Friday, December 15, 2017

In Brief: 1000 Words


Eddie Murphy misfire has an interesting idea - namely a smooth talking agent tries to hustle a spiritual adviser who informs Murphy that he has as many words as there are leaves on the tree and when the last leaf falls he will die. With his life in the balance Murphy has to clean up his act before his time is done.

Coulda woulda shoulda film is wrecked by Eddie Murphy's mugging and the desire to make this a comedy. Had this been played fairly straight this probably would have been a great little film. As it stands now its a great idea, with some great moments gets battered about by some really dumb comedy that undercuts everything. Its the sort of thing I watch in weird facination when it shows up on cable simply because its so wrongheaded at times. On the other hand I'd love to do a remake.

Worth a look for those who like weird misfires.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

COMPLETE LINEUP FOR THE 27TH ANNUAL NEW YORK JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL, JANUARY 10-23, 2018

THE FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER AND THE JEWISH MUSEUM ANNOUNCE THE COMPLETE LINEUP FOR THE 27TH ANNUAL NEW YORK JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL, JANUARY 10-23, 2018

Opening Night—U.S. Premiere of Nabil Ayouch’s Razzia Centerpiece—New York Premiere of Ofir Raul Graizer’s The CakemakerClosing Night—U.S. Premiere of Amos Gitai’s West of the Jordan River

Highlights include new works by Radu Jude and Tzahi Grad, documentaries about Sammy Davis, Jr. and filmmaker Michał Waszyński, World Premiere restorations of The Dybbuk and The Mission of Raoul Wallenberg, and more


NEW YORK, NY (December 14, 2017) – The Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center announce the complete lineup for the 27th annual New York Jewish Film Festival (NYJFF), January 10-23, 2018. Among the oldest and most influential Jewish film festivals worldwide, the NYJFF each year presents the finest documentary, narrative, and short films from around the world that explore the diverse Jewish experience. Featuring new work by fresh voices in international cinema as well as restored classics, the festival’s 2018 lineup includes 37 wide-ranging and exciting features and shorts from the iconic to the iconoclastic, of which 25 are screening in their world, U.S., and New York premieres.

The NYJFF opens on Wednesday, January 10, with the U.S. premiere of Nabil Ayouch’s mesmerizing Razzia, which follows five Moroccans pushed to the fringes in Casablanca by their extremist government. Closing Night is the U.S. premiere of Amos Gitai’s latest documentary, West of the Jordan River, a powerful look at West Bank citizens, both Israeli and Palestinian, who have risen to act in the name of civic consciousness and peace. The Centerpiece selection is Ofir Raul Graizer’s tender debut feature The Cakemaker, about the relationship that forms between a gay German baker and the Israeli widow of the man whom they both loved.

This year’s edition of the festival features an array of enlightening and challenging documentaries, including Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me, Sam Pollard’s exhilarating tribute to the legendary entertainer; the U.S. premiere of Chen Shelach’s Praise the Lard, an exploration of the Israeli pork industry; NYJFF alum Radu Jude’s haunting The Dead Nation, which consists entirely of photographs from Romanian photographer Costica Acsinte and audio of diary excerpts from Jewish doctor Emil Dorian, which both span the period from 1937 to 1944; the U.S. premiere of Daniel Najenson’s The Impure, which investigates institutionalization of Jewish prostitution in Argentina in the early 20th century. The festival also includes fiction works like Tzahi Grad’s morally complex, darkly comic The Cousin, about a progressive Israeli actor who comes to the defense of his Palestinian handyman when he’s accused of assault; and Francesco Amato’s comedy Let Yourself Go, about a detached psychoanalyst who finds his life recharged by the presence of a young, attractive, and undisciplined personal trainer.

NYJFF special programs include the world premiere of a new restoration of Alexander Rodnyanskiy’s The Mission of Raoul Wallenberg, 27 years after it premiered in the first NYJFF; a tribute screening of Amos Gitai’s One Day You’ll Understand in memory of Jeanne Moreau; Drawing the Iron Curtain, a special program of Soviet animated shorts, followed by a conversation with author/professor Maya Balakirsky Katz and film critic J. Hoberman; the U.S. premieres of restorations of Renen Schorr’s Late Summer Blues and Gilbert Tofano’s Siege; and a brand new world premiere restoration of Michał Waszyński’s 1937 classic The Dybbuk, one of the finest films ever produced in the Yiddish language, presented in conjunction with the U.S. premiere of main slate title The Prince and the Dybbuk, a documentary about Waszyński’s life.

See below for the complete lineup, including main slate selections and special events.

This year’s New York Jewish Film Festival was selected by Rachel Chanoff, Director, THE OFFICE performing arts + film; Gabriel Grossman, Coordinator, New York Jewish Film Festival/Jewish Museum; Dennis Lim, Director of Programming, Film Society of Lincoln Center; Aviva Weintraub, Associate Curator, Jewish Museum and Director, New York Jewish Film Festival; and Tyler Wilson, Programming Associate, Film Society of Lincoln Center.

