Westchester Jewish Film Festival 2017

Mar. 16–Apr. 2, 2017

This year we feature 38 engaging, thought-provoking, and entertaining films—a robust mix of documentaries and narratives, along with all eight episodes of False Flag, one of the latest in Israel’s brilliant streak of political thrillers made for TV.

From Israel, we also present Ori Sivan’s visually stunning and emotionally complex Harmonia, Avi Nesher’s suspenseful and engaging Past Life, and Michal Vinik’s stunning, award-winning feature debut, Blush. In addition, we’re featuring extraordinary new films from around the globe, including Daniel Burman’s The Tenth Man (a delicious and wry peek into Buenos Aires’ bustling Jewish quarter) Maria Schrader’s timely Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe (chronicling the writer’s life in exile in the Americas during Hitler’s rise to power) and this year’s festival centerpiece, from daring US director Ferne Pearlstein: The Last Laugh, which deftly explores the taboo subject of humor in the Holocaust.

All this plus a very special look at pioneer filmmaker Joan Micklin Silver’s “Jewish trilogy.”

The festival kicks off with Academy Award–nominated director Joseph Cedar’s (Footnote) dramatic comedy Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, with a fabulous central performance by Richard Gere! Please plan to join us—and our wonderful slate of guests—throughout the festival.

—Bruni Burres, festival programmer

Directed by Joan Micklin Silver and coproduced by The National Yiddish Book Center, Great Jewish Stories from Eastern Europe and Beyond is a collection of tales by the giants of Jewish literature, read by celebrated Jewish performers. You can hear a curated selection of these recordings during the festival in the Jane Peck Gallery on the 3rd floor of the Theater, or listen to them here on our website.

See an at a glance version of  the WJFF 2017 schedule!

SERIES TRAILER

False Flag: Program 1Mar. 17–30

False Flag is another entry in Israel’s strong history of brilliant political thrillers made for TV—including Fauda (which we screened last year) and Prisoners of War (from which Homeland was adapted). It tells the surreal story of five ordinary Israeli citizens who wake up one morning and discover they’ve been implicated in the ruthless kidnapping [...]

Past LifeMar. 17–25

In the suspenseful new film from Avi Nesher (The Wonders, The Matchmaker), two Israeli sisters, Nana and Sephi, delve into the dark mystery of their father’s past. Their lives change forever in 1977, when the talented, introspective Sephi has an unsettling encounter with an older woman in Berlin, who hisses “murderer” at her when she [...]

False Flag: Program 2Mar. 18–Apr. 1

False Flag is another entry in Israel’s strong history of brilliant political thrillers made for TV—including Fauda (which we screened last year) and Prisoners of War (from which Homeland was adapted). It tells the surreal story of five ordinary Israeli citizens who wake up one morning and discover they’ve been implicated in the ruthless kidnapping [...]

False Flag: Program 3Mar. 19–Apr. 2

False Flag is another entry in Israel’s strong history of brilliant political thrillers made for TV—including Fauda (which we screened last year) and Prisoners of War (from which Homeland was adapted). It tells the surreal story of five ordinary Israeli citizens who wake up one morning and discover they’ve been implicated in the ruthless kidnapping [...]

The Tenth ManMar. 20–30

Acclaimed Argentine director Daniel Burman (Lost Embrace, Family Law)—a regular to the WJFF—delivers a witty, energetic family comedy-drama that wrestles with intricacies of the father-son relationship, identity, and home. After years living in the US, middle-aged economist Ariel (Alan Sabbagh) returns to the frenetic Jewish district of Buenos Aires where he grew up. Hoping to [...]

To Take a WifeMar. 20–29

Remembering Ronit Elkabetz (1964–2016) Known worldwide for her acclaimed acting performances (Or: My Treasure, Late Marriage, The Band’s Visit, and many more), Ronit Elkabetz was also a talented writer and director who collaborated with her brother Shlomi on a trilogy of unforgettable films: To Take a Wife, 7 Days, and Gett: The Trial of Viviane [...]

