Antisemitism has always been front and center for Jewish people, but rarely has it felt so present as it has recently. As Jason Zinoman brilliantly wrote in the New York Times, “Antisemitism has such a long, violent history that it seems absurd to claim it is getting worse. Compared with when?” Between Elon Musk, Ye, Kyrie Irving and daily social media, Jewish people may not control show business, but they cannot escape it either.
So it is always entirely liberating when the Miami Jewish Film Festival does its annual thing, expands the limits of what Jewishness involves, and presents countless portraits of what being Jewish might mean. Once again, Igor Shteyrenberg and his team have curated another expression of the breadth and complexity of global Jewry.
This year, from January 12-16, at sites across the city, as well as virtually on demand, the 26th edition will share its wares with a newly awakened, inevitably uncomfortable population.
Screening venues include: Bill Cosford Cinema (Coral Gables), Coral Gables Art Cinema (Coral Gables), Miami Beach Bandshell (Miami Beach), Miami Beach JCC (Miami Beach), Miami Theater Center (Miami Shores), Michael-Ann Russell JCC (North Miami) and O Cinema South Beach (Miami Beach). Films are routinely well attended, so advance ticket purchases are recommended.
The maiden film, Karaoke, featuring Israeli stars Lior Ashkenazi and Sasson Gabay was nominated for 13 Israeli Academy Awards. It is about a married, middle-class, suburban couple who are drawn to their new neighbor, a charismatic bachelor from Miami who holds karaoke evenings at his apartment.
Other blessings include Israel’s official Oscar entry for Best International Feature Film Cinema Sabaya, as well as Israel’s biggest box office hit of the year, Matchmaking.
Additional highlights include Rodrigo Cortes’ WWII set drama Love Gets A Room, Rebecca Zlotowski’s acclaimed Other People’s Children, the international premiere of Anders Refn’s conclusion to his family saga Out of the Darkness, the 1930s set Italian melodrama Shadow of the Day, and Poland’s official Oscar entry for Best International Feature Film, Wedding Day.
Other headliners include the road movie Little Town, a charming dance documentary Woman in the Mirror, and drama Finding Hannah. The festival will also present one documentary about Marcel Marceau, another documentary which retraces the hunt for evidence that convicted Nazis at Nuremberg, wartime romance The Story of Annette Zelman, Holocaust story Terezin, and Fritz Bauer’s Legacy, which examines why it took so long for a former concentration camp guard to get tried.
14 notable French films will premiere including Little Nicholas, Mr. Haffman; #MeToo drama The Accusation, biopic Simone Veil, A Woman of the Century, romantic drama Where Life Begins, and Shttl, a French-Ukraine co-production that was entirely shot in one-take in a makeshift village built in the Ukraine.
MJFF will present a record-breaking 29 Israel-produced films, among them historical drama June, romantic comedy Paris Boutique that was nominated for six Israeli Academy Awards, documentary 1341 Frames of Love and War, documentary Air Born about children who grew up in the Israeli air force projects, drama All I Can Do, dark comedy Perfect Strangers, and a portrait of a social activist’s efforts to allow ultra-Orthodox women to enter Israeli politics in Women of Valor.
Last but not least, the Next Wave Competition, juried by 21-35-year-old college students and young professionals, will show the North American premiere of the Mexican romantic drama Goy, hair-raising drama Trust, dark comedy Concerned Citizen and love story March ’68 set in 1960s communist Poland.
None of this will ease your fear of anti-Semitic attacks, but all of it will make you proud of what Jewish people continue to produce.
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