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Jewish Film Festival 2021 Introduction from Festival Programmer Bruni Burres

We are thrilled to present the Jacob Burns Film Center’s 20th annual Jewish Film Festival, Sept. 30–Oct. 14. This year’s festival features 24 thought-provoking, captivating, and entertaining films, including narratives and documentaries from Israel, the US, and around the world.

The festival opens with Here We Are from Israeli director Nir Bergman (In Therapy, Broken Wings). It’s an affecting dramedy that explores the complications of family ties, the rights of the differently abled, and the melancholy of aging. Closing Night is Beth Elise Hawk’s award-winning Breaking Bread, a delectable documentary love letter to Middle Eastern food and a hopeful look at how cooking and eating together can lead to mutual understanding. The Closing Night screening will be followed by a very special Film to Table reception.

In between, we’ll highlight a great array of films by extremely talented women directors from the US. Irmi, an intimate documentary portrait of a woman who “chose to live,” made by her Academy Award–nominated daughter Veronica Selver and Susan Fanshel; Shared Legacies, Shari Rogers’ utterly fascinating exploration of the alliance between African Americans and Jewish Americans; Shiva Baby, Emma Seligman’s sharp-witted feature debut and an affectionate, caustic comedy about tightly knit families and communities; and Maya Zinshtein’s ’Til Kingdom Come, a provocative examination of the seemingly unexpected yet powerful connection between American evangelicals and Israel’s right wing.

Continuing to highlight extraordinary films from around the world, we are also showing Mauro Mancini’s gripping Italian drama Thou Shalt Not Hate, which zeroes in on redemption and the paradoxes of the human soul in the face of hate; Academy Award–winner Caroline Link’s period piece When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit; Nathanaël Guedj’s romantic comic debut feature If You See my Mother, which mines Oedipal issues for comic effect; Persian Lessons, a gripping, highly original Holocaust drama from the three-time Oscar-nominated director Vadim Perelman (House of Sand and Fog), and the internationally award-winning Labyrinth of Peace, an enthralling six-part TV miniseries. Inspired by little-known events, it offers an intimate portrait of a family trying to move forward in “neutral” Switzerland after World War II.

In addition, we’re remembering the talented actor George Segal with three of his enjoyable films from the 1970s: California Split, A Touch of Class, and The Hot Rock.

To mark the anniversaries of this series and of the JBFC itself, we are proud to share a new initiative called “Breaking Bread: Jewish Stories and Recipes from the JBFC Community.” Many members of the JBFC and JFF communities have contributed their moving, funny, and evocative memories, as well as some absolutely mouthwatering recipes. The book will be available on our website on Oct. 1. Don’t miss it!

I look forward to seeing you in person at the Theater!

—Bruni Burres, festival programmer

For over 25 years, Bruni Burres has been a passionate leader with a proven track record of developing and executing innovative projects at the intersection of arts, culture, and social justice. She is a Senior Consultant for Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program, strategizing and deepening its international work with individual artists and organizations. Bruni is a mentor and partner with the Close-Up Documentary Training program for emerging Middle East and North African documentary filmmakers. She cowrote and associate produced Beyond My Grandfather Allende, which won Best Documentary at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, as well as Whose Country? by Mohamed Siam, which had its US premiere at the 2016 New York Film Festival. From 1991 to 2008 she was the director of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, which she also cofounded.

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