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Film Festival Descriptions

Northern Virginia Jewish Film Festival
April 7-17

Angelika Film Center at Mosaic

Online ticket sales at Brown Paper Tickets.
Tickets will also be on sale at the door starting 45 minutes prior to each screening.
April 9 Update: Tickets are available for all films online or at the door.

NVJFF Bonus Event | Cinematheque Israel at the JCCNV | April 19
See description at bottom of page

A Blind Hero: The Love of Otto Weidt
Directed by Kai Bhristiansen | Germany | 2014 | 90 minutes | German with English subtitles | Documentary with re-enactments
Otto Weidt, a blind factory owner in WWII Berlin, hired Jewish employees to keep them out of the clutches of the Nazis. Smitten with his secretary, the beautiful Alice Licht, Weidt embarked on a nearly impossible, desperate journey to save her and her family from the horrors of Auschwitz. This little-known story of tragic love, devotion, and selflessness is told by award-winning journalist and author Inge Deutschkron, who provides her personal account of Weidt’s efforts to protect and rescue as many Jewish employees as possible. Weidt is listed as one of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem.
Sunday, April 10, 11am | Friday, April 15, 1:30pm
A Blind Hero Trailer

À la Vie (To Life)
Directed by Jean-Jacques Zilbermann | France | 2014 | 104 minutes | French with English subtitles | Light-hearted Drama
Three survivors of Auschwitz have a reunion 15 years later at the French beach resort town of Berck-sur-Mer. Over the next few days, Hélène, Rose, and Lili will have many firsts: their first real meal together, their first ice cream, their first swim... There will be laughter, song, arguments, and love affairs as they are determined to celebrate the rest of their lives, despite the tragedies of their past. Inspired by the true-life story of the director’s mother. The Yiddish songs the women sang in secret in Auschwitz serve as a backdrop for a story about the regenerative power of friendship.

Sunday, April 10, 1pm | Sunday, April 17, 7:15pm (Closing event/Raffle Drawing). 
Screening sponsors: Dara & Joshua Greene
À la Vie Trailer

Belle and Sebastian
Directed by Nicolas Vanier | France | 2014 | 92 minutes | French with English subtitles | Feature/Family
In WWII-occupied France, on the border of Switzerland, six-year-old Sebastian tames the enormous, yet gentle mountain dog Belle, who, despite the fears of the local villagers, becomes his best friend and protector. When the Nazis arrive and begin rooting out resistance members and Jewish refugees, Belle and Sebastian prove their loyalty to the village and each other when they undertake a treacherous journey to help the cause. A beautiful film with a strong, positive message about protecting the weak and fighting for what one believes is right.  "A well-crafted outdoor adventure in the old school Disney tradition." — The Hollywood Reporter. This is the only showing of this film during the festival.
Sunday, April 17, 3pm

Belle and Sebastian Trailer

Bulgarian Rhapsody
Directed by Ivan Nitchev | Bulgaria | 2014 | 108 Minutes | Bulgarian/German/Ladino with English subtitles | Drama
Bulgaria’s submission to the 2015 Academy Awards® is a story of friendship and first love set in Sofia during the summer of 1943. Despite the restrictions placed upon Jews, 17 year-old Moni manages to live a somewhat free life thanks to his best friend Giogio who, like many of his fellow countrymen, does not support the segregation of Jews. When both fall in love with Shelly, the limits of their friendship are tested. A warm tale of adolescence and a heart-rending look at the impact of war and Nazi anti-Semitism.

Friday, April 8, 1pm | Sunday, April 17, 11am
Bulgarian Rhapsody Trailer

Directed by Josh Goldschmidt | United Kingdom, Hungary | 2015 | 94 minutes | Comedy
A curmudgeonly widower obstinately clings to his way of life and his livelihood as a kosher bakery shop owner in London’s East End. With a dwindling clientele and the pressures of encroaching big box stores, he reluctantly enlists the help of a teenager who has a secret side gig selling marijuana to help his struggling immigrant mother make ends meet. When the teenager accidentally drops his stash into the mixing dough, the challah starts flying off the shelves and an unlikely friendship forms between the baker and his young Muslim apprentice. Dough is a warmhearted and gently humorous story about overcoming prejudice and finding redemption in unexpected places. This is the only showing of this film during the festival.
Thursday, April 7, 7:30pm (Opening event) Program following the screening, hosted by Ken Krupsky of Jewish National Fund, plus an exclusive pre-recorded interview with Adam Ziv and Alaa Sawitat from the Arab town of Tarshiha in Northern Israel. Adam and Alaa will expound upon their Arab and Israeli backgrounds, guiding us through their unique journey shaped by collaboration, friendship, and a passion for ice cream.
Screening sponsors: Anita & Steve Dienstfrey. Business sponsor: Richard Oppenheim, Atlantic Settlement Group, LLC
Dough advance tickets: $20 (thru March 31); $24 starting April 1. All seats reserved for opening night. Buy tickets.

