beat the Nazis. The Hollywood Reporter gushes, "The underexposed, amazing story of a Hollywood glamour queen who could have been a scientist."
Awards: Best of Fest Nantucket Film Festival, Audience Award Best Documentary San Francisco Jewish Film Festival and a special screening at Tribeca Film Festival.
(Directed Alexandra Dean; English. 2016; 90-minutes)
Film Partners: Helen & Harold Box (CityPlace 20); Steffi & Ron Boyland (PGA)
Screenings: CityPlace 20 1/22, PGA 1/29, CMX 2/6
+ DREAMING OF A JEWISH CHRISTMAS, from Canada - Florida Festival Premiere
Set entirely in a Chinese restaurant, this offbeat, irreverent musical documentary tells the story of a group of Jewish songwriters - Irving Berlin, Mel Torme, Jay Livingston, Ray Evans, Gloria Shayne Baker and Johnny Marks - who wrote the soundtrack to Christianity's most musical holiday. It's an amazing tale of immigrant outsiders who became irreplaceable players in pop culture's mainstream - a generation of songwriters who found in Christmas the perfect holiday in which to imagine a better world, and make people believe it for at least one day a year.
(Directed by Larry Weinstein; English. 2017; 52-minutes)
Presenting Partners: Leslie & Richard Stone; Cultural Council of Palm Beach County
Screenings: CityPlace 20, 2/11
+ FUTURESPAST, from USA - Palm Beach Premiere
Leo Melamed was the chairman of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the world's largest futures trading floor. His son Jordan had a successful trading career, but left Chicago for Hollywood. After initial success, Melamed returned to his parents' home defeated. He proposes making a documentary about his famous father. We experience the high-stakes world of trading, with a practice known as "open outcry," where traders call out frenzied orders. Despite its machismo there is humanity in these face-to-face transactions that are quickly being replaced by a computer system created by Jordan's father. Simultaneously there are painful attempts at communication between father and son. Melamed is trying to find a way to reach his father, a Polish Jewish refugee. The Hollywood Reporter calls it, "A clever little film about different forms of communication and the crucial importance of face-to-face exchanges -- whether they involve huge sums of money or the even weightier currencies that dictate personal emotion and family dysfunction."
(Directed by Jordan Melamed; English. 2016; 88-minutes)
Film Partner: Alan Sagner (Cobb)
Screenings: PGA 1/30, Cobb 1/31, Frank 2/8
+ G.I. JEWS: Jewish Americans in World War II, from USA - Palm Beach Premiere
This documentary reveals the profound and remarkable story of the 550,000 Jewish Americans who served in World War II. These brave men and women fought for their nation and their people, for America and for Jews worldwide. Like all Americans, they fought against fascism, but they also waged a more personal fight-to save their brethren in Europe. After years of struggle with many facing anti-Semitism in the ranks, they emerged transformed, more powerfully American and more deeply Jewish, determined to continue the fight for equality and tolerance at home. Interviewees include Henry Kissinger, Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks.
(Directed by Lisa Ades; English. 2017; 84-minutes)
Screenings: PGA 1/31, Frank 2/4
+ ITZHAK, from USA - Palm Beach Premiere
If there's anyone who personifies the resilience, the vision and ultimately the contribution of the Jewish people, it's Itzhak Perlman. The violin is the chosen instrument of Perlman, the vehicle he has used to overcome his own challenges and express himself to the world. In Perlman and his music, we hear the story of obstacles and survival, we trace the path of the Jewish people from the chaos of Europe to the promise of Israel, we see the comfort of home and family and witness how humor and talent combine with discipline and drive. We hear his tales of growing up as the child of polish survivors; where his mastery of the instrument takes him from his small neighborhood in Tel Aviv to the world's most prominent stages and we hear his perspective on music and life.
(Directed by Alison Chernick; English. 2017; 82-minutes)
Film Partners: Mickey & Allan Greenblatt (Cobb)
Screenings: Cinemark 1/25, Cobb 1/3, Frank 2/5
+ KEEP THE CHANGE, from USA - Palm Beach Premiere
David, the son of a wealthy Jewish family, whose parents (Jessica Walter and Tibor Feldman) are worried about his future refuses to see himself as normal in every respect. He considers himself a natural charmer, hitting on every available girl he can find, and at the slightest excuse will deliver an unending string of dirty (mostly Jewish) jokes, often to the wrong ears. Forced to join a support group after offending a cop with his odd sense of humor, David considers himself to be superior to the group members until he is gradually swept over by the ebullient, over-excited Sarah.
Awards: Indiewire Best American Narrative Film & Best New Narrative Director Tribeca Film Festival; Special Jury Mention & International Critics Award Karlovy Vary.
