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October 29, 2004 2:00 AM
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Boston Jewish Film Festival Embraces Issues and International Offerings

Boston Jewish Film Festival Embraces Issues and International Offerings

by Brian Brooks



Stephane Freiss and Berenice Bejo in a scene from Steve Suissa's "Le Grand Role," which will have its U.S. Premiere at the Boston Jewish Film Festival next month. Image courtesy of the festival.


One of New England's largest Jewish cultural events, the Boston Jewish Film Festival, will open its 16th edition with 45 independently produced films at six locations with work represented from 16 countries. Belgian actress Tania Garbarski will present the first of two opening night screenings on November 3rd at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston with Sam Garbarski's drama about love, family and religion in "The Rashevski's Tango." The following evening, Oscar-nominated director Paul Morrison's "Wondrous Oblivion" will be the second opening offering at the festival's Coolidge Corner Theatre.

Themes of assimilation, interfaith issues and same-sex marriage are pervasive topics in this year's roster, including the world premiere of Stephanie Higgins' "The Gay Marriage" (work-in-progress). Again this year, the festival will offer its "Boston-Haifa Film Connection," a collaboration with the Boston event and the Haifa International Film Festival. Dov Gil-Har's doc "Behind Enemy Lines," in which subjects Benny Hernes, an Israeli police officer, and Palestinian journalist Adnan Joulani reunite in person will screen in the program. Also screening as part of the section is "Paper Snow," by Russian-Israeli duo Slava and Lina Chaplin about the early days of Israel's Habimah Theatre. "Siva for My Mother: Seven Days of Mourning" is also on tap, with filmmaker Yael Katzir attending from Israel, as well as locally based subject, Tami Katzir.

In other festival premieres, Adi Arbel's doc "Lullaby" will have its North American debut. The film presents monologues from seven Israeli and four Palestinian mothers of infants who have died as a result of the current Intifada. French director Steve Suissa's feature about a group of actors who vie for success in "Le Grand Role" (from First Run Features) will have its U.S. premiere as well as Dutch director Gerrit van Dijk's "The Last Words of Dutch Shultz." The film captures gangster Shultz's last words on his deathbed after he was shot in Newark, N.J. The festival will close November 14 with Daniel Burman's 2004 Berlinale Silver Bear-winner "Lost Embrace." The Argentine film focuses on Ariel, who hopes to emigrate to Europe to start a new life. Lead actress Adriana Aizenberg will introduce the film.

"New this year is our hosting of a conference with other Jewish film festivals from around the world," said Sara L. Rubin, executive director of BJFF about this year's new programming in a statement. "We expect staff members from Jewish film festival from seven countries, [including] representatives from Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, London, Mexico City, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and Warsaw [as well as from U.S. cities]."

[ For more information, please visit: http://www.bjff.org. ]

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