NYJFF tickets will go on sale to FSLC and Jewish Museum members on Thursday, December 21, and to the public on Thursday, December 28. Tickets may be purchased online or in person at the Film Society's Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center and Walter Reade Theater box offices, 144 & 165 West 65th Street. For complete festival information, visit NYJFF.org.

The New York Jewish Film Festival is made possible by the Martin and Doris Payson Fund for Film and Media.

Generous support is also provided by Wendy Fisher and Dennis Goodman, Sara and Axel Schupf, Mark Kingdon and Anla Cheng Kingdon, The Liman Foundation, Louise and Frank Ring, an anonymous gift, the Ike, Molly and Steven Elias Foundation, Amy and Howard Rubenstein, Steven and Sheira Schacter, and through public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with City Council.
Additional support is provided by Office of Cultural Affairs  - Consulate General of Israel in New York, the German Consulate General New York, Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, the Polish Cultural Institute New York, and the Consulate General of Denmark in New York.

Acknowledgments
Nicola Galliner, Jewish Film Festival Berlin & Brandenburg; Faye Ginsburg, New York University; Stuart Hands, Toronto JFF; Natalia Indrimi, Centro Primo Levi; Judy Ironside, UK Jewish Film; Lexi Leban, Jay Rosenblatt, San Francisco JFF; Marlene Josephs, Volunteer; Cecilia Kaplan, Film Festival Intern, Aviva Kempner; Julija Lazutkaite; Linda Lipson, Volunteer; Richard Peña; Sharon Rivo, Lisa Rivo, National Center for Jewish Film; Andrea Simon; Alla Verlotsky, Seagull Films; Isaac Zablocki, JCC Manhattan


FILM DESCRIPTIONS & SCHEDULEAll films screen digitally at the Walter Reade Theater (165 West 65th St.) unless otherwise noted
OPENING NIGHT
RazziaNabil Ayouch, France/Morocco/Belgium, 2017, 120 minFrench/Arabic/Berber with English subtitles A kaleidoscopic drama, Razzia tells the story of five Moroccans pushed to the fringes in Casablanca by the extremist government. Director Nabil Ayouch contrasts the mythic romance of the classic 1942 film Casablanca with an honest and deeply humanistic portrait of contemporary Moroccans yearning for connection amidst political crisis.  Ayouch and co-writer Maryam Touzani—who also stars in the film—paint a mesmerizing portrait of a city and a meditation on desire and love.
U.S. PremiereWED, JAN 10, 7:30 PMTHU, JAN 11, 3:30 PM
CENTERPIECE
The CakemakerOfir Raul Graizer, Germany/Israel, 2017, 104 minEnglish/Hebrew/German with English subtitles In this tender and moving debut, Ofir Raul Graizer explores the connection formed by a gay German baker, Thomas (Tim Kalkhof), and Anat (Sarah Adler), the Israeli widow of the man whom they both loved, Oren (Roy Miller). When Oren is killed in a car accident, Thomas moves to Jerusalem and takes a job in Anat’s café. As their relationship deepens, and pressure from Oren’s religious family rises for Anat, Graizer delicately and gracefully traces the fluidity of desire and sexuality, the bonds forged by shared grief, and the challenges those can present to faith and family. As food is one way cultures can bridge such divides, so too can it be a way to mark separation.
NY PremiereTHU, JAN 18, 6:30 PMSAT, JAN 20, 9:30 PM
CLOSING NIGHT
West of the Jordan RiverAmos Gitai, Israel/France, 2017, 87 minHebrew/Arabic/English with English subtitles Building on work he set forth in Rabin, the Last Day and Shalom Rabin, Amos Gitai returns to the West Bank to better understand the efforts of the citizens, both Israelis and Palestinians, to try to overcome the consequences of the 50-year occupation. Interspersing footage of his interviews with Yitzhak Rabin from the 1990s with the contemporary interviews of everyday citizens, Gitai emphasizes the lasting side effects of Rabin’s assassination on the twenty years since: peace was so close, and now it seems so far. Searching for hope amidst the rubble of the occupied territories, Gitai shows the many local Israelis and Palestinians who have risen to act in the name of civic consciousness and peace. West of the Jordan River is a powerful and moving film from a most important filmmaker.
U.S. PremiereTUE, JAN 23, 12:30 & 6 PM

MAIN SLATE FILMS


Across the WatersNicolo Donato, Denmark, 2016, 95 minDanish with English subtitles In this white-knuckled Danish drama based on a true story, a Jewish guitarist and his family barely escape Copenhagen after the Nazis seize control, and they set off to a remote fishing village in the north of the country where they’ve heard local fishermen are ferrying runaway Jews to Sweden. When the Gestapo starts to close in on the refugees, the family is forced to put their lives in the hands of strangers. Director Nicolo Donato, whose grandfather was one of the ferrymen in the underground, masterfully ratchets up the tension, heightening the suspense until the very last frame.
NY PremiereTHU, JAN 18, 1 PMSAT, JAN 20, 7 PM