Dough Trailer

In Search of Israeli Cuisine
Directed by Roger Sherman | USA | 2016 | 97 minutes | Documentary/Food
Michael Solomonov, the James Beard award-winning chef/owner of Zahav in Philadelphia, profiles chefs, home cooks, farmers, vintners, and cheese makers drawn from the more than 100 cultures that make up Israel today — Jewish, Arab, Muslim, Christian, and Druze. A rich, complex and human story emerges. Audiences will discover that this hot, multi-cultural cuisine has developed only in the last 30 years, mirroring the current state of the Israeli people and their food: secular, outward looking, and innovative. This is the only showing of this film during the festival.

Friday, April 15, 10:30am
Screening partner: Jewish Food Experience, a program of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington
In Search of Israeli Cuisine Trailer

Laugh Lines

Directed by Pini Eden | Israel | 2015 | 94 minutes | Hebrew with English subtitles | Comedy/Drama
Dana, a young, contemplative woman carries the load of her family on her shoulders while Hannah, her grandmother, senses life coming to an end. Fate intervenes amongst lies and deception to grant one last chance of reprieve with an unexpected twist. A creative plot and artistic filmmaking are combined with moving performances from a very talented cast, depicting undying love in all its many forms. 

Saturday, April 9, 7pm | Sunday, April 17, 1pm
Laugh Lines Trailer

Raise the Roof

Directed by Yari and Cary Wolinsky | USA/Poland | 2015 | 85 minutes | Documentary
Inspired by images of magnificent wooden synagogues in 18th century Poland—the last of which were destroyed by the Nazis — artists Rick and Laura Brown set out to reconstruct a replica of the stunning, mural-covered Gwozdziec synagogue. Working with a team of 300 artisans and students from around the world, using only period hand tools and techniques, the Browns finally realize their dream. This remarkable 10-year project is set against the backdrop of a 1,000-year history of Polish Jews.

Friday, April 8, 11am
Sunday, April 17, 4:45pm. Program following the screening with Ori Z. Soltes. Ori teaches theology, philosophy and art history at Georgetown University. He regularly leads study tours to museums and art and archaeological sites throughout Europe, the Middle East and parts of Africa. His new book on Jewish art and architecture, which includes a section on wooden synagogues, will be published this spring.

Raise the Roof Trailer

Directed by Aviva Kempner | USA | 2015 | 100 minutes | Documentary/Social Justice
Julius Rosenwald was the son of an immigrant peddler who rose to head Sears, Roebuck & Co. As a Chicago philanthropist, he partnered with Booker T. Washington to build 5,300 Southern schools in African American communities in the early 1900s during the Jim Crow era. Rosenwald also built YMCAs and housing for African Americans to address the pressing needs of the Great Migration. The Rosenwald Fund supported great artists like Marian Anderson, Woody Guthrie, and Langston Hughes. The film includes interviews with civil rights leaders Julian Bond, Ben Jealous, and Congressman John Lewis, columnists Eugene Robinson and Clarence Page, and Rosenwald school alumni Maya Angelou and director George C. Wolfe. This is the only showing of this film during the festival, but there are four preview events.
Monday, April 11, 7:30pm. Program following the screening with LaNitra M. Berger, PhD, a historian of African and African-American art. LaNitra will talk about Julius Rosenwald’s impact on the African-American art during the Harlem Renaissance. LaNitra is director of fellowships and faculty in the Honors College at George Mason University.

Rosenwald Trailer

Sabena Hijacking – My Version
Directed by Rani Saar | Israel | 2015 | 98 minutes | Hebrew and English with subtitles | Docu-drama
On the eighth of May 1972, four hijackers from the Palestinian organization "Black September" took control of Belgian Sabena Flight 571 from Brussels to Tel Aviv. The hijacking marked the beginning of thirty nerve-wracking hours, binding together fascinating human, military, and political drama inside and outside the plane. The film presents a cinematic reenactment of the events, weaved with archive material and exclusive interviews with three revered Israeli political leaders who were in charge of the rescue effort at the time, as well as the only surviving hijacker. Sabena Hijacking is a captivating, fast-paced docu-drama full of suspense, which poses significant political and historical questions that are not only still important, but have shaped the Israel of today. Nominated for best documentary film at the 2015 Israeli Academy Awards.

Sunday, April 10, 4:45pm - Screening sponsor: Judie Weiss. Program following the screening with Adam Harmon. Adam speaks frankly about current events in the Middle East. In addition, he provides a fresh perspective regarding the way we work in the 21st century – by showing how the IDF has more in common with Google and 3M than it does the US military. 
Tuesday, April 12, 7:30pm - Screening partner: Israeli House. Welcome to the evening with Hadas Barak, Director of Israeli House and Na’ama Gold, JCCNV–JAFI Shiri Rahamim Shlichut Program. Think and Drink following the screening; cash bar, complimentary snacks, and conversation with Eric Rozenman, Washington director of CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), about the different angles of today’s Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Sabena Hijacking Trailer

Suicide (Hitabdut)
Directed by Benny Ferdman | Israel | 2014 | 132 Minutes | Hebrew with English subtitles | Action Thriller | Contains violence
Hitbadut is Hebrew for “suicide,” but it literally means “losing oneself.” An action thriller depicting the final hours of Oded Tsur before he must end his life. Oded owes money to a loan-shark who demands his life as payment. Failing to take his own life would place Oded’s family in danger. Daphne, Oded’s wife, must contend with Romi Dor, a sharp police detective who believes her to be a manipulative ruthless adulteress, who used her husband’s situation to murder him. This action-packed thriller leads us on a wild goose chase around an "unholy" dark Jerusalem, during a 24-hour period, where all hell breaks loose. 

