Jewish Film Festival continues with three features

My German Friend 

My German FriendA German-Jewish girl and the son of an exiled Nazi colonel form an enduring bond in Argentina in director Jeanine Meerapfel’s “My German Friend,” an epic love story that distills 30 years of personal and political postwar history.

The film opens in 1950s Buenos Aires where Jews and Nazis, having fled Europe, are thrown together in a foreign land.  As the children of affluent German emigrants, Sulamit Löwenstein (Celeste Cid) and Friedrich Burg (Max Riemelt) first meet as next-door neighbors and become instant friends. Only later does Friedrich learn that his father was a high-ranking SS officer.  Determined to break with his family, he moves to Germany to immerse himself in radical student politics.  Sulamit follows and a romance briefly blossoms, but Friedrich’s commitment to political activism leaves no room for love.  When he returns to Argentina to join an anti-government guerrilla movement and disappears without a trace, Sulamit embarks on a search to find him and heal her heart and the wounds of the past.

Partly based on people and events from her own life, writer-director Meerapfel delivers an intimate and humane examination of a guilt-ridden generation seeking to escape the mistakes and legacy of their forbearers.

“My German Friend” will have its Rockland premiere on Tuesday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the AMC Palisades Theaters, as part of the 11th JCC Rockland International Jewish Film Festival.  Purchasing tickets in advance saves $2, so visit jccrockland.org or call 845-362-4400 x 100.

Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story 

In June 1940, when Nazi troops invaded France, an amazing rescue operation sprang into being. One man, on his own, defied the direct orders of his government, and chose to grant visas out of Occupied France to an estimated 30,000 refugees, including around 10,000 Jews.  This remarkable true story has been described by historians as “the largest rescue action by a single individual during the Holocaust.”  The man was Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese Consul (Bernard Le Coq).

DisobedienceFounded in 2010, the Sousa Mendes Foundation is dedicated to honoring the memory of Aristides de Sousa Mendes and to educating the public about refugees and rescue during the Holocaust; and is engaged in a worldwide search for families who escaped the Holocaust through Portugal.

The screening will include guest speaker Harry Oesterreicher, who is a co-founder of the Sousa Mendes Foundation, which is based in Seattle.

Directed by Joel Santoni, “Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story” will have its New York State premiere on Wednesday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the AMC Palisades Theaters on the closing night of the 11th JCC Rockland International Jewish Film Festival.  Purchasing tickets in advance saves $2, so visit jccrockland.org or call 845-362-4400 x 100.

The Zigzag Kid

Vincent Bal directs this family-friendly film about a boy named Nono (Thomas Simon), the son of the world’s greatest police inspector, who takes a train to see his boring uncle when adventure calls.  He meets his father’s arch nemesis, notorious criminal Felix Glick (Burghart Klaubner) and puts his detective skills to work, wearing disguises and evading police as he heads to the French Riviera where Felix introduces Nono to seductive nightclub chanteuse Lola Ciperola (Isabella Rossellini).

With only 24 hours to go before his Bar Mitzvah, Nono must complete his high-stakes mission, while also confronting the mystery of his own identity and the truth about the mother he has never known.  Based on the coming-of-age novel by Israeli writer David Grossman, this is a stylish, witty, action-packed caper a la “The Pink Panther” that also touches on themes of self-discovery, the strength of family, and acceptance.

According to Neil Friedman, Founder and President of Menemsha Films, the studio tends to distribute movies that are geared more towards older audiences, and “The Zigzag Kid” was an “unusual film” for the studio to release because it’s a family film, one that’s also done in three languages: French, Dutch and English.  Friedman, however, remains confident in the film.

“The one thing I’m sure of, without any question whatsoever, is that anybody who watches this film, especially young people, love the film,” said Friedman.  “It’s just beautifully done, and it’s definitely a little magical.  The hard part is getting people to see the film, but once they see it, they love it.   It’s got a little bit of that magic realism…and there’s a wonderment in the film that’s really, really special.”

“The Zigzag Kid” is a wonderful film for children ages 10 and up, and will have its Rockland premiere on Saturday, April 26 at 9 p.m. at the AMC Palisades Theaters, as part of the 11th JCC Rockland International Jewish Film Festival.  Purchasing tickets in advance saves $2, so visit jccrockland.org or call 845-362-4400 x 100.