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The Jewish Film Festival begins with 'Nuremberg'

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As the International Jewish Film Festival of Eastern Connecticut enters its 18th year, it's continuing to gather an eclectic, intriguing lineup.

But Jerry Fischer, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut, noticed a historical progression in the way the festival worked out, even if it wasn't by design.

"There's this arc of history that's kind of nice, having a beginning point - the culture of the Yiddish world before the state of Israel - and having the end-point be 'My So-Called Enemy' and 'Dolphin Boy' - modern Israel trying to heal wounds and solve problems.

"When (the festival lineup) was all done, it was laying out on paper, I said, 'Wow, look at this,'" Fischer says.

Indeed, the festival reaches back for "Sholem Aleichem," about the Yiddish writer whose creations include Tevye the Dairyman, inspiration for "Fiddler on the Roof."

It continues through "Nuremberg" (more on that below) to two films set during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War - "The Little Traitor," about a Jewish boy and an Englishman striking up a friendship, and "804," about South African volunteers in that war.

"100 Voices: A Journey Home" melds past and present as it reflects the history of Jewish culture in Poland. The fest reaches solidly into current times with "My So-Called Enemy" and the documentary "Dolphin Boy." The latter follows a teenaged boy from an Arab village in the north of Israel who disconnects after a violent attack and finds healing in a program with dolphins.

Leading off the festival's run, though, is "Nuremberg: Its Lessons for Today," which will be screened Sunday at the Garde Arts Center.

This documentary is the official U.S. government's film about the trial, showing how prosecutors built their case against Nazi leaders. Stuart Schulberg made the movie for the War Department & U.S. Military Government. It was never, however, screened in the U.S. While the original negative is gone, filmmakers Sandra Schulberg (Stuart's daughter) and Josh Waletzky have created a new 35mm negative and added more original sound from the trial.

Sandra Schulberg and former Sen. Christopher Dodd are among those who will participate in a post-screening panel discussion Sunday.

In fact, festival organizers have been working to have more post-screening talks.

Fischer says, "The committee felt that when we had discussions after the films, they really worked. ... After a movie, when everybody sits there stunned or amazed, there should be a discussion afterward. People should have a chance to process what they're thinking."

International Jewish Film Festival of Eastern Connecticut schedule

The schedule for the 18th annual event is below. All movies are screened at 7 p.m. in Olin Hall, Connecticut College, except "Nuremberg," which will be at 7 at the Garde Arts Center. Admission is $10 (free for Conn College students).

Sunday, March 4: "Nuremberg: Its Lessons for Today":

Reception at 6 p.m., with former Sen. Christopher Dodd and producer Sandra Schulberg introducing the film at 6:30 and taking part in post-screening panel discussion, along with Conn College faculty and Judge Thomas Bishop.

Monday, March 5: "My So-Called Enemy"

A coming-of-age story about six girls who participate in an American co-existence retreat and then have to reconcile that experience with life back home in the Middle East.

Post-screening panel discussion arranged by Connecticut College Hillel and other student groups.

Saturday, March 10: "Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness"

Explores the life of the man who has been called "the Jewish Mark Twain."

The musical group Klezmenschen plays before the screening.

Sunday, March 11: "100 Voices: A Journey Home"

A musical documentary following cantor Nate Lam as he leads 72 cantors from around the world in a performance at the Warsaw Opera House.

Guest speaker Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray.

Monday, March 12: "Dolphin Boy"

A 17-year-old boy recovering from trauma gets help from a dolphin.

Guest speaker therapist Reuven Clein.

Tuesday, March 13: "The Little Traitor"

A Jewish boy growing up in 1947 Palestine under British occupation is pulled in two different directions - by his anti-British sentiments and his friendship with a paternal English sergeant. Also screened will be the short "804, South African Volunteers in Israel's War of Independence."


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