An Act of DefianceJean van de VeldeNetherlands/South Africa, 2017, 123 minEnglish/Afrikaans with English subtitles Based on the true story of the Rivonia Trial in apartheid South Africa, which led to the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela and nine of his black and Jewish compatriots, An Act of Defiance is the story of Bram Fischer, the lawyer who chose to put his life and freedom at risk to defend Mandela. Peter Paul Muller’s performance as Fischer is exceptional, and captures both his sympathetic and idealistic nature and his more conflicted, practical humanity, afraid that he’ll be implicated with the Rivonia Ten for his membership in the Communist Party. Jean van de Velde has crafted a film that is both a moving and powerful meditation on the sacrifices necessary to stand against injustice, and an exciting political thriller.
NY PremiereMON, JAN 15, 1 PMTUE, JAN 16, 3:30 PM


The CousinTzahi Grad, Israel/USA, 2017, 92 minHebrew/Arabic with English subtitles In this darkly comic thriller, a progressive-minded Israeli actor Naftali (writer-director Tzahi Grad) hires a Palestinian handyman Fahed (Ala Fakka), to do some work in his home. When a young girl is assaulted nearby, the neighbors immediately begin to suspect Fahed, and so Naftali steps up as the lone voice in Fahed’s defense. Grad cleverly evokes the moral complexities through Naftali, who is no Atticus Finch. Grad portrays him as a comically stubborn and self-righteous actor—one who, in the film, is developing a reality show about bridging the gap between Israelis and Palestinians—who must reckon with the uncomfortable realization that he, too, might be letting his politics cloud his reason.
NY Premiere   Preceded by:The Law of AveragesElizabeth Rose, Canada/USA, 2016, 13 min A young woman must sort out her relationship with her mother while they await the death of her grandmother.
 TUE, JAN 16, 8:45 PMWED, JAN 17, 6 PM


The Dead Nation (Tara Moarta)Radu Jude, Romania, 2017, 83 minRomanian with English subtitles With echoes of Chris Marker, Susan Sontag, and W.G. Sebald, Radu Jude’s The Dead Nation consists entirely of photographs from Romanian photographer Costica Acsinte and audio of diary excerpts from Jewish doctor Emil Dorian, which both span the period from 1937 to 1944. A study in contrasts, The Dead Nation presents idyllic images of pastoral life, while Dorian’s diary excerpts portray a surging wave of anti-Semitism and brutality. How do our memories hide the truth of our actions, or lack thereof? How can we measure our individual experiences against the enormity of historical experience? How do we make sense of what we have not—and cannot—witness? Radu Jude’s (Aferim!) hauntingly relevant documentary is, in the words of its narrator, “torn between reality and poetry.”
WED, JAN 17, 1:45 PMSUN, JAN 21, 6:30 PM    
                                                                                       
The ImpureDaniel Najenson, Israel/Argentina, 2017, 69 minSpanish/Hebrew/Yiddish with English subtitles Daniel Najenson’s personal and trenchant documentary The Impure investigates the institutionalization of Jewish prostitution in Argentina in the early 20th century. During the wave of Eastern European Jewish emigration, thousands of Jewish women were lured with promises of wealth to Argentinian brothels. The prostitutes and their pimps—in some cases the husbands of the prostitutes—were also newly-emigrated Jewish men, who quickly developed an expansive, flourishing underworld in Buenos Aires. They were seen as “the impure,” provoking the shame of the Argentinian Jewish community. But, as Najenson illustrates by digging up revelations of his own family’s history, “the impure” were inextricably woven into the social and political fabric of Argentinian-Jewish life.
U.S. PremierePreceded by:CompartmentsDaniella Koffler & Uli Seis, Germany, Israel, 15m; 2017U.S. Premiere Netta, a young Israeli woman, wishes to immigrate to Berlin. Her father, the son of Holocaust survivors, is horrified. Based on Daniella Koffler’s personal story, Compartments is the first German-Israeli animation to explore collective memories of the Holocaust in the third generation.
TUES, JAN 16, 1:15 & 6:30 PMThe InvisiblesClaus Raefle, Germany, 2017, 116 minGerman with English subtitles In June 1943, the German government famously declared Berlin “judenfrei”—free of Jews. But, there were still about 7,000 Jews living in hiding in the German capital. In this extraordinary film, Claus Raefle tells the story of four of the 1,700 survivors who hid in plain sight throughout the war. The Invisibles brings suspense to a remarkable true story by using a hybrid of documentary and highly accomplished dramatizations (gorgeously photographed by Joerg Widmer, whose previous credits include Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life and Wim Wenders’s Pina), which render the harrowing story even more astonishing.
NY PremiereTHU, JAN 18, 3:30 PMSUN, JAN 21, 1:30 PM


