Although the Film Festival showings appear in the program schedule, for convenience, we are providing the information here separately, along with more detailed information about the films. All of the films are being shown in the Film Festival room at the hotel.
The numbers in parentheses after the film titles are the run times in minutes. Note that some films run longer than one program slot. For those films, the ending time has been adjusted. If the word "speaker" is included, it means that someone, often the producer, will be present to talk about the film. The film titles link to synopses farther down the page.
Till the Tenth Generation (2009)
For nearly 60 years, Slovak-born Tomi Reichental remained silent about his experiences as a boy in the Bergen-Belsen death camp, "not because I didn't want to, but because I couldn't." Tomi was nine in October 1944 when he and his family were deported and sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Miraculously, Tomi survived and eventually settled in Ireland, where he is one of three remaining Holocaust survivors. Charming and compelling, Tomi, now in his 70s, travels back to Slovakia with veteran filmmaker Gerry Gregg. Tomi recalls the history of Slovakia's Jews, and wounds are reopened as Tomi recalls his torment at the hands of the Nazis and their Slovak collaborators. Yet his message is one that calls for greater understanding between religions and races in his adopted homeland, Ireland.
[Documentary, 80 minutes, courtesy of the National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis]
Remembering Dokshitsy (2010)
The film will be followed by a Q&A with Aaron Ginsburg, president of The Friends of Jewish Dokshitsy, which produced the film.
In 2005, 100 tombstones from the destroyed Jewish cemetery in Dokshitsy, now in Belarus, were found buried under a road. The local government sought help "to correct an error committed many years ago." In response, JGSGB member Aaron Ginsburg created The Friends of Jewish Dokshitsy and brought together a worldwide network of descendants and friends to work with the Dokshitsy District authorities. On May 23, 2008, on the 66th anniversary of the day when about 2800 Jews were murdered across the street from the cemetery, the restored cemetery was rededicated. Remembering Dokshitsy chronicles the moving experience of fourteen descendants from the Dokshitsy Diaspora who were warmly received by the local population.
[Documentary, 24 minutes, courtesy of The Friends of Jewish Dokshitsy]
General Anders and His Army (1989)
Presented by Julian Bussgang, who joined the Anders Army in Palestine and fought in Italy, including in the Battle of Monte Cassino.
During World War II, a Polish army was formed in Siberia from Poles who had previously been deported there by the Soviets, with many Jews among them. This documentary contains amazing original footage of the formation of this army in Siberia, its journey to the Middle East where it became part of the British 8th Army, and its participation in the Italian Campaign.
[Documentary, 85 minutes, courtesy of Wytwórni Filmów Dokumentalnych i Fabularnych in Poland]
The Imported Bridegroom
Asriel Stroon is a widowed landlord who has amassed a fortune in turn-of-the-century Boston, where he lives with his still unmarried daughter. Fearful that his sins have lost him a chance to be accepted into heaven, he goes back to the old country and prays at his father's grave for the Almighty to wipe away his sins. While there, he comes across an old Jewish custom: the richest man in town is "bidding" for the awkward but brilliant student Shaya, hoping to "win" him as a bridegroom for his daughter. Instead, through his finagling, Asriel "wins" the young scholar, and the right to bring him back to Boston, certain that this will be his ticket to heaven. A classic comedy of assimilation ensues, with some surprising twists along the way.
[Fiction, 93 minutes, courtesy of the National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis]
Samuel Bak: Painter of Questions (2003)
In 2001, painter Samuel Bak returned to Vilna where he was born in 1933. Bak walked the streets of the Nazi-imposed ghetto where he was interned with his parents and visited the nearby forest where his father and grandparents were murdered. This film explores Bak's work and life through the lens of his childhood experiences during the Holocaust. Insightful interviews with the artist, Holocaust scholar Lawrence Langer, and Pucker Gallery director Bernard Pucker explore the unique and powerful visual vocabulary and iconography of Bak's work, which is held in museums and galleries worldwide.
