The Jewish International Film Festival is back for 2018. Screening again at Dendy Cinemas, Canberra will enjoy a selection of 24 features from the huge national line-up of 64 films. It all starts in a JIFFy, kicking off tonight and running from 1 – 11 November.
With a diverse mix of films, the festival offering is split predominantly between documentaries aplenty and much drama, with both a comedy and a thriller thrown in for good measure. Of the 24 features showing, four will screen twice; the remainder will screen only once.
With several significant co-productions, this year’s features again come from here, there and everywhere: Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, Palestine, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Ukraine and the USA.
Opening Night feature The Interpreter (2018) leads the line as an odd couple set out to discover their shared history. A comedy/drama and redemptive road-movie of sorts, 80-year-old Ali Ungar seeks out a former SS Officer he suspects is responsible for the deaths of his parents in Slovakia during WWII. Instead, he finds the officer’s son – 70-year-old Georg. Knowing little about his own father, Georg enlists Ali as his interpreter as they traipse through Slovakia’s countryside and past. Screening Nov 1, 7 PM and Nov 5, 2 PM.
Ten more films screen at the weekend including several gripping documentaries. US doco The Twinning Reaction (2017) tells the true story of one of many ethically questionable experiments of yesteryear – in this case, the 1960s Neubauer-Bernard study of twins separated at birth and the effects on the children and their adoptive families in the ensuing decades.
The Waldheim Waltz (2017) chronicles the ascent of Kurt Waldheim to the 1986 Austrian presidency following his tenure as the fourth Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1972 to 1981. Mired in controversy, Waldheim’s rise was tarnished following the revelations of his involvement in war-time atrocities. Winner of Best Documentary at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival. Screening Nov 3, 12 PM.
There’s also Itzhak (2018), the moving and inspirational portrait of Itzhak Perlman’s life journey: birth in 1945 Tel-Aviv followed by a polio-stricken youth before becoming a world-renowned violin virtuoso. Madam Prime Minister (2018) reassesses the legacy and influence of polarizing figure Golda Meir – the first and only Prime Minister of Israel, and feminist icon – forty years on from her death.
Other weekend features include the star-studded Holy Lands (2018), adapted from French director Amanda Sther’s own novel Les Terres Saintes, which sees Harry (James Caan) uncharacteristically opting to relocate from New York to retire as a pig farmer in Nazareth. Left in his wake Stateside are ex-wife Monica (Rosanna Arquette) and adult children Anabelle and David (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) in this multi-faceted family drama.
Also, be sure to look out for Red Cow (2018), the coming-of-age tale of forbidden love which picked up Best Israeli Film, Best Debut Film and Best Actress at the 2018 Jerusalem Film Festival.
Next week, there’s plenty more true-life tales to look forward to with documentaries The Oslo Diaries (2017) and Studio 54: The Documentary (2018), each recounting distinctly significant moments in history: the clandestine negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians which would ultimately lead to the Oslo Accords, and the birth of the bombastic Studio 54 – the nerve centre of the hedonistic 70s.
Tap in to some festival thrills with four-way co-production and Rotterdam International Film Festival award-winner The Reports On Sarah and Saleem (2017) as an affair between lovers on different sides of the Israeli-Palestine conflict threatens much more than just their marriages; and Shelter (2017) which sees an Israeli Mossad agent holed up and protecting her charge – a Lebanese informant fresh from identity-transforming facial surgery – in a Hamburg safe-house. As their relationship grows over two weeks, this subtle thriller builds tension as beliefs, identities and motivations are all questioned.
For a somewhat lighter fare, check out family comedy The Samuel Project (2018). For the first time, Eli really gets to know his grandfather Samuel after deciding to make him the subject of an animated art project for school. Subsequently, Eli learns that there is a great deal more to his grandfather than he had previously realized. Screening Sat Nov 10, 2:30 PM.
An important fixture on the 2018 JIFF calendar will be the screening of new historical epic, Sobibor (2018), which commemorates the 75th anniversary of the concentration camp uprising in Poland during WWII. This Russian production highlights the triumph of the human spirit during the only successful rebellion in the history of the death camps. Screening Sun Nov 11, 4:30 PM.
Head to the Official Website for more information on the festival, films, prices, and scheduling.
Pick up tickets from the Dendy Box Office or online.
Discounted tickets are available for under 30s/ $15 upon presentation of valid ID.
Adults / $21.50, Concession / $18.50.