Miami Jewish Film Festival
By Carl Rachelson
There was a time when quality film in Miami was scarce. This time has passed. It’s a new dawn with more to see than time to see it. Case in point is the 19th Miami Jewish Film Festival running from January 14th -28th. Screenings take place from Aventura to Pinecrest, including stalwarts like the O Miami Shores,Cosford, Coral Gables Art Cinema,Cinematheque, and Regal South Beach. Here now in Miami, having recently seen so many fine films, the festival itself plays the role of Michael Corleone – just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.
Igor Shteyrenberg, Director of the MJFF since 2013, has put together a beautiful program of 80 films from 20 countries.
Among the names we know are Natalie Portman , directing and acting in A Tale of Love and Darkness, Christopher Walken, Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, and Atom Egoyan.
These names unveil as much as a trailer.
Mr. Shteyrenberg is what we affectionately (or pejoratively) call a millennial, a term accurate, inadequate, and terribly unfair. Impeccable credentials define him, and his generation informs him. All this is good, but complex. Despite the complicated cards that life deals everyone, Judaism and its descendant Zionism carry unique baggage dissected ceaselessly and ferociously by Jew and gentile alike. Film festivals inherently do not shy away from controversy, but this year – these times – seem particularly thorny.
As Festival Director, Mr. Shteyrenberg understands this and must navigate sensitively – in advance. It can’t be easy. MJFF’s 19th edition toils in turbulent times, judiciously.
The lineup includes:
- Oscar-winning Richard Trank’s Our Boys, about the kidnapping and murder of three Israelis by Hamas terrorists in 2014.
- Look At Us Now, Mother examines a difficult mother-daughter relationship.
- Rabin, In His Own Words surveys the life of the Nobel Peace Prize winner and Prime Minister until his assassination.
- The Voice of Peace about pirate radio peacenik Abie Nathan and Rock in the Red Zone about the music scene in the village of Sderot, a stone’s throw from Gaza are two more of the ten documentaries showing.
Features showcase films like Dough, a lighthearted story starring acclaimed Jonathan Pryce,who received a Tony for Miss Saigon years ago, as an obstinate widower in what might be called Breaking Bread, and One More Time with beloved Christopher Walken as an aging lounge legend, presumably minus cowbell. Glories of Tango also promises something joyful and triumphant.
Revenge drama Remember, which garnered a lengthy standing O at the Venice Film Festival, kicks off the MJFF on Thursday January 14 at 7:30 at the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center. Two weeks later at the Miami Shores O, genius Roger Sherman’s The Search for Israeli Cuisine closes the festivities with a scrumptious portrait of a nation, its chefs, its people, and its food.
For the entire lineup, go to http://miamijewishfilmfestival.net/mjff/.