Following the film, there will be an optional tour to the nearby Pucker Gallery to see the paintings of Samuel Bak. Space is limited; you can reserve a place on this free one-hour excursion by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Documentary, 48 minutes, courtesy of the National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis]
Dressing America: Tales From The Garment Center (2009)
This film explores an industry created by a rough and tumble assortment of Jewish "characters," some of whom seem to have emerged from the pages of a Damon Runyon short story. It's the story of fashion that finds itself dangling from clothing racks, manhandled down sidewalks, or pushed through narrow corridors in the Garment Center in New York City. It's also the story of individuals, like 86-year-old Holocaust survivor Charles Edelstein, who still travels from his home in Oceanside, Long Island, to peddle fabrics to a new generation of foreign-born Garment Center businessmen. The film is a tribute to a vibrant, colorful, and creative industry that has grown up and been nurtured by a Jewish presence for over a century and a half.
[Documentary, 57 minutes, courtesy of Pacific Street Films]
The Flat (2011)
At age 98, director Goldfinger's grandmother passed away, leaving him the task of clearing out the Tel Aviv flat that she and her husband shared for decades since immigrating from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Sifting through a dense mountain of photos, letters, files, and objects, Goldfinger begins to uncover clues that seem to point to a greater mystery, and soon a complicated family history unfolds before his camera. What starts to take shape reflects nothing less than the troubled and taboo story of three generations of Germans—both Jewish and non-Jewish—trying to piece together the puzzle of their lives in the aftermath of the terrible events of World War II.
[Documentary, 97 minutes, courtesy of Ruth Diskin Films]
In the 1880s, a group of families from Kovno, Lithuania, escaped poverty and persecution by emigrating to the United States. They settled in Burlington, Vermont, surrounded by a landscape that reminded them of home. They were the original families of Burlington's Jewish community, and for decades they preserved the Yiddish language and Orthodox religious traditions in one compact Burlington neighborhood, their Little Jerusalem.
[Documentary, 60 minutes, courtesy of Vermont Public Television]
How to Re-Establish a Vodka Empire (2012)
British filmmaker Daniel Edelstyn became mildly obsessed after discovering his grandmother's journals in the attic of his family home. Maroussia Zorokovich, born into a wealthy Ukrainian Jewish family, was a budding writer and dancer before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution rewrote her destiny and sent her into exile. When Edelstyn travels to the Ukraine in search of his roots and discovers that the vodka distillery opened by his great grandfather in 1904 is still in operation, he decides—despite his utter lack of business experience—to become a liquor entrepreneur and import the vodka to the UK. This funny, charming documentary employs an ambitious mixture of vérité cinematography and inventive animated sequences created by and starring the artist Hilary Powell (Edelstyn's wife).
[Documentary, 75 minutes, courtesy of the National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis]
The Secret (2001)
Through accidental discovery or deathbed confessions, many Catholic Polish citizens have made an unsettling discovery: they were born Jewish. These "new Jews" had to decide what this new truth meant to them, as Poles and as Jews. Officials estimate that an astounding 20,000 such cases exist in Poland. With their Jewishness repressed and repudiated for decades by their parents or adoptive parents, these children grew into to adulthood under Communist rule knowing nothing of their heritage. Many became estranged from their disapproving families after making the decision to practice Jewish customs and rituals. Director Ronit Kerstner profiles some of these men and women, including a Catholic priest who, at age 35, learned that his biological mother was a Jewish woman sent to a ghetto near Vilna. More broadly, the film explores issues of identity, family and adoption.
