The Jewish Film Festival expands its reach

Oscar-nominated documentary 'The Gatekeepers.'
Oscar-nominated documentary "The Gatekeepers."


The 19th annual International Jewish Film Festival of Eastern Connecticut runs April 6 to 25 at various locations. For more information, call the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut at (860) 442-8062.

The line-up is:

Saturday, April 6: "The Other Son," in which two young men - one Israeli, the other Palestinian - have been switched at birth; 7:30 p.m., Garde Arts Center, 325 State St., New London, $10.

Tuesday, April 9: "Nicky's Family," a documentary about Nicholas Winton, who organized the rescue of 669 Czech and Slovak children just before World War II. Screened at 7:30 p.m. at the Garde Arts Center, $10.

Wednesday, April 10: "Nicky's Family," 7 p.m., Capitol, Theater, 896 Main St., Willimantic; $10, $5 students.

Thursday, April 11: "A Bottle in the Gaza Sea," about the email relationship between a young Palestinian man dodging Israeli missiles in Gaza and a young woman who's a French-born immigrant in Jesusalem; 7 p.m., Connecticut College, Blaustein Humanities Center, Room 210, $10, free for students.

Saturday, April 13: "Hava Nagila" details "the power of one song to express and sustain identity" and how it "encapsulates the Jewish journey over the past 150 years"; 7:30 p.m., Garde Arts Center, $10.

Sunday, April 14: "Nicky's Family," 7 p.m., Congregation Share Zedek, Westerly; $5.

Thursday, April 18: "Hava Nagila," Capitol Theater, Willimantic; $10, $5 students.

Wednesday, April 17: "Besa: The Promise," 7 p.m., Connecticut College, Bill Hall, Silfen Auditorium, lower level, $10, free students.

Sunday, April 21: "Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy," about the Jewish composers and lyricists who had a hand in creating the American musical; 2 and 7 p.m., Connecticut College, Olin Science Center, lower level; free.

Thursday, April 25: "The Gatekeepers" tells the story of the Israeli Shin Bet; 7:30 p.m., Garde Arts Center, $10 .


Above and beyondThe Jewish Film Festival expands its reach

Every year, it seems, the International Jewish Film Festival of Eastern Connecticut is doing something a little different.

This year, it's doing a lot different.

• It's spreading the screenings over nearly a month, as opposed to holding them all in the same week or two.

"We thought that people might actually go to more of the movies if they didn't have to go see two or three within one week," Jerry Fischer, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut, says. "We didn't want this 'Oh, another movie' syndrome to kick in."

• It's earning the "international" part of its title. The line-up includes Israeli films, but it also has films from Slovakia and France.

"We wanted to make it really international," Fischer says. "Then, we wanted to deal with Muslim-Jewish relations but not just in terms of the Palestinian-Israeli conflcit, which we do cover, but in terms of unusual things that people might not think about - and that's the movie 'Besa.'"

"Besa" focuses on an Albanian Muslim who saved Jews durings during the Holocaust.

• It's moving the whole festival from March to April. The event used to be held in March, during spring break at Connecticut College. Holding it instead during April will bring in more people who spend their winters in Florida - as well as more students. In fact, some Conn students sat on the festival committee for the first time this year, and the movies at Conn are being screened in conjunction with the college's Muslim student association Yalla Bina.

• It's expanding its locations. It is still based in New London, with screenings at the Garde Arts Center and Connecticut College. But it's now reaching into Willimantic, Westerly and Putnam as well.

"The goal is to develop the audience. We discovered we have a really solid base, and we want to make that base even bigger," Fischer says. "One of the interesting things is, now that we're showing two films up in Willimantic, the people in Willimantic are coming down here to see the other films."

• And a few more notes about the festival ...

Fischer said that the festival committee lined up "The Gatekeepers" long before it was nominated for a best-documentary Oscar. The committee starts its work in early fall, while the Academy Award nominations are announced in January.

As for "Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy," Fischer says, "That movie is being screened for free - you don't have to pay to see it. What we were shooting for there was to get the incredible Jewish influence on the development of Broadway music known to the general public."

The festival is bringing in a couple of people to introduce films. Sheryl Shakinovsky, great-granddaughter of "Hava Nagila" creator Avraham Zvi Idelsohn, will speak at the April 13 screening of the film "Hava Nagila." Former ambassador to Egypt and Israel Daniel Kurtzer will introduce the April 25 showing of "The Gatekeepers," which is followed by a closing reception.

Left, 'The Other Son' opens the festival Friday.
Left, "The Other Son" opens the festival Friday.


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