Art Basel is over, but Miami’s next cultural extravaganza isn’t far off. The Miami Jewish Film Festival (MJFF) will return this January for its 21st year. January 11 through 25, MJFF will screen 62 films from 20 countries and host numerous filmmakers and special guests.
“This year’s Miami Jewish Film Festival program is monumental in the breadth of talent breaking through in each of the beautifully rich, distinct, and emotional stories that transcend geographical boundaries,” says Igor