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Jewish International Film Festival

From Thursday, November 7th until Sunday, November 17th

The Jewish International Film Festival (JIFF) celebrates extraordinary Jewish-themed film from Israel and the Jewish diaspora. In 2019, JIFF presents a diverse program of film from around the globe including Opening Night documentary 'Ask Dr Ruth', which celebrates the life and legacy of sex therapist Dr Ruth Westheimer; 'Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles' which considers the impact of Fiddler on the Roof the world over, and Closing Night feature 'Jojo Rabbit'. The new WW II satire film from Jewish Maori director Taika Waititi has its first Australian screenings at JIFF

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Those Who Remained

CTC Drama

“[An] exquisite and poignantly performed tale… achingly tender.” - Variety Having survived the camps, 42-year old Aldo lives a solitary life as a doctor in Budapest. 16-year old Klara lives reluctantly with her great-aunt, holding on to hope that her father and mother will return. She meets Aldo, and soon the two of them find something in each other that has long been absent in their lives. As they grow closer and closer, the joy in both of their lives slowly returns. But as the Soviet Empire rises to power in Hungary, their pure and loving father-daughter relationship is misunderstood and frowned upon. A lyrical story of the healing power of love in the midst of conflict, loss and trauma, Those Who Remained reveals the healing process of Holocaust survivors through the eyes of a young girl in post-WWII Hungary.

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Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles

CTC Documentary

“Astonishing… a marvelously rich look into one of the greatest musicals of all time!” - Deadline Hollywood One of Broadway's most beloved and long-running musicals, Fiddler on the Roof’s creative roots and cultural impact are celebrated in this joyous documentary. Created in 1960s New York, a time when ‘tradition’ was on the wane, as gender roles, sexuality, race relations and religion were evolving, Fiddler on The Roof is at once ancient and timeless, personal and universal. Max Lewkowicz's captivating film is full of insightful interviews with the musical's creators, performance clips from productions around the world and lively commentary from admirers like Stephen Sondheim and Itzhak Perlman. This heart-warming dedication to the musical phenomenon will have you cheering l'chaim from your seats.

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King Bibi

CTC Documentary

"This film will fascinate Bibi's haters and admirers alike... “ - Makor Rishon Twenty years before the ascent of Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu already understood the political benefits of a relationship with the media, and direct communication with the public. King Bibi explores Netanyahu’s rise to power, relying solely on archival footage of his media performances over the years: from his days as a popular guest expert on American TV, through his public confession of adultery, and his mastery of the art of social media. From one studio to another, ‘Bibi’ evolved from Israel’s great political hope, to a controversial figure whom some perceive as Israel’s savior, and others – as a cynical politician who will stop at nothing to retain his power.

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Standing Up, Falling Down

CTC Unknown

“...knockout performances from Schwartz and Crystal.” - Slash FIlm Things are not going according to plan for Scott (Ben Schwartz), a stand-up comedian begrudgingly returning to Long Island after striking out on the Los Angeles comedy scene. He’s humiliated to move back in with his family and haunted by what could have been with Becky, his hometown girlfriend. Wracked with doubt and facing the prospect of a soul-crushing ‘real’ job, Ben finds an unexpected connection with Marty (Billy Crystal), a local Jewish dermatologist and charming barfly with a penchant for karaoke. As their unlikely friendship evolves, Marty and Scott find the strength to start confronting their long-simmering regrets.  This poignant and warmhearted comedy is an ode to companionship and facing failure together.

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The Other Story

CTC Unknown

The latest from veteran Israeli director Avi Nesher (Past Life) is an intricate web of desperate parents, rebellious children, and spouses locked in conflict. Having long ago resettled in the US, Yonatan returns to Israel at the behest of his elderly father, Shlomo, an avowed atheist. Shlomo is determined to stop Yonatan’s newly religious daughter, Anat, from marrying Shahar, a popular singer who has recently swapped his infamously libertine persona for that of a devoted Chasid. Meanwhile, Shlomo enlists the help of both Yonatan and Anat in a challenging case at his marriage-counselling practice, in which two parents are fighting ferociously for custody of their child. As the case becomes more complex, the paths of both troubled families begin to tangle in unexpected ways.