(Directed by Rachel Israel; English. 2017; 94-minutes)
Screenings: Cinemark 1/21, PGA 1/28, Cobb 2/1, Frank 2/5
+ LET YOURSELF GO, from Italy - Palm Beach Premiere
In this screwball comedy, Elia is a Jewish psychoanalyst with an austere and detached manner. Elia lives alone in a flat on the same floor as his ex-wife Giovanna, with whom he is still secretly in love. After a minor illness, his doctor instructs him to lose some weight. He befriends a vivacious Spanish personal trainer, Claudia, a single mother with an unhinged criminal ex-boyfriend. As Claudia drags Elia around Rome, a series of mishaps ensue, breathing new energy into his tired and predictable life.
Awards: Italian Golden Globe Best Comedy; Best Supporting Actress Italian Film Critics Award.
(Directed by Francesco Amato; Italian with subtitles. 2017; 98-minutes)
Film Partners: Clair & Richard Lesser (Cobb)
Screenings: Cinemark 1/24, CityPlace 20 1/25, Cobb 1/28, Frank 2/4
+ MONSIEUR MAYONNAISE, from Australia - South Florida Premiere
An audacious documentary, that offers an utterly unique take on Nazis, comics and history. The documentary follows artist and cult filmmaker Philippe Mora as he uncovers his father's remarkable exploits in the French Resistance. His parents were well-known artists and fixtures of Australian bohemian life. Less known is his father's friendship with Marcel Marceau and how the two of them saved thousands of Jewish lives by stuffing secret Resistance documents in baguettes dripping with garlicky mayonnaise that Nazi border guards would refuse to handle. The ploy worked like a charm, and Georges' nickname stuck through the decades, when he proudly whisked up endless batches of mayonnaise
Screenings: Cinemark 1/23, Cobb 2/1, Frank 2/6
+ MR. AND MRS. ADELMAN, from France - Palm Beach Premiere
An erudite and witty celebration of love "for better or for worse," the film walks a razor's edge between bitingly cynical and ironically romantic. This tale of a 40-year marriage chronicles passions, ambitions, victories, secrets, betrayals, and French history! It is a whimsical tribute to the madness implied in the idea of sharing a whole life with someone.
Awards: Audience Awards at COLCOA Film Festival and Hamptons International Film Festival
(Directed by Nicholas Bedos; French with subtitles. 2017; 120-minutes)
Screenings: CityPlace 20 1/23, Cinemark 1/24, Cobb 1/30, Frank 2/4
+ ON THE BANKS OF THE TIGRIS: The Hidden Story of Iraqi Music, from Australia - Florida Premiere
When Majid Shokor escaped from Iraq, he discovered that the songs he loved as a child in Baghdad have a hidden history - the Jewish role in Iraqi music. To find out more, Majid makes a bold journey from Australia to Israel, Europe and Iraq to meet Iraqi musicians, hear their music and stories, and unite them in a concert for peace and reconciliation. ABC Radio National calls the film, "Magnificent! A rich array of personalities and music."
(Directed by Marsha Emerman; English and Arabic with subtitles. 2015; 79-minutes)
Screenings: Cinemark 1/26, Frank 2/5
+ OUR BROTHERS, from Israel - Florida Premiere
Our Brothers "Acheinu" depicts a conversation at a bus-stop between Amir, a secular former IDF soldier and Yosef, an Orthodox man. When circumstances have the waiting for a delayed bus, the two discover things about each other they could have never imagined, and realize they have much more in common than they think.
Awards: Award of Merit at Best Shorts Competition.
(Directed by Misha Zubarev; Hebrew with subtitles. 2017; 5-minutes)
Screenings: Cinemark 1/25, Cobb 2/2, Frank 2/6
+ PARADISE, from Russia, Germany - Palm Beach Festival Premiere
A compelling story of three people, Olga, Jules and Helmut, whose paths cross during WWII. Olga, a Russian aristocrat and member of the French Resistance, is arrested by Nazi police for hiding Jewish children. She is sent to jail where she meets Jules, a French-Nazi collaborator who is assigned to investigate her case. Then she is shipped to a concentration camp, where she crosses paths with high-ranking SS officer Helmut, who once fell madly in love with her. Helmut offers her an escape. Yet as time passes, and the fate of Nazi defeat looms, Olga's notion of paradise is irrevocably changed. Variety cheers, "Russian veteran Andrei Konchalovsky is in robust form in this richly monochrome, perspective-rotating Holocaust drama."
Awards: Best Director Award Venice International Film Festival; Best Screenplay Mar del Plata film festival.
(Directed by Andrei Konchalovsky; French, Russian, German, Yiddish with subtitles. 2016; 130-minutes)
Screenings: Cobb 1/31, Frank 2/5
+ PERSONA NON-GRATA, from Japan, Poland
Sometimes called the "Japanese Schindler," Chiune Sugihara was a diplomat posted in Lithuania during World War II. He defied orders and issued over 2,000 transit visas to Jewish refugees, famously continuing to sign visas even as his train pulled away from the station. He is estimated to have saved over 6,000 lives from the Nazis, who invaded Lithuania a year later in 1941. Afterwards, with his diplomatic career ruined, he did not know if the visas had made any difference. Now he is considered a hero in Japan, and the people he saved have more than 40,000 descendants.
