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
Ask Dr. Ruth chronicles the incredible life of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a Holocaust survivor who became America’s most famous sex therapist. With her diminutive frame, thick German accent, and uninhibited approach to sex therapy and education, Dr. Ruth transformed the conversation around sexuality. At 91 years old, she hasn’t stopped working, and shows no signs of slowing down.
“[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.
“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.
"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.
“...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.
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.
Tim Roth and Clive Owen star in this sweeping historical drama about a man searching for his childhood best friend – a Polish violin prodigy orphaned in the Holocaust – who vanished decades before on the night of his first public performance. With a stunning musical score, The Song of Names premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. Adapted from the award-winning novel by Norman Lebrecht.
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.
Frank Lowy, founder of shopping centre giant Westfield, started with one Australian store and built it into a global billion dollar enterprise. Now in his late 80s and facing the prospect of a merger that will lead to his retirement, he reflects on his past and events that have molded him into the fighter, philanthropist and survivor he is today.
“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.
“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.
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!
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.
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”.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
“...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.
“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.
“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.
“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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