Iom Romi (A Day in Rome)Valerio Ciriaci, Italy/USA 2017, 30 minItalian with English subtitles In this intoxicating short documentary, Valerio Ciriaci chronicles a day in the life of the contemporary Roman Jewish community. The only cultural group that has lived in Rome uninterrupted since the days of the empire, Roman Jews have fostered their own unique set of traditions. Taking place over the course of one day, Iom Romi (A Day in Rome) provides a view into a way of life that is at once distinctly Roman and distinctly Jewish.
Followed by:Della Seta Home MoviesItaly, 10 min In these beautiful home movies, recently unearthed by the Centro Primo Levi, an Italian family gets acquainted with film. Heartwarming and mesmerizing, these home movies are sure to captivate.
Followed by:CounterlightMaya Zack, Israel, 2016, 24 minGerman with English subtitles Inspired by the writings of the poet Paul Celan, Israeli visual artist Maya Zack crafts a hypnotic story of an archivist who becomes part of her own work. Weaving together images of death and rebirth with the map of Czernowitz, Celan’s hometown, the archivist creates a “memory golem,” blurring the boundaries between past and present, reality and document.
NY PremiereSUN, JAN 21, 4:30 PM


The Last GoldfishSu Goldfish, Australia, 2017, 81 min As director Su Goldfish notes early in her autobiographical documentary The Last Goldfish, “my father told me stories, not always the truth.” When she discovers as an adult that she has siblings she’s never met, Goldfish burrows through her parents’ pasts to uncover the truth in her father’s tales. Spanning the globe from Australia, to Trinidad, and to Germany, The Last Goldfish is an astounding revelation not only of one woman’s discovery of her family history before and after Nazism, but also of her reconnection to her Jewish heritage. Introspective and self-aware, Goldfish confronts such universal questions as whether it is possible to separate oneself from one’s past—and what it means to try.
NY PremiereWED, JAN 10, 12:30 PMMON, JAN 15, 6:15 PM


Let Yourself GoFrancesco Amato, Italy, 2017, 98 minItalian with English subtitles In this delirious Italian spin on Jewish comedy, a detached psychoanalyst, Elia (Toni Servillo, wearing his misanthropy with glee), is warned by his doctor that his health is at risk, so he enlists the young, attractive, and undisciplined Claudia (Veronice Echegui) as his new personal trainer. But—despite Elia’s resistance—their relationship deepens and they come to depend on each other, as Claudia’s lack of inhibition helps Elia reignite the passion in his marriage, and Elia’s unwavering sense of propriety inspires Claudia to bring focus to her frenetic lifestyle.  As the comedy veers from the intellectual to the delightfully slapstick, director Francesco Amato deftly maintains the odd couple’s emotional grounding to hilarious effect.
NY PremierePreceded by:The BackseatJoe Stankus & Ashley ConnorUSA, 2016, 8 min In this charming documentary-fiction hybrid, two elderly parents rush to save the day when their adult daughter’s car breaks down.
SAT, JAN 13, 7 PMSUN, JAN 14, 4 PM


Mr. and Mrs. AdelmanNicolas Bedos, France, 2017, 120 minFrench with English subtitlesMr. and Mrs. Adelman follows Sarah Adelman (Doria Tiller) as she tries to convince Victor (Nicolas Bedos) she’s the right woman for him. Tracking their courtship from his early years as a non-committal aspiring writer through his later years as an egotistical, fame-obsessed one, this film toes the line between biting cynicism and aching romanticism. First-time director and co-writer (with Doria Tiller) Nicolas Bedos uses the changing face of Paris over the years to evoke the changing nature of the relationship. Mr. and Mrs. Adelman is a hilarious and absurd take on the romantic comedy that slyly toys with the cliché of writer and muse.
TUE, JAN 23, 3 & 8:30 PM


Praise the LardChen Shelach, Israel, 2016, 60 minHebrew with English subtitles The documentary Praise the Lard explores one of the biggest taboos in Judaism—pork—and how the existence of Israel’s pork industry came to exemplify much of the tension inherent in Zionism: the struggle to create a new, secular Jewish identity that exists apart from religious tradition, and whether it will be possible for this secular identity to survive in the face of mounting pressure from observant Jews. Praise the Lard presents an incisive, engaging take on how the unsuspecting pig took on such an outsized role in the land of Israel.
U.S. PremierePreceded by:The Red HouseTamar Tal, Israel, 2016, 20 minHebrew with English subtitles In this beautifully animated short documentary, the history of one unique building in Tel Aviv becomes a reflection for the ever-changing face of Israeli society. U.S. Premiere
THU, JAN 11, 1 PMSUN, JAN 14, 6:30 PM


The Prince and the DybbukPiotr Rosolowski & Elwira Niewiera, Poland/Germany, 2017, 82 minEnglish, Italian, Spanish, Polish, German with English subtitles He is remembered as a Polish aristocrat, Hollywood producer, a reprobate and liar, an open homosexual and husband to an Italian countess, and director of The Dybbuk, one of the most important Jewish films of all time. But who, really, was Michał Waszyński? Piotr Rosolowski and Elwira Niewiera portray Waszyński, né Moshe Waks, as a fabulist, a man of constantly shifting identity, blurring the lines between reality and illusion. A perpetually restless filmmaker, Waszyński became obsessed with his adaptation of The Dybbuk and its mythical imagery of the shtetl. A modern take on the archetype of the Wandering Jew, The Prince and the Dybbuk asks whether it is ever possible to cut oneself off from one’s roots, and at what cost.
Presented in conjunction with The Dybbuk (1937) – see special programs.U.S. PremierePreceded by:A Hunger ArtistDaria Martin, UK, 2017, 17 min Based on the 1924 short story by Franz Kafka, A Hunger Artist is the kaleidoscopic tale of an entertainer acclaimed for his ability to fast. But his act soon falls out of fashion and, left to himself with neither sta ge nor audience, he dies of hunger. Daria Martin’s lush adaptation understands the delicate tone of Kafka’s work: fiercely anti-authoritarian, constantly self-effacing, and toeing the line between hilarious and heartbreaking.
WED, JAN 10, 2:45 PMTHU, JAN 11, 9 PM


Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be MeSam Pollard, USA, 2017, 100 min What didn’t Sammy Davis, Jr. do? In this exhilarating documentary, long-time Spike Lee collaborator Sam Pollard pays tribute to the multi-talented, multi-racial entertainer by scrutinizing the political complexities and contradictions that defined his career. Amidst the violence and tensions of the Civil Rights era and after, as the political winds shifted, Sammy Davis, Jr. struggled to maintain his identity, while embracing his Judaism.  An electric portrait spanning the Depression to the 1980s, and featuring new interviews with Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal, Jerry Lewis, Norman Lear, and more, I’ve Gotta Be Me embraces the unique complexity of an iconic American entertainer.
SUN, JAN 14, 8:45 PM
  
Tracking EdithPeter Stephan Jungk, Austria/Germany/Russia/UK 2016, 91 minEnglish/German/Russian/French with English subtitles A documentary about the Austro-British photographer Edith Tutor-Hart, Tracking Edith follows filmmaker Peter Stephan Jungk’s journey to understand the motivations of his great aunt who, while living a double life as a spy for the KGB, recruited Kim Philby and created the Cambridge Five, the Soviet Union’s most successful spy ring in the United Kingdom, which infiltrated the very top of British intelligence (and inspired John le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). As Jungk learns more about his aunt and her work, his film demands the question: why is she not recognized alongside Kim Philby and the Cambridge Five as one of the spies that change the world?
U.S. PremiereMON, JAN 22, 3:30 & 8:30 PM

SHORTS PROGRAM107 minVarious languages
The Story of Jon BurgermanBas Berkhout, USA/UK, 2017, 6 min Whimsical artist Jon Burgerman explores how his family history affects his creative inspiration.

El Becerro PintadoDavid Pantaléon, Spain, 2017, 10 min In this experimental short, the biblical story of the golden calf is transported to rural Spain. U.S. Premiere

El HaraMargaux Fitoussi, Tunisia/France, 2017, 16 minEl Hara is a vivid, mesmerizing portrait of the old Jewish ghetto in Tunis. NY Premiere

SummerPearl Gluck, USA, 2017, 18 min Young, Orthodox Jewish girls explore their burgeoning sexuality amidst the strict rules of their sleep-away camp. World Premiere

Shlomi & MazyLeonhard Hofmann, Germany, 2016, 17 min In this tender documentary portrait, an Israeli opera singer living in Berlin struggles to balance his career with his true passion: performing in drag as his alter ego, Mazy Mazeltov. U.S. Premiere

Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405Frank Stiefel, USA, 2016, 40 min This warm portrait explores sculptor and visual artist Mindy Alper’s journey through extreme depression to a place of love and openness via her creative process and transformative relationship with her art teachers and therapist. NY Premiere
SUN, JAN 21, 8:30 PM
SPECIAL PROGRAMS

FROM THE VAULTS
Avanti PopoloRafi Bukai, Israel, 1986, 84 minHebrew/Arabic/English with English subtitles In the aftermath of the Six-Day War, as the ceasefire is beginning, two Egyptian soldiers stranded in the Sinai Desert try to make their way back to safety across the Suez Canal. As they cautiously make their way west, the dangerously dehydrated Haled and Gassan stumble across a dead UN peacekeeper and help themselves to his cargo—two bottles of scotch. Instilled with liquid courage, they hitch a ride with a British journalist and a small platoon of Israeli soldiers who, they hope, can help them get home. In this absurd comedy—made all the more poignant by Salim Daw’s performance as Haled, a Shakespearean actor with aspirations to play Shylock—Rafi Bukai paints a humanistic, antiwar picture of both Israelis and Egyptians caught amidst the violent and ever-shifting winds of Middle Eastern politics.
New York Premiere of the RestorationTHU, JAN 18, 9:15 PM


The DybbukMichał Waszyński, Poland, 1937, 125 minYiddish with English subtitles Filmed just before the outbreak of World War II, The Dybbuk weaves a mystical story of the Hasidic shtetls of the late 19th century with the story of two close friends, Sender and Nisn, who vow to marry their first-born children. But when Sender reneges on the vow to marry his daughter to a wealthier son-in-law, the spirit of Nisn’s son arrives to haunt Lea’s wedding. A rich, ethnographic tapestry of Jewish legend, The Dybbuk, based on S. Ansky’s seminal Yiddish play, is one of the finest films ever produced in the Yiddish language, presented here in a brand-new restoration.
World Premiere of the RestorationPresented in conjunction with The Prince and the DybbukSUN, JAN 14, 1 PMWED, JAN 17, 8:45 PM


