Jewish Film Festival Continues
by M. Faust
A guide to the second and final week
The 27th edition of the Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival continues this week with Bride Flight, the most expensive film in the history of Dutch cinema. It is based on the story of women who in 1952 moved from Holland to New Zealand in search of better lives, which at the time meant husbands. The three women at the center of a story that spans several generations include Esther (Anna Drijver), fleeing a home that reminds her of the family she lost in the Nazi camps. It’s a big, emotionally involving story, though be forewarned that, in the tradition of Dutch cinema, it contains some fairly steamy scenes.
Viewers who like to lose themselves in a handsomely produced film with interesting characters and strong production values are the audience for Restoration, an Israeli drama that was well received at the Sundance Film Festival. The setting is an antiques business in Tel Aviv, where a senior restorer is at a loss when his more charismatic and financially adept partner dies. His own son wants to sell the business out from under him, while his new apprentice becomes more than usually involved in the family life.
The documentary Jewish Soldiers in Blue and Gray examines the participations of American Jews in the Civil War, when 7,000 Jewish men served in the Union Army and 3,000 wore the Confederate uniform. Director Jonathan Gruber also explores seldom-discussed issues about the War Between the States, including General Ulysses Grant’s expulsion of Jews from his territory
Cemeteries are as fascinating as they are often beautiful, so much that many people visit them despite having no loved ones interred there. Director Britta Wauer’s fascination with Berlin’s Weissensee Jewish Cemetery is the source of In Heaven Underground, a documentary that mixes footage of the forested preserve with interviews of survivors whose family members were laid to rest here during WWII. The New York Times calls the film “poetic and exquisite.”
Ahead of Time is a portrait of Ruth Gruber, who, at the age of 101, recalls her career as a photojournalist and international foreign correspondent. She was the first journalist to enter the Soviet Arctic in 1935.
You may have seen Israeli author Amos Oz when he visited Buffalo last year as part of the Babel series. The Nature of Dreams follows him over two years after the publication of his memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness, as he seeks to promote the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A four-year-old Palestinian boy born without an immune system is at the center of Precious Life, a documentary about attempts to save his life (with a bone marrow transplant) that bring public attention when the boy’s mother becomes seen as a supporter of terrorists.
All screenings will take place in the new Maxine & Robert Seller Theatre in the Jewish Community Center’s Benderson Family Building. For the complete schedule and ticket information, and to see trailers of the films, visit www.bijff.com.
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