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Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love

CTC Documentary

“As much poetry as documentary – a gentle, rhapsodic film… and a moving portrait of a love that still resonates.” - The Wrap Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love is a beautiful yet tragic love story between Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian muse Marianne Ihlen. Their love began on the idyllic Greek island of Hydra in 1960 as part of a bohemian community of foreign artists, writers, and musicians. The film follows their relationship from the early days on Hydra, a humble time of ‘free love’ and open marriage, to how their love evolved when Leonard became a successful musician. It was on Hydra in 1968 that director Nick Broomfield, then aged 20, first met Marianne Ihlen. Marianne introduced him to Leonard Cohen’s music and also encouraged Broomfield to make his first film and was an enormous influence on him. Marianne and Leonard’s was a love story that would continue for the rest of their lives.

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The Tobacconist

CTC Unknown

Vienna under Nazi occupation is the setting for this ravishingly shot wartime drama about a young man and his unlikely friendship with Sigmund Freud (played by the late Bruno Ganz). Franz arrives in the city as a 17-year-old to apprentice at a tobacco shop, where the elderly psychoanalyst is a regular customer, and the two develop an immediate bond. When Franz falls desperately in love with a music hall dancer, he turns to Freud for advice to help him win her affections. As war approaches and the city descends into turmoil, the dramas of this young man’s life are swept up into the larger events that are shaking the foundations of Europe and the world. 

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Carl Laemmle

CTC Documentary

“A heartfelt tribute to one of the great Jews of early Hollywood.” - Atlanta Jewish Times A German Jewish immigrant, Carl Laemmle was one of the great creative minds behind the modern motion picture business. After establishing Universal Pictures in 1912, Laemmle would go on to give many Hollywood legends their starts, including Walt Disney, John Ford and Irving Thalberg. He also hired many female directors and made Lois Weber the highest paid director on his lot. Under Laemmle’s leadership, Universal would become known for its classic monster movies, mostly notably The Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein and Dracula. After selling the studio in 1936, Laemmle would go on to battle Adolf Hitler’s government and a notoriously anti-Semitic US State Department, and ultimately rescue over 300 Jewish refugee families from Nazi Germany.

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God of the Piano

CTC Unknown

“Genuinely impressive: this is storytelling which is as enigmatic as it is compelling... the use of music throughout is superb.” - Screen Daily For Anat music is all she has. Having never been able to reach her father's musical standards, she rests her hopes on the child she's about to give birth to. When her baby is born, she uses extreme measures to make sure her son becomes the composer her father always wanted - but as he grows up and confronts his grandfather Anat must finally stand up for her son. With an incredible original score, God of the Piano is the thrilling debut feature from Israeli director Itay Tal. 

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Would I Lie to You - the Beginning

CTC Documentary

The brand new prequel for one of the most successful franchises in French cinema history, Would I Lie to You - the Beginning takes us back to Paris in the 1980s where Patrick, Dov, Yvan and Serge are young men seeking success in love and business… with varying success.  The Sephardi Jewish community take centre stage in this good-natured and frequently hilarious romp that’s sure to be the French box office hit of 2019. À votre santé! 

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The Humorist

CTC Unknown

In the midst of the collapsing USSR, the favourite stand-up comedian of the regime begins starts to crack under the weight of official constraints and self-loathing.

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Where's My Roy Cohn?

CTC Documentary

Roy Cohn was one of the most controversial and influential American men of the 20th century. An only son born to a Jewish Family in the Bronx, Cohn is best known for being Senator Joseph McCarthy's chief counsel, prosecuting Esther and Julius Rosenberg, and for influencing the career of the young Queens real estate developer Donald Trump. He was a closeted man who refused to publicly identify as gay even as he was dying of Aids.

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Avenging Evil

CTC Documentary

It's one of the most extraordinary stories of revenge. By 1946, just a handful of Nazis have faced trial and most of the guilty will never face justice. For many of Hitler's victims, this is not enough. Based on previously unheard recordings and exclusive interviews with those involved, this film tells the story of ‘the Avengers’, a secret organisation of Holocaust survivors whose aim is "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life”. 

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Golda

CTC Documentary

Shortly before her passing, Golda Meir was interviewed for the Israeli television. After the shooting ended the cameras kept rolling, recording an intimate talk with the first and only woman to ever rule Israel. As she lit one cigarette off the other, Golda spoke freely, pleading her case for her term as prime minister. Based on that never-seen-before talk, testimonies of supporters and opponents and rare archival footage, Golda tells the story of Meir’s dramatic premiership - from her surprising rise to power and iconic international stature as ‘queen of the Jewish people’, to her tragic demise. This is a new feature length cut of the 2018 short documentary Madam Prime Minister.

