The Jewish Museum and The Film Society of Lincoln Center will present the 23rd annual New York Jewish Film Festival at the Film Society’s Walter Reade Theater and Elinor Bunim Monroe Film Center, January 8-23, 2014. The Festival’s 49 features and shorts from ten countries provide a diverse global perspective on the Jewish experience.
The festival opens on on January 8 with the U.S. premiere of Anne Weil and Phillip Kotlarski’s “Friends from France”. Set in 1979 in the midst of the Cold War, a young French couple slip into the underground of Odessa “refuseniks” – Jews persecuted by the Soviet regime in order to help them in any way possible. It is a meticulous recreation of the streets and landscapes of the Brezhnev era of oppression.
“The Jewish Cardinal” by Ilan Duran Cohen, recounts the true story of Jean-Marie Lustiger, son of Polish-Jewish immigrants to France, who maintained his cultural identity as a Jew even after converting to Catholicism at a young age and later joining the priesthood. Lustiger was appointed Archbishop of Paris in 1981 by Pope John Paul II, and found a new platform to celebrate his dual identity as a Catholic Jew, earning him friends and enemies from both groups.
Another unusual film is “”Ana Arabia” by Amos Gitai, which draws back the curtain on the life of a small community of outcasts, Jews and Arabs, who live together in a forgotten enclave near Jaffa. Filmed in one sequence of 81 minutes this virtuosic film follows a young journalist who finds a range of characters who seem to live in a time capsule, far removed from the clichés expected in the region.
A haunting and provocative film is “The Congress” by Ari Folman, the award winning director of “Waltz with Bashir”. Mixing live-action and psychedelic animation in which Robin Wright plays an aging, out-of-work actress (named Robin Wright) who reluctantly accepts her final offer: preserving her digital image for future Hollywood productions over which she will have no control. Twenty years later, she enters a “restricted animated zone”, where she rocks the complacent film/pharmaceutical industry and finds out what it was she really signed away.