JCC ROCKLAND 14th ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL

The 14th season of the JCC Rockland International Jewish Film Festival, sponsored by Lia Toyota kicks off this weekend.

The festival, running March 5 – April 5, features 18 films from eight countries, screening 21 times in the Regal Cinemas in Nanuet and the Lafayette Theatre in Suffern.The anticipation is almost over as the final preparations for this year’s festival are being completed by volunteers and staff. 

The festival presents international celebrations of culture, identity, diversity,complexity, and history through a Jewish lens and is one of the largest annual cultural events in Rockland. First -run films featuring, Golden Globe nominees, Ophir nominees and winners, will bring together Rockland’s film lovers along with others from Bergen, Westchester, and Orange Counties and NYC.

Organizers say the festival’s goal is “to create a unique opportunity to address challenging issues, while fostering greater understanding of the world around us, the history that brought us here, and to help us build bridges of friendship for the future.”

Among the features this year are fun-filled comedies; Opening Night- “The Women’s Balcony,” the Senior matinee- “The Pickle Recipe;” “Moos,” and “Atomic Falafel.”

The festival has first-rate narrative dramas; “Fanny’s Journey,” “Cloudy Sunday” and “Wunderkinder.” 

Hold onto your seats with thrillers like “A Grain of Truth” and  “Firebird.” 

Sure to be a favorite amongst audiences will be the  fast-paced and inspirational sports film, “On the Map.” For foodie flicks fans, check out “Hummus, The Movie” and “The Last Blintz.”

There’s a documentary that presents a wonderful International Holocaust remembrance project, “Not The Last Butterfly,” and a special short film “Ed,” which tells the story of 100-year-old Ed Simon and his 60 years of teaching music in Rockland County.

The festival’s centerpiece feature film, “The Law,” is  presented in memory of Congressman Ben Gilman. Retro-comedy featuring the late, great Gene Wilder in “The Frisco Kid!” will also play. 

International filmmakers, actors,directors, critics, and experts in the fields of law, culture, holocaust and sports will join audiences for many of the films, making themselves available for Q&A dialogues after each film. For the full list of films and synopses: jccrockland.org to purchase tickets, call: 845-362-4400 after Feb 1.

SHOWTIMES FOR THE FIRST FOUR FLICKS 

“The Women’s Balcony,” March 5, 7:30 p.m. at the Lafayette Theater, Suffern and March 21, 1:30 p.m. at Regal Cinema, Nanuet. 

Directed by: Emil Ben-Shimon • Hudson Valley Premiere • Israel, 2016 • Feature, Comedy, Family, Marriage, Traditional Jewish Life, Wives vs. Husbands • 96 minutes

In this rousing, good-hearted and joyful tale about women speaking truth to patriarchal power, an accident during a bar mitzvah celebration leads to a gender rift in a devout Orthodox community in Jerusalem. When the women’s balcony in an Orthodox synagogue collapses, leaving the rabbi’s wife in a coma and the rabbi in shock, the congregation falls into crisis. Charismatic young Rabbi David appears to be a savior after the accident, but slowly starts pushing his fundamentalist ways and tries to take control. This tests the women’s friendships and creates an almost Lysistrata-type rift between the community’s women and men. Nominated For 5 Ophir Awards

“A Grain of Truth,” March 12, 7:30 p.m. at the Lafayette Theater, Suffern. 

Directed by: Borys Lankosz • Hudson Valley Premiere • Poland, 2015 • Feature, Thriller, Murder Mystery, Whodunit, Latent 

Anti-Semitism in Poland • 110 minutes

Based on the bestselling Polish novel, A Grain of Truth is a masterfully constructed whodunit that pits the forces of enlightenment against anti-Semitic myths. Once the star of the Warsaw prosecutors’ office, Teodor Szacki has left his career and marriage to start a new life in a close-knit Polish town. As an outsider he faces resistance when called on to get to the bottom of the brutal murder of a well-known social activist, her body discovered outside a former synagogue. As the trail of victims grows and the killer remains elusive, clues point to a connection with the myth of blood libel. Aided by a veteran police detective, a reluctant female prosecutor, and a local rabbi, Teodor must solve the case before public and media hysteria undo all the progress the country hasmade in shedding its xenophobic past.

“Abulele,” March 14, 7:30 p.m. at Regal Cinemas, Nanuet. 

Directed by: Jonathan Geva • Hudson Valley Premiere • Israel 2016 • Feature, Comedy, Childhood Issues, Myth, Family Life and Love • 96 minutes

Abulele is a fast paced, upbeat modern family story about children dealing with loss in their lives. It reminds us that even when someone leaves, their love remains behind. After his older brother is killed in a car crash months ago, Adam struggles with grief and guilt, with his teacher, with bullies in school, and with his distracted parents. But everything changes the day he meets an Abulele – ancient monsters, bear-sized, that can make themselves invisible. Local legend says they are extremely dangerous – which explains why a Special Forces unit is combing Adam’s neighborhood in pursuit! But in fact, they are quite friendly to children in need. With the Special Forces closing in, it’s up to Adam to ensure Abulele’s safe return to his clan. Nominated For 2 Ophir Awards

“On the Map,” March 15, 7:30 p.m. at Regal Cinemas, Nanuet

Directed by: Dani Menkin • Hudson Valley Premiere • Israel 2016 • Documentary, Sport, Israeli Basketball • 78 Minutes

Still demoralized after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel was hungry for a collective uplifting event. On The Map is a fast-moving, emotional, and awe-inspiring documentary, telling the story of the 1977 Maccabee Tel-Aviv basketball team… the one that that toppled the four-time defending European Championship Soviet team, brought the first European Cup to Israel and became “The Team of the Nation.” Featuring interviews with the Jewish-American athletes who made history, combined with the pulse- pounding action of a high-stakes game, the film captures the spirit of a nation triumphant and victorious against all odds.