Washington filmgoers will soon be treated to a dynamic program of contemporary films ranging from indie romances and coming-of-age tales to heavy-hitting documentaries dealing with universal experiences such as divorce and mental illness. Today, the Washington DC Jewish Community Center announced the lineup for the 2013 Washington Jewish Film Festival (WJFF), one of the world’s oldest and largest Jewish film festivals, offering a contemporary mix of narrative films and documentaries. The festival will span 11 days from January 3-13, 2013 with 55 films from 15 different countries being screened at 14 different venues, and is curated by Ilya Tovbis, the DCJCC’s new film festival director.
“This year’s carefully curated festival is bursting with a wide variety of films and events that will appeal not only to seasoned film-lovers, but also will bring wonderful film experiences to new audiences and casual theater-goers across Washington,” said Carole Zawatsky, DCJCC CEO. “As a regional hub for arts and culture, the DCJCC is proud to bring this exciting lineup of films to locations across the community. The Washington Jewish Film Festival is a 23-year tradition that celebrates Jewish arts and culture and represents the best of what the DCJCC has to offer.”
The festival opens Thursday, January 3 at the United States Navy Memorial. Opening night of the festival is sponsored by the Jacob & Charlotte Lehrman Foundation and features Paris Manhattan, a French film directed by Sophie Lellouche. The parents of Alice, an idealistic pharmacist obsessed with Woody Allen, hope to cure her fixation by setting her up with a handsome French gentleman who quickly realizes that he’s no match for the man of her dreams. The romantic romp through the city of lights, with a special cameo by the original Alvy Singer will be preceded by the short film Woody Before Allen. Paris Manhattan will screen twice on opening night, at 6:15pm and again at 8:45pm, with a reception for all attendees in between the two showings. The film will also have an additional screening on Wednesday, January 9 at 7pm at the AFI Silver Theatre.
This year’s Centerpiece Film features Dorfman, which follows Deb Dorfman, a quirky 28-year-old accountant, as she moves to L.A. in her quest for love. The evening includes an on-stage conversation with actor Elliot Gould, who plays Deb’s father in the movie. The Centerpiece evening is Tuesday, January 8 at 8:30pm at the Avalon Theatre. Dorfman will have an additional screening Wednesday, January 9 at 8:30 pm at the Atlas Performing Arts Center.
The annual WJFF Visionary Award will be presented on January 7 at 8pm at the DCJCC prior to a screening of Slaves of the Sword – Yitzhak Rabin. This year’s honorees are Noemi Schory, one of Israel’s leading TV and film producers and directors, and Katriel Schory, the head of the Israeli Film Fund, which is the largest national supporter of Israeli narrative and documentary films and one of the primary movers in the emergence of Israeli film on the international scene. The Visionary Award recognizes and pays tribute to courage, creativity and insight in presenting the diversity of the Jewish experience through the moving image. As part of the award presentation on January 7, Noemi Schory and Katriel Schory will take part in an on-stage discussion. In addition to Slaves of the Sword – Yitzhak Rabin, the festival will also screen Noemi Schory’s documentary Born in Berlin on Tuesday, January 8.
For the first time, the WJFF will include a short film pub crawl, which will take place January 5 at 5 pm in the U Street area at a number of bars including Tropicalia and Local Sixteen.
The festival concludes January 13 at 7:30 pm at the DCJCC with Hava Nagila (The Movie), a documentary by Academy-Award nominated director Roberta Grossman. This film takes viewers from the shtetls of Eastern Europe to the nightclubs of New York, as Grossman weaves together the history of Hava Nagila, the Jewish standard that transcended its humble origins to become a worldwide phenomenon. The documentary features interviews with Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis, Glen Campbell, Leonard Nimoy and Regina Spektor. The final screening will be followed by a reception. Please note that the director has requested capsule reviews only for this film (no full reviews).
Throughout the festival there are strong French and German influences, as well as 17 different films from Israel. Fifteen countries are represented including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Nigeria, Luxembourg, Poland, Russia, Serbia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
A special focus on French cinema this year features Jennifer Devoldere’s romantic debut, The Day I Saw Your Heart; Thierry Binistri’s adaption of A Bottle in the Gaza Sea about two friends separated by destiny and geography; Mikael Buch’s gay romantic comedy, Let My People Go!; and Sophie Lellouche’s Paris Manhattan, a breezy romp through an obsession with both Woody Allen and the City of Lights.
Many of the festival films will appeal to music lovers, including a newly restored 35mm print of The Cantor’s Son, which brings to life Moishe Oysher’s legendary singing voice; Hava Nagila (The Movie) takes you from the shtetls of Eastern Europe to the nightclubs of New York in search of the origins and legacy of the classic Jewish song; I Am Secretly an Important Man delves into the life and work of “The Godfather of Grunge”, Jessie Bernstein; a rare clips retrospective of Lou Reed is presented by music archivist Bill Shelley; Orchestra of Exiles looks at the founding of the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra; and a selection of music videos by Israeli animator Adam Bizanski.
Film lovers will be treated to comedies, dramas, documentaries, animated films, and shorts. Many of the filmmakers will be present at screenings, which has been noted in this release below the full festival lineup. The festival website is now live at www.wjff.org. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling (202) 777-3231. In addition to single tickets, WJFF will be offering full festival passes for the first time ever ($75 – general, $30 for patrons 30 years old and younger). WJFF is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Art Works.
From January 3-13 the Washington DC Jewish Community Center
will offer the Washington Jewish Film Festival (WJFF), one of the world’s oldest
and largest Jewish film festivals, offering a contemporary mix of narrative
films and documentaries. The festival will span 11 days from with 55 films from
15 different countries being screened at 14 different venues, and is curated by
Ilya Tovbis, the DCJCC’s new film festival director.