Late Summer BluesRenen Schorr, Israel, 1988, 103 minHebrew with English subtitles Set just after the Six-Day War, in the shadow of the War of Attrition with Egypt, Late Summer Blues follows a group of high school graduates during the summer before they’re conscripted into the army. Restored after thirty years, this Israeli classic portrays the paradox of Israeli adolescence in raw, deeply human terms: the uncertainty, confusion, and playful embrace of the present are constantly tainted by the shadow of military service and the razor’s edge of anxiety, only somewhat tempered by days at the beach and rock music. Drawing from his own experiences, director Renen Schorr and writer Doron Nesher create a powerful and bitterly funny anti-war message by drawing on the restlessness of the young men and women as they cope with their growing fatalism.
U.S. Premiere of the RestorationMON, JAN 15, 8:30 PM

The Mission of Raoul WallenbergAlexander Rodnyanskiy, Soviet Union, 1990, 72 minRussian/English/German/Swedish with English subtitles Twenty-five years after it premiered in the first NYJFF, Alexander Rodnyanskiy’s The Mission of Raoul Wallenberg returns to the festival in a brand new restoration. The film investigates the mysterious circumstances surrounding the disappearance and death of Raoul Wallenberg in the Soviet Union following the end of WWII.  Wallenberg had saved tens of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust in his role as Sweden’s special envoy in Budapest. Tireless filmmaker Rodnyanskiy searched across the globe for traces of Wallenberg, from Moscow and St. Petersburg, to the Russian interior, to Hungary, Israel, and Sweden. Featuring interviews from subjects as far-ranging as Ronald Reagan, Simon Wiesenthal, and Yelena Bonner, the film passionately confronts the shadowy circumstances of Wallenberg’s fate.
World Premiere of the RestorationMON, JAN 15, 4 PMWED, JAN 17, 3:45 PM


Siege (Matzor)Gilbert Tofano, Israel, 1969, 89 minHebrew with English subtitles Israel’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 42nd Academy Awards in 1970, Siege is the story of the widowed Tamar (legendary Gila Almagor) whose husband was killed in the Six-Day War who wants to begin to put her grief behind her. But her late husband’s friends and family have other ideas—they expect her to remain in mourning for the rest of her life. Through Almagor’s haunting performance, Siege presents a humanizing look at a country and people struggling with a visceral, existential anxiety hiding just below the surface of the ecstatic outpouring following the victory of the Six-Day War.
U.S. Premiere of the RestorationSAT, JAN 13, 9:30 PM

TRIBUTE SCREENING
In memory of Jeanne MoreauOne Day You’ll UnderstandAmos Gitai, France/Germany/Israel, 2008, 89 minFrench/German with English subtitles When Victor (Hippolyte Girardot), a middle-aged French businessman, discovers a trove of wartime letters from his late father, he discovers his mother’s (the late Jeanne Moreau) hidden past as a Jew. When he presses her about it, she demurs, leaving Victor to uncover the secrets behind his mother’s past. Moreau inhabits the role with a stunningly reflective grace, as Amos Gitai crafts a haunting and finally optimistic tale of memory, denial, and reconciliation. With the trial of Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie taking place, One Day You’ll Understand presents a poignant meditation on what it means to be a witness, and the weight of such a burden.
MON, JAN 22, 1 & 6 PM

SOVIET SHORTS
Drawing the Iron CurtainMaya Balakirsky Katz with J. Hoberman Maya Balakirsky Katz, professor and chair of the art history department at Touro College and author of Drawing the Iron Curtain: Jews and the Golden Age of Soviet Animation, will screen shorts from the Soviet Union’s animation studio Soyuzmultfilm, which was as pervasive and influential in the Soviet imagination as Disney was in America’s. Katz and film critic J. Hoberman will discuss how the studio brought together Jewish artists from all over the USSR and served as a haven for dissident artists, allowing them to explore distinctive elements of their identity as Jews and Russians.
THU, JAN 11, 6:30 PM

MASTER CLASSSam Pollard Join Sam Pollard, director of NYJFF Main Slate selection Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me, for a behind-the-scenes master class on documentary filmmaking. An Emmy- and Peabody-winning director, Sam Pollard has directed and produced numerous documentary films.
SUN, JAN 21, 2:30 PM**Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater
SCHEDULE

Wednesday, January 10
12:30pm               The Last Goldfish
2:45pm                  A Hunger Artist followed by The Prince and the Dybbuk
7:30pm                  Opening Night: Razzia

Thursday, January 11
1:00pm                  The Red House followed by Praise the Lard
3:30pm                  Razzia
6:30pm                  Drawing the Iron Curtain
9:00pm                  A Hunger Artist followed by The Prince and the Dybbuk

Saturday, January 13
7:00pm                  The Backseat followed by Let Yourself Go
9:30pm                  Siege

Sunday, January 14
1:00pm                  The Dybbuk
4:00pm                  The Backseat followed by Let Yourself Go
6:30pm                  The Red House followed by Praise the Lard
8:45pm                  Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me