[Documentary, 52 minutes, courtesy of the National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis]
Saved by Deportation (2006)
In 1940, a year before the Nazis started deporting Jews to death camps, Joseph Stalin ordered the deportation of approximately 200,000 Polish Jews from Russian-occupied Eastern Poland to forced labor settlements in the Soviet interior. As cruel as Stalin's deportations were, ultimately they largely saved Jewish lives, for the deportees constituted the overwhelming majority of Polish Jews who survived the Nazi Holocaust. The film retraces the path that Asher and Shyfra Scharf traveled more than 60 years ago from Poland to Siberia to the former Soviet states of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. On their return visit, the Scharfs are welcomed by the locals, mostly Muslims, who recall fondly the sojourn of Polish refugees in their midst. This little-known story of survival is both a harrowing adventure and an affirmation of human goodness during a time of great darkness.
[Documentary, 79 minutes, courtesy of 7th Art Releasing]
Jewish Soldiers in Blue & Gray (2011)
The Civil War split the Jewish community as deeply as it did the nation at large. Prominent Jews, including Jewish slave owners, cited the Torah to justify slavery, while others were leaders in the abolitionist movement or established their synagogues as stops on the Underground Railroad.
Union General Ulysses S. Grant issued his infamous General Order No. 11, which directed that Jews be expelled from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Sephardic Jew Judah P. Benjamin became Secretary of State of the Confederacy. Eugenia Levy Phillips was imprisoned as a Confederate spy while Abraham Lincoln's Jewish doctor moved through the South as a Union spy. The film presents a critical period in the history of American Jewry.
[Documentary, 86 minutes, courtesy of the National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis]
The Dewey Connection: From Exodus to Independence (2013)
Growing up in Brockton, Massachusetts, after World War II, Walter Newman's young imagination was sparked by rumors of his neighbor Dewey Stone's involvement in "clandestine activities on behalf of the Jewish cause." Six decades later, after accidentally stumbling upon new information, Walter began to investigate. Piecing together personal accounts and extensive research, The Dewey Connection: From Exodus to Independence reveals Dewey Stone's incredible life story and instrumental, secret role in the struggle for the creation of the State of Israel.
[Documentary, 42 minutes, courtesy of Newta Films]
Finding Leah Tickotsky (2010)
The film will be followed by a Q&A with co-producer Mona Golabek.
In the summer of 2007, as a Stanford University student, Sarah Golabek-Goldman traveled to Poland to teach English in the village of Zakliczyn. While there, she visited the towns where her family lived before World War II to search for Poles who remembered her relatives. In the village of Jasionowka, Sarah discovered the gravestone of her great-great-grandmother, Leah Tickotsky.
This film explores Polish-Jewish relations as well as one filmmaker's personal journey to discover her family roots. Through her eyes, we witness one of the most painful periods in Jewish history and are reminded of the extraordinary contributions Jews made to Poland over nine centuries.
[Documentary, 48 minutes, courtesy of the National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis]
Budapest to Gettysburg: One man's new birth of freedom (2007)
The film will be followed by a Q&A with director Jake Boritt.
Budapest to Gettysburg: One Man's New Birth of Freedom (2007) is the story of a family finding a way to reclaim the past as filmmaker Jake Boritt, provokes his father, Gabor Boritt, a renowned historian and Lincoln expert, to own his own history. Gabor, whose family was torn apart by war, has not looked back "All my life I've tried to avoid looking at painful things," he says. "I'm not sure they make you stronger; I think they make you weaker." While the historian has shunned his own tumultuous history, he has become an expert on the most brutal period of U.S. history. He knows every step of Lincoln's life, yet Gabor cannot remember the street on which a Soviet tank nearly killed him.He did not talk with his son about ghetto life as a child in Budapest during the Shoah. As Jake films his aunt Judith Boritt and father Gabor on their journey back to Budapest, which they fled during the Hungarian Revolution, the three of them unveil the multi-layered legacy of a family's survival. Gabor's reflections meaningfully connect the universal struggle for freedom in two lands and eras in this beautifully made film.
[Documentary, 73 minutes, courtesy of Boritt Films]
Never Forget to Lie (2012)
The film will be followed by a Q&A with the director, Emmy Award winning filmmaker Marian Marzynski.