Saturday, April 9, 8:45pm - Screening sponsors: Tamara & Ed Faggen
Thursday, April 14, 7:30pm - Screening sponsors: Janet & Murray Horwitz
Suicide Trailer

Time to Say Goodbye (Simon sagt 'Auf Wiedersehen' zu seiner Vorhaut)
Directed by Viviane Andereggen | Germany | 2015 | 82 minutes | German with English subtitles | Comedy
A delightful, rapid-fire story of pubescent awkwardness. Twelve-year-old Simon Grünberg, a Jewish kid, has a lot to deal with. Life in Hamburg has been like a ping pong ball, as he travels back and forth to live in turn with his recently-divorced mom and dad. Complicating matters further, the family is religiously divided. Newly-observant father Frank desperately insists that his squeamish son sacrifice his foreskin before his Bar Mitzvah, while liberal-minded mom Hannah is fed up with the pious posturing of her ex-husband. Meantime, Simon falls head over heels in love with the new rabbi Rebecca, who is unfortunately twenty years his senior. With the Machiavellian scheming of Simon’s friends, a rivalry to win her heart fuels a family feud.
Sunday, April 10, 3pm | Saturday, April 16, 7:30pm
Time to Say Goodbye Trailer

To Life (Auf das Leben)
Directed by Uwe Janson | Germany | 2016 | 86 minutes | German with English subtitles | Drama
Jonas, a young man with a terrible secret, who is fleeing from love and his future, arrives in Berlin just in time to save Ruth's life. Fate has taken a toll on the sarcastic but warm-hearted Ruth, an aging Jewish cabaret singer, who sees no way out other than suicide. As Ruth recovers, she and Jonas, who we learn is terminally ill, begin to form a deep bond when they share their entirely opposite life experiences. The film features re-recorded intensely moving renditions of Jewish music classics, which help Ruth find her way back to life. Ultimately, it is Ruth who helps Jonas find strength to tackle his fears, stop fleeing, and discover new meaning in life. 

Sunday, April 10, 7:15pm | Saturday, April 16, 8:45pm
To Life Trailer

Wedding Doll (Hatuna MeNiyar)
Directed by Nitzan Giladi | Israel | 2015 | 82 minutes | Hebrew with English subtitles | Drama
Hagit, a young woman with a mild mental disability, works in a toilet-paper factory and lives with her nurturing and protective single mother. Hagit prides herself on her independence but also dreams vividly — and daily — about marriage. When a relationship develops between her and the son of the factory owner, Hagit hides it from her mother, Sarah. The announcement of the factory’s closing shakes Hagit and Sarah’s lives and jeopardizes Hagit’s love story. Nominated for nine 2015 Israeli Academy Awards, including Best Film. This is the only showing of this film during the festival, but there are two preview events.

Wednesday, April 13, 7:30pm. Program following the screening, hosted by ReelAbilities Film Festival. Lindsey Nebeker starred with her husband Dave Hamrick in the PBS documentary Autism in Love. Lindsey and Dave both have autism spectrum disorder. Lindsey will share her story of finding love and how she and her husband navigated the many demands of a wedding day. 
Screening partner: ReelAbilities Film Festival Northern Virginia, powered by the J 
Wedding Doll Trailer

NVJFF Preview Events
Cinematheque Israel at the J
An ongoing film and discussion series about shifting perspectives on Israeli life. Led by Na’ama Gold, JCCNV–JAFI Shiri Rahamim Shlichut Program. Single tickets: $9
Buy Tickets

Tuesday, April 19, 7pm
Directed by Noam Kaplan | Israel | 2014 | 88 minutes | English, Hebrew, Igbo with English subtitles | Feature/Drama

The film delicately weaves together the stories of four men in crisis — a decorated police officer who barely earns a living, an Israeli-Filipino boy fighting for recognition, a taxi driver whose children are migrating to a distant country, and a veteran migrant worker who is forced to decide whether to leave or to hide until trouble passes. Moving between scathing realism and subtle irony, Manpower deals with the uncomfortable realities of 21st century life in Israel and beyond: socioeconomic disparity and downward mobility, immigration and xenophobia, the erosion of community, and of family and connection. Program: Home Away from Home. The struggle to live the “Zionist” dream in a varied, complicated and changing reality in Israel. Share your thoughts about the film and Israel over a cup of coffee at our ‘Café Dilemma.’ 
Manpower Trailer

Past Events
The Women/Pioneers
Thursday, March 10

Directed by Michal Aviad | Israel | 2013 | 52 minutes | Hebrew with English subtitles | Documentary

Undressing Israel: Gay Men in the Promised Land
Thursday, March 17

Co-Directed by Michael Lucas & Yariv Mozer | Israel | 2012 | 46 minutes | Documentary

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