Monday, January 15
1:00pm                  An Act of Defiance
4:00pm                  The Mission of Raoul Wallenberg
6:15pm                  The Last Goldfish
8:30pm                  Late Summer Blues

Tuesday, January 16
1:15pm                  Compartments followed by The Impure
3:30pm                  An Act of Defiance
6:30pm                  Compartments followed by The Impure
8:45pm                  The Law of Averages followed by The Cousin

Wednesday, January 17
1:45pm                  The Dead Nation
3:45pm                  The Mission of Raoul Wallenberg
6:00pm                  The Law of Averages followed by The Cousin
8:45pm                  The Dybbuk

Thursday, January 18
1:00pm                  Across the Waters
3:30pm                  The Invisibles
6:30pm                  Centerpiece: The Cakemaker
9:15pm                  Avanti Popolo

Saturday, January 20
7:00pm                  Across the Waters
9:30pm                  The Cakemaker

Sunday, January 21
1:30pm                  The Invisibles
2:30pm                  Master Class with Sam Pollard (Amphitheater)
4:30pm                  Iom Romi followed by Della Seta home movies and Counterlight
6:30pm                  The Dead Nation
8:30pm                  Shorts program

Monday, January 22
1:00pm                  One Day You’ll Understand
3:30pm                  Tracking Edith
6:00pm                  One Day You’ll Understand
8:30pm                  Tracking Edith

Tuesday, January 23
12:30pm                West of the Jordan River
3:00pm                  Mr. and Mrs. Adelman
6:00pm                  Closing Night: West of the Jordan River
8:30pm                  Mr. and Mrs. Adelman  

THE JEWISH MUSEUM
Located on New York City's famed Museum Mile, the Jewish Museum is a distinctive hub for art and Jewish culture for people of all backgrounds. Founded in 1904, the Museum was the first institution of its kind in the United States and is one of the oldest Jewish museums in the world. Devoted to exploring art and Jewish culture from ancient to contemporary, the Museum offers diverse exhibitions and programs, and maintains a unique collection of nearly 30,000 works of art, ceremonial objects, and media reflecting the global Jewish experience over more than 4,000 years. For more information, visit TheJewishMuseum.org.



FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER
The Film Society of Lincoln Center is devoted to supporting the art and elevating the craft of cinema. The only branch of the world-renowned arts complex Lincoln Center to shine a light on the everlasting yet evolving importance of the moving image, this nonprofit organization was founded in 1969 to celebrate American and international film. Via year-round programming and discussions; its annual New York Film Festival; and its publications, including Film Comment, the U.S.’s premier magazine about films and film culture, the Film Society endeavors to make the discussion and appreciation of cinema accessible to a broader audience, as well as to ensure that it will remain an essential art form for years to come.

The Film Society receives generous, year-round support from Shutterstock, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. American Airlines is the Official Airline of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. For more information, visit www.filmlinc.org and follow @filmlinc on Twitter.

In Brief: Soufra (2017) DOC NYC 2017

Portrait of Miriam Shaar and Soufra, the company she started to provide women living in the refugee camp where she lives a better way of live. The film follows Miriam as she attempts to build the company via the purchase of food truck.

Good film about a great bunch of ladies follows the typical feel good arc. While you can kind of sort how how this is going to go you really don't mind because these are such great people that you truly love to spend tie with them...

...And say what you will about the film in the end you will get misty and feel good which is all that matters.

Recommended
SOUFRA opens in select theaters tomorrow

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Thousand Faces of Dunjia: Cosmic Wuxia from the Pen of Tsui Hark

The power of Dunjia, whatever that is, trumps “The Force” every time. That is why the secret Wuyinmen clan needs it. Like a cross between the Men in Black and The Four, the Wuyinmen have sworn to defend their wuxia world from evil alien monsters, but their strength has been depleted. Ironically, they might get a mojo infusion from an unlikely source when signs indicate a shapeshifting monster is destined to be their new leader in Yuen Woo-ping’s The Thousand Faces of Dunjia, written and produced by Tsui Hark, which opens this Friday in New York.

Rookie constable Dao Yichang is honest, but not very bright. That is two strikes against him, but he keeps plugging away. Several times, he stumbles across Iron Dragonfly of the Wuyinmen Clan as she pursues monsters in human guise, but she gives him the MIB forgetfulness treatment before he can ask too many questions. Still, she kinds of likes the lug, so when he is seriously injured in an unearthly melee, she tends to his decapitated limbs (don’t worry, they’ll grow back eventually).

Thus far, Xiao Yuan has yet to bring out similarly nurturing instincts in her. Due to prophesy mumbo jumbo, the clan’s “big brother” and her ambiguously Tracy-and-Hepburn-esque comrade Zhuge Qingyun are convinced she is destined to be the next Wuyinmen leader, but Iron Dragonfly is skeptical. Regardless, they need to find a way to tap into the power of Dunjia to defeat the underworld demigods and space monsters conspiring against the human world.