Emmy Award winning filmmaker Marian Marzynski was born in Poland and survived the Holocaust as a Jewish child hidden by Christians. In Never Forget to Lie, the most recent of Marzynski's critically lauded autobiographical films, the director explores his own wartime childhood and the experiences of other child survivors, teasing out their feelings about Poland, the Catholic Church, and the ramifications of identities forged under circumstances where survival began with the directive "never forget to lie." Marzynski's credits include the landmark documentary Shtetl, the film Settlement, and dozens of films broadcast on PBS's Frontline and European TV.
[Documentary, 52 minutes, courtesy of the National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis]
The Last Jews of Libya (2007)
Libya was the home of a centuries-old North African Sephardic Jewish community, whose final decades are documented in this film through the lives of the remarkable Roumani family, who lived in Benghazi, Libya, for hundreds of years. Thirty-six thousand Jews lived in Libya at the end of World War II; today none remain. The film traces the story of the Roumanis from Turkish Ottoman rule through the age of Mussolini and Hitler, to the final destruction and dispersal of Libya's Jews in the face of Arab nationalism. It is the story of an ancient and unique Jewish community at once transformed by modern European culture and by its relations with Arabs, all the while retaining its own religious traditions, and of a family ultimately saved through the strength of its Jewish tradition and faith. It is an unforgettable tale based on recently discovered memoirs of the family's matriarch. The film includes interviews in English, Hebrew, Italian, and Arabic with several generations of the Roumani family, as well as rare archival film and photographs.
[Documentary, 50 minutes, courtesy of the National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis]
Harbour of Hope (2011)
On April 28, 1945, several hundred concentration camp survivors arrived in the peaceful harbor town of Malmö, Sweden, on ships from Copenhagen. Using original archival footage taken on that day, Director Magnus Gertten traces the life stories of three of the survivors in this heartbreaking, but life-affirming film. The film explores the experience of liberation, from the complicated first moments of freedom to the mysteries and questions still haunting the survivors today.
[Documentary, 76 minutes, courtesy of Auto Images]
Of Stars and Shamrocks (1995)
The film will be followed by a Q&A with director John Michalczyk.
Both Irish and Jewish immigrants settled in Protestant Brahmin Boston in the late 19th century, where they found the promised land of opportunity shattered by bigotry, exploitation, exclusion, and discrimination. Even as both groups were victims of Brahmin discrimination, each harbored prejudice against the other as they competed for jobs, housing, and education. This film chronicles the interaction between the two ethnic communities over the last 100 years and discusses figures such as the vicious anti-Semite Father Coughlin, Boston's "Rascal King" Mayor James Michael Curly, and Cardinal Cushing (whose installation in the 1950s gave Boston its first pro-Jewish leader). John Michalczyk's film provides a deep insight into the ties that have bound two underdog communities together over a century of struggle.
[Documentary, 55 minutes, courtesy of the National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis]
RE-EMERGING: The Jews of Nigeria (2012)
This eye-opening film depicts the story of Shmuel who, as a young man growing up in Nigeria, consistently heard that the Igbo people were Jews. Yet, two centuries of Christian Colonialism prevented him and many other Igbo from exploring that connection further. When the Internet arrived in his town, Shmuel began comparing Igbo traditions with Hebrew traditions. What he found started a journey that eventually led him to a community of thousands of Igbo Jews.
[Documentary, 93 minutes, courtesy of RE-EMERGING Films]
Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy (2013)
Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy explores the unique role of Jewish composers and lyricists in the creation of the modern American musical and many of the songs that comprise "The American Songbook." Over the fifty-year period of its development, the songs of the Broadway musical were created almost exclusively by Jewish Americans. These are the popular songs that Americans took to war, sang to their children at bedtime, and whistled while waiting for the bus. A virtual behind-the-scenes-of-Broadway, it is an engaging, humorous, and provocative film, mixing and mingling ethnic cultural history with entertaining perspectives on the origins and meaning of some of Broadway's most beloved songs, stories, and shows.
[Documentary, 90 minutes, courtesy of 7th Art Releasing]
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