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Untogether

CTC Unknown

“A tart, compelling romantic snarl.” - The Wrap Tara is a massage therapist dating an aging rock star (Ben Mendelsohn). She finds herself drawn to a newfound religious zeal and, particularly, to a politically engaged rabbi played by Billy Crystal. Her sister Andrea is a recently sober writer whose career has stalled since she published her debut novel several years ago. She strikes up an affair with Nick (Jamie Dornan), a doctor-turned-writer who is hailed for his wartime memoir. With its light-drenched aesthetic and the emotional tenor of a coming-of-age story, Untogether is a truly modern romantic dramedy.

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My Name is Sara

CTC Unknown

My Name is Sara tells the true story of Sara Guralnick, a 13 year-old Polish Jew whose entire family was killed by the Nazis in September of 1942. After a gruelling escape to the Ukrainian countryside, Sara steals her Christian best friend's identity and finds refuge in a small village where she is taken in by a farmer and his young wife. She soon discovers the dark secrets of her employers' marriage, compounding the greatest secret she must strive to protect, her true identity. This English-language drama offers a fascinating insight into Ukrainian identity and society, and pays testament to the bravery of a single woman.

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Picture of his Life

CTC Documentary

Amos Nachoum is one of the greatest underwater photographers of all times. Fascinated by the most fearsome creatures on Earth, he has developed a unique approach that puts him face to face with his subjects. He has swum with crocodiles, killer whales, anacondas and great white sharks but one major predator has always eluded him: the polar bear. Now, after four decades in the wilderness, Nachoum is determined to give it one last shot. As his journey unfolds, Nachoum contemplates the series of events - from fraught family relationships to the horrors of war -  that drove him here to the end of the world. It has been a long and painful journey, but where others find fear, Amos Nachoum has found redemption.

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The Mamboniks

CTC Documentary

“...heartfelt, profound and joyous.” - San Francisco Jewish Film Festival Bagels meet bongos in The Mamboniks, an energetic documentary that tells the little-known story of the Jewish love affair with Latin music. Set in New York, Havana, Miami Beach, and the Catskill Mountains, this uplifting film features a lovable, somewhat zany collection of dancers from the 1950s. Now retired yet still dancing, they share their passion for the mambo, the hot dance from Cuba that became a world-wide sensation. With an infectious soundtrack including Tito Puente, Celia Cruz and mambo king Pérez Prado, this film explores a mostly unexamined - and surprising - aspect of Jewish life and culture. 

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Curtiz

CTC Unknown

“Bound to make cinephiles everywhere very happy… very sophisticated.” - Cineuropa It’s 1942 and America is on the brink of war.  Facing government pressure, Hungarian-born film director Michael Curtiz is given the opportunity to direct a new propaganda film, Casablanca. However, Curtiz’s focus is pulled in every direction as he contends with his estranged daughter and his efforts to help his sister flee Nazi oppression, and the decision of what his protagonist Rick should choose in the end of the film.  Shot in stylish black-and-white, Curtiz recreates the Hungarian auteur’s struggle and sacrifice as he produces the cinematic masterpiece that went on to win the 1944 Best Film and Director Academy Awards.

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Man on the Bus

CTC Documentary

“I had to confront the fact that my mother kept this secret – a lie of omission that was all about my origins. “ - Director Eve Ash Man on the Bus follows one woman’s journey through a series of shocking revelations about her family history. As Melbourne-based psychologist and filmmaker Eve Ash investigates her parents’ story, she uncovers secrets that upend her life. Gripping interviews, home movies and archival footage plant notes of suspicion and reveal clues — names in a street directory; old 8mm films; mention of a man on a bus in an old recording. A bombshell follows and Eve’s image of her mother, Martha, a Polish survivor of the Holocaust, is blown apart.  Director Eve Ash is a guest of the festival. 

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Jojo Rabbit

CTC Unknown

Drawing on his own Jewish heritage and his experiences growing up surrounded by prejudice, writer-director Taika Waititi (whose mother is Jewish, while his father is Maori) makes a powerful statement against hate in his latest film, Jojo Rabbit. This World War II satire follows Jojo, a lonely German boy whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism. Premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.

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Mrs G

CTC Documentary

“We came with nothing, without money, with nowhere to live.” - Lea Gottlieb Premiering at the 2019 DocAviv Film Festival, Mrs G tells the story of Mrs. Lea Gottlieb, the legendary designer, founder and owner of the Gottex swimwear empire. Gottlieb was a woman full of contradictions, but knew how to recover from periods of crisis – from surviving the Holocaust, establishing a small factory in Israel, to her phenomenal success abroad. The film follows Mrs. G’s incredible creativity alongside her dominant personality, her complex relationships with her two daughters, and her unbridled passion, for which she paid a tragic price.

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