A dozen films from seven countries will spotlight the 2022 Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival.
The three-week festival, from April 28 to May 19, includes a mix of virtual and in-person films. It will screen half of the films at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, the first time since 2019 that the festival has returned to a cinema due to Covid-19. The first five films from the festival, now in its 37th year, will be screened online, followed by a film at the Transit Drive-In on May 12. The other six films will screen at the Amherst Theater May 12-18.
“The films we get are quality-based, with Jewish or Israeli themes, and we like diversity,” said Michael Silverman of the 11-member selection committee at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Buffalo.
This year’s films come from Russia, Spain, Argentina, Germany, France, Israel and the United States.
“These are great films that you would never have seen otherwise,” Silverman said. “None of these are on the major streaming services.”
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Silverman said he was delighted the festival would feature the Israeli film “Image of Victory,” about Israel’s first battle with Egypt after announcing independence.
“It’s an epic,” he said. “It’s filled with war action. There are heroes. There is romance. There is humor.”
Silverman is also high on the Argentinian mockumentary “Red Star,” “about a fictional spy whose exploits included helping catch Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann.
“It’s a very unusual and very smart movie,” he said. “This one just knocked me out.”
Another favorite Silverman movie: “Here We Are,” an Israeli film about a graphic designer and his attachment to his intellectually disabled adult son who must be institutionalized.
“It almost seems like he needs to be with the son more than the son needs to be with him,” Silverman said. “I found it to be a very moving film.”
“A Radiant Girl” streaming April 28-30. (France, 98 minutes, French with English subtitles.) A 19-year-old Jewish girl living an exciting life in 1942 Paris doesn’t see the dark clouds gathering.
“My Dear Enemy” streaming May 1-3. (Israel, 100 minutes, Hebrew with English subtitles.) A Jewish artist and an Arab-Israeli professor struggle to maintain their friendship in the face of strong opposition from family and friends. Also: Tuesday Talkback with director Tzipi Trope at 7 p.m. May 3.
“Wet Dog” streaming May 4-6. (Germany, 103 minutes, Hebrew with English subtitles.) A Jewish teenager who settles in an Arab district of Berlin tries unsuccessfully to integrate.
“Xueta Island: A Hidden History” streaming May 7-9. (Spain, 63 minutes, Spanish, Catalan, English with subtitles.) The documentary explores the legacy of the Xuetas, a group of families from the Balearic island of Mallorca believed to be descended from the Jewish population of the time of the Inquisition.
“Red Star,” May 10-12. (Argentina, 72 minutes, Spanish with English subtitles.) A mockumentary tells the fictional story of a 1930s Purim beauty queen who becomes a spy undermining the Nazi cause.
Presentation at Transit Drive-In (6655 S. Transit Road, Lockport)
“The raft,” 7:30 p.m. on May 12. (Israel, 90 minutes, Hebrew with English subtitles). Three teenagers build a raft to board in Cyprus to watch a football match, risking their lives and having life-altering experiences in the process.
Presented at the Amherst Theater (3500 Main Street)
“Kiss Me Kosher”, 4 p.m. May 13, 7:30 p.m. May 16. (Israel, 101 minutes, Hebrew with English subtitles.) A romantic comedy about families and cultures clashing as they prepare for a same-sex marriage between German and Jewish women.
“Here we are,” 7:30 p.m. on May 14 and 4 p.m. on May 16. (Israel, 94 mins.) A father struggles to bring his autistic adult son to live in an institution.
“A Violinist’s Journey to the Big Screen” 1 p.m. May 15. (US, 88 mins.) Director Norman Jewison, cast and crew reminisce about making the 1971 film version of the Broadway hit, “Fiddler on the Roof.”
“Three Minutes – One Lengthening” 7:30 p.m., May 17. (Britain, 69 mins.) A 3-minute amateur film about a doomed Jewish town in Poland, filmed before the Holocaust, provides clues about the people who lived there. A pre-recorded Q&A will follow with Glenn Kurtz, author of “Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film.”
“Picture of Victory” 7:30 p.m., May 18. (Israel, 128 minutes, Hebrew, Arabic, Spanish with English subtitles.) In May 1948, a kibbutz battles an Egyptian strike force, shortly after Israel announced its intention to formally declare independence.
“Song Finder”, 7:30 p.m., May 19. (Russia, 82 mins.) Music scholar Moyshe Beregovsky, who started in the 1920s and lived through the Holocaust, records and saves the traditional music of Ukrainian Jews at great expense. Additionally, Thursday’s discussion will follow with David Zakalik, editor of the Beregovski Reading Circle.
Individual tickets: $10 CCG members, $13.50 non-members.
Festival pass: $100 JCC members, $135 non-members.
Drive-in film: (not included in the Festival pass): $18 JCC members; $24 non-members.
Discounted tickets for JCC members only available online at jccbuffalo.org/bijff
Mark Sommer covers preservation, development, waterfront, culture and more. He is also a former arts editor for The News.