The People vs. Fritz BauerMar. 21–25

The newest feature from acclaimed director Lars Kraume (The Coming Days), this historical thriller chronicles the real-life circumstances surrounding the outset of the Auschwitz trials in Frankfurt. In 1957, German Attorney General Fritz Bauer (Burghart Klaussner, Bridge of Spies, The White Ribbon) receives information on the whereabouts of Adolf Eichmann (Michael Schenk, The White Ribbon, [...]

Starting Over AgainMar. 21–28

“I don’t know of many cultures or countries where people were able to live together as they did in Egypt after the Second World War,” says filmmaker Ruggero Gabbai. It was a rare golden age of tolerance and prosperity. Gabbai’s impressive documentary chronicles the many Jewish families who flourished in this rich environment, as proudly [...]

The Last LaughMar. 22–31

They say that comedy is tragedy plus time. The question is how much time has to pass before it’s all right to take a tragic, traumatizing event and use it as a framing device for a joke. Can the Holocaust ever be funny? Director Ferne Pearlstein (Sumo East and West, Imelda) gathers top comedians and [...]

Stefan Zweig: Farewell to EuropeMar. 22–25

Acclaimed as an actor, Maria Schrader (Aimée and Jaguar, In Darkness) exhibits her sharp directorial craft by chronicling the years Stefan Zweig, one of the most-read German-language writers of his time, spent in exile. The film, told in five chapters, follows Zweig from the early 1930s until 1942, between Buenos Aires, New York, and Brazil. [...]

Keep QuietMar. 23–31

In 2012, as vice president of Jobbik, Hungary’s extreme far-right party, Csanad Szegedi regularly espoused anti-Semitic rhetoric and Holocaust denials. He was a founder of the Hungarian Guard, a now-banned militia inspired by the Arrow Cross, a pro-Nazi party complicit in the murder of thousands of Jews during World War II. Then came a revelation [...]

How to Win EnemiesMar. 23–26

Following his wonderful Jews in Space, Gabriel Lichtmann presents contemporary Jewish life in Argentina through this new comedy-thriller. Lucas, a young Buenos Aires Jewish lawyer and a mystery buff (he even has a dog named Sherlock) meets smart, sexy Barbara at a local café and is immediately smitten. Barbara goes home with him and spends [...]

7 DaysMar. 23–30

Remembering Ronit Elkabetz (1964–2016) Known worldwide for her acclaimed acting performances (Or: My Treasure, Late Marriage, The Band’s Visit, and many more), Ronit Elkabetz was also a talented writer and director who collaborated with her brother Shlomi on a trilogy of unforgettable films: To Take a Wife, 7 Days, and Gett: The Trial of Viviane [...]

A Jewish Girl in ShanghaiMar. 23–26

A Jewish Girl in Shanghai, based on Wu Lin’s superb popular graphic novel, is the first animated film from China to depict the Holocaust. This beautifully crafted story offers a rare glimpse of Shanghai’s Little Vienna—the neighborhood where 30,000 Jewish refugees found shelter during WWII. The story centers around the extraordinary friendship between Rina, a [...]

Dimona TwistMar. 23–Apr. 1

Michal Aviad’s enchanting documentary tells the story of seven women who, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, moved from Casablanca (and other vibrant cities in the Middle East and Eastern Europe) to Israel, with dreams of a harmonious Jewish Garden of Eden—and found themselves in Dimona, a recently established town in the middle of [...]

Germans & JewsMar. 24–26

Today’s Germany could not have been imagined in 1945. Berlin is now home to Europe’s fastest-growing Jewish population, and the country is praised as one of the world’s most democratic societies and moral leaders, in large part due to its embrace of hundreds of thousands of refugees. Through intimate, personal stories Germans & Jews, explores [...]

Gett: The Trial of Viviane AmsalemMar. 24–Apr. 2

Remembering Ronit Elkabetz (1964–2016) Known worldwide for her acclaimed acting performances (Or: My Treasure, Late Marriage, The Band’s Visit, and many more), Ronit Elkabetz was also a talented writer and director who collaborated with her brother Shlomi on a trilogy of unforgettable films: To Take a Wife, 7 Days, and Gett: The Trial of Viviane [...]

Aida's SecretsMar. 24–29

Alon and Shaul Schwarz’s thought-provoking documentary unfolds like a mystery novel as the brothers follow their 70-year-old Uncle Izak’s quest to finally learn the truth about his past. Izak Szewelwicz was born in the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp in 1945 and sent for adoption in Israel. He had a very happy childhood, but always felt [...]