In some ways, Thousand Faces could be considered the ultimate Tsui Hark film, because he gives absolute free reign to his cosmic flights of fantasy. It makes his Journey to the West franchise look gritty and grounded. Consider the climatic “hand of Buddha” scene from Conquering the Demons as its starting baseline. If you can explain just what Dunjia is, you’re way ahead of the game. Near as we can tell, it combines elements of yin & yang, Qi, the Force, and a double espresso.

Regardless, there is plenty of fighting to be done, often against Earth-shattering foes. Fortunately, that plays to the strengths of Yuen, the fight choreographer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the Matrix trilogy, as well as the director of Netflix’s Crouching Tiger sequel. He has a talent for coordinating gravity-defying moves and colossal set pieces, even if they don’t always make a lot of sense, strictly speaking.

Aarif Lee probably gives his most assured performance yet as the resilient Constable Dao. Wu Bai is massively steely and cool looking as the interim Wuyinmen boss, while Zhou Dongyu is ridiculously sweet and vulnerable as Xiao Yuan in human form. However, Ni Ni totally owns the film as the heroic but acid-tongued Iron Dragonfly. Few wuxia protagonists can match her cutting attitude.

Obviously, Thousand Faces was conceived as a franchise, because the final scene totally sets up the next film. Frankly, it is funnier than most Marvel stingers, so it should leave fans primed for more. In fact, by the time we reach the epilogue, we come to rather like this unruly band of near-superheroes. Recommended for fans of high-flying, fantastical wuxia action, The Thousand Faces of Dunjia opens this Friday (12/15) in New York, at the AMC Loews 34th Street.

Mole Man (2017) DOC NYC 2017

Portrait of an autistic man named Ron who has been nicknamed Mole Man. Ron has a love of building and has built a huge maze of structures and tunnels on his parents property in rural Pennsylvania. However as everyone gets older Ron's family is faced with what is best for Ron now that is moter is well past 90 and he has his own way of doing things.

Very good documentary is part Ripley's Believe It or Not (because what Ron has done is unbelievable) part examination of the life of autistic adult and part celebration of the human spirit. Mixing the the various parts together makes for an occasional bumpy ride since there are times where we aren't sure what the point of it all is. I suspect that that is in response to Ron himself since over the course of the 85 minutes we never get any sense of Ron being anything other than Ron. Its a feeling that makes the ending very bittersweet since we know the world will change for him, but at the same time you can't help but he happy that he lives and exists and is one truly unique in all the world.

I have no idea what I truly think of it all but damn if it isn't something to see.

MOLE MAN world premiered last month at DOC NYC


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Todd and the Book of Pure Evil: The End of the End

Okay horror fans, are you ready for some closure? “Closure” might be too strong a word, but fans of the internationally popular Canadian horror series who were surprised by its cancellation after only two seasons will surely settle for more. It turns out some of Todd Smith’s associates were less evil than he thought and some were more so, but isn’t high school always like that? The Necronomicon-like Book is still all kinds of evil, but maybe it is no longer Todd’s fate to be the “Pure Evil One,” predestined to destroy the world with its apocalyptic power (that’s not necessarily a good thing for the world) in Richard Duhaney & Craig David Wallace’s animated feature, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil: The End of the End, which releases today in a Canadian limited-edition DVD/BluRay collector’s set.

Happily, for newcomers, TATBOPE—TEOTE starts with an attitude-rich recap of everything we need to know, sort of like the classic spoof Soap, but in the George Carlin-like voice of Jimmy the Janitor. Despite triumphing over evil, Smith is a little depressed, because he inadvertently killed his best dude Curtis Weaver’s science nerd girlfriend, Hannah B. Williams. Frankly, Weaver is pretty chill about it, all things considered—and he completely lets Smith off the hook when Williams inexplicably returns from the dead.

Of course, this Williams is different. We soon learn she is an evil clone, who has thrown her lot in with the evil stoner dudes. Of course, it will take the gang quite a while to figure this out, for obvious reasons. On the plus side, Atticus Murphy, Jr., the former high school guidance counselor and leader of the underground satanic cult has decided to be good. He will also start pushing a mop when he discovers Jimmy took his old gig while he was gone. At least the janitor position pays better.

Screenwriters and series co-creators Wallace and Charles Picco maintain the same ruckus and ribald sense of humor in the animated format. This film is not afraid to go to tasteless places for a laugh, but it understands all the established horror conventions and skewers them quite drolly. It is also easy to identify with the knuckleheaded characters. If you didn’t know someone like them in high school then you were one of them.

In a way, TATBOPE—TEOTE is like Star Trek: The Animated Series. The animation is not spectacular, but it is the same cast and the same writers, so it is the next best thing to new episodes of the classic series. If you were fans of the original TATBOPE, this will satisfy your cravings and those who are new to the franchise will still get a kick out of its lunacy. For home viewing suggestions, it would pair up nicely with either Deathgasm or Bad Kids of Crestview Academy. (Frankly, My Entire High Sinking into the Sea should have been more like this.) Highly recommended for fans of cult television, midnight movies, and macabrely wacky animation, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil: The End of the End is now available on Canadian DVD/BluRay and VOD platforms, from Raven Banner Entertainment.