Awards: Special Jury prize for Social Justice and Excellence in Filmmaking DisOrient Film Festival (Eugene Oregon)
(Directed by Cellin Gluck; English, Japanese with subtitles. 2015; 139-minutes)
Community Partner: American Jewish Congress
Screenings: CityPlace 20 1/24, CMX 2/5
+ SAMMY DAVIS: I've Gotta Be Me, from USA - Palm Beach Premiere
Sammy Davis, Jr. had the kind of career that was indisputably legendary, and yet, his life was complex, complicated and contradictory. He was the veteran of increasingly outdated show business traditions, always trying to stay relevant; he frequently found himself bracketed by the bigotry of white America and the distaste of black America. He was the most public black figure to embrace Judaism, thereby yoking his identity to another persecuted minority. Featured interviews include: Billy Crystal, Norman Lear, Whoopi Goldberg and Kim Novak, with never-before-seen photographs from Davis' personal collection and excerpts from his electric performances in television, film and concert, this film explores the life and art of a uniquely gifted entertainer whose trajectory blazed across the major flashpoints of American society from the Depression through the 1980s.
(Directed by Sam Pollard; English. 2018; 100-minutes)
Screenings: Cinemark 1/23, PGA 2/1, Frank 2/10
+ SCAFFOLDING, from Israel, Poland - South Florida Premiere
17-year-old Asher has always been a troublemaker from grade school through high school, yet he is also endowed with a considerable amount of charm and street-wise sense. While his oppressive father sees him as a natural successor to The Family's scaffolding business, Asher finds a different masculine role model in Rami, his new literature teacher. Feeling he can't take the humiliation his father puts him through anymore, Asher looks or a change, a new identity. But when an unexpected tragedy occurs, Asher crosses lines from which there is no turning back. Variety says, "Quite unlike anything else in current Israeli cinema, the film focuses on Israel's underclass - kids from blue collar, Sephardic families."
Awards: World Premiere Cannes Film Festival, Best Supporting Actor Ophir (Israel's Oscar) Award
(Directed by Matan Yair; Hebrew with subtitles. 2017; 92-minutes)
Screenings: Cinemark 1/24, PGA 1/31, Frank 2/6
+ SHALOM BOLLYWOOD, from Australia - Palm Beach Premiere
This charming documentary reveals the unlikely story of the 2000-year-old Indian Jewish community and its formative place in shaping the world's largest film industry. When Indian cinema began 100 years ago it was taboo for Hindu and Islamic women to perform on screen, so Indian Jewish women took on female lead roles, which they dominated for decades. The film focuses on the lives of five of the great Jewish actors. Infused with music and dancing, the cheekily told documentary unabashedly oozes Bollywood as it uses film motifs to drive the narrative. Hollywood Reporter calls it, "Lively, upbeat and entertaining."
(Directed by Danny Ben-Moshe; English. 2017; 96-minutes)
Screenings: Cinemark 1/21, Cobb 1/30, Frank 2/8
+ SHELTER, from Israel - Palm Beach Premiere
This subtle thriller, set in Hamburg, tells the story of Naomi, a one-time top Mossad agent who is coaxed back to work. She is dispatched to a safe house with a new false passport, a gun and a mission to protect a most valuable asset; and that would-be Mona, the Lebanese former spouse of a Hezbollah leader. After turning on her one-time partners, Mona has since gone under the knife, emerging with a different face and the promise of a new life in Canada. That is - provided she can survive her two-week convalescence while her militant ex-comrades scramble to track her down and take her out. In this game of deception, beliefs are questioned and choices are made that are not their own. And yet their fate takes a surprising turn in this suspense-laden, elegant neo-noir.
(Directed by Eran Riklis; English, Arabic, Hebrew with subtitles. 2018; 93-minutes)
Film Partners: Janet & Philip Dresden (Cobb)
Screenings: Cinemark 1/23, Cobb 1/31, Frank 2/8
+ SHERMIA, from UK - South Florida Premiere
This short film takes place over one night during the ritual of Shemira, the Jewish tradition of guarding a body from death to burial. We are the invisible witness to Myers' (John Rys Davies) intimate, private farewell to his wife - an outpouring of Myer's memories, from the seemingly insignificant and incidental, to the momentous during their six decades of marriage.
(Directed by Adam Wells; English. 2017; 22-minutes)
Screenings: Cinemark 1/22, PGA 2/2
+ THE DRIVER IS RED, from USA - South Florida Premiere
Set in Argentina 1960, this true crime animated documentary follows secret agent Zvi Aharoni as he searches for a mysterious man named Ricardo Klement. What he discovered in the remote outskirts of Buenos Aires would send shock waves around the wor