The Women's BalconyMar. 25–Apr. 1

This delightful feature debut from Emil Ben-Shimon demonstrates the importance of community, values, and tradition, and the power of women to hold it all together. A bar mitzvah morning begins auspiciously, with excited guests in their Sabbath best making their way through Jerusalem’s streets. But after the women’s balcony in their Orthodox synagogue collapses, the [...]

Hester StreetMar. 26

Celebrating Joan Micklin Silver: A Pioneering Filmmaker In the early 1970s, Joan Micklin Silver, a blossoming television writer/director, was ready to make her first feature film, Hester Street. Studio heads praised her credits but insisted that women were “one more problem” they didn’t need and that Jewish films would never reach a general audience. So [...]

AKA NadiaMar. 26–Apr. 1

Maya Goldwasser is a talented and extremely successful Israeli choreographer, devoted wife of an official at the Israeli Ministry of Justice, and caring mother of two teenagers. Her life seems perfect, but she is being torn apart on the inside by a dark secret she’s kept from everyone for over 20 years: Maya was born [...]

Every Face Has a NameMar. 27–29

This documentary presents octogenarian Holocaust survivors transported in time to the extraordinary moment in April 1945, when—liberated from German concentration camps and facing an uncertain future—they arrived in Malmo, Sweden. After seeing the original 35mm footage (now digitally restored) that Swedish news photographers had captured that day, acclaimed director Magnus Gertten tracked down many of [...]

Crossing DelanceyMar. 27

Celebrating Joan Micklin Silver: A Pioneering Filmmaker In the early 1970s, Joan Micklin Silver, a blossoming television writer/director, was ready to make her first feature film, Hester Street. Studio heads praised her credits but insisted that women were “one more problem” they didn’t need and that Jewish films would never reach a general audience. So [...]

On the MapMar. 28–Apr. 2

As the Middle East was still reeling from the 1972 Olympic massacre at Munich, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and the 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight from Tel Aviv, the Israeli basketball team Maccabi won the 1977 European Championships, against all odds. Moments after this highly charged and historic win, Israeli-American basketball hero [...]

Bogdan’s JourneyMar. 28

For Catholic Pole Bogdan Bialek, a courageous teacher, charismatic public intellectual, and trained psychologist, anti-Semitism is a sin—and this conviction is the animating force of his life. Since arriving in Kielce, Poland, in the 1970s, Bialek has unwaveringly challenged his neighbors to confront the truth about the darkest moment in their past: In 1946, 40 [...]

The SettlersMar. 29–Apr. 1

With extraordinary access, award-winning Israeli filmmaker Shimon Dotan (Hot House) traces the history of Israeli settlements in the West Bank since Israel’s decisive victory in the 1967 Six-Day War. While government leaders and the Israeli public initially saw the military victory as an opportunity for a negotiated peace, Jewish religious zealots saw it as a [...]

Joachim Prinz: I Shall Not Be SilentMar. 30

As the civil rights of Jews were systematically being stripped away in 1930s Berlin, one young rabbi refused to be silent. His name was Joachim Prinz. Uncowed by Nazi monitoring and repeated arrests, Prinz continued to let his voice be heard, urging Jews to leave Germany. Finally expelled from the country in 1937, Prinz himself [...]

The Wonderful Kingdom of Papa AlaevMar. 31

The Wonderful Kingdom of Papa Alaev is a modern-day Shakespearean tale about a famous Tajik musical family: seven grandchildren, two sons, a daughter—and one Papa Alaev, a gifted musician, divine raconteur, ex-wrestler, sometimes-drunk, and the indisputable leader of the tribe. Papa rules his celebrated folk music clan with an iron tambourine. Beginning with the unilateral [...]

None Shall EscapeMar. 31

None Shall Escape is one of a kind, and we’re lucky to be able to present this rare screening. Made in 1943, this is the only wartime Hollywood drama to depict what would later be called the Holocaust. Scripted by Lester Cole (later one of the House Un-American Activities’ “Hollywood Ten”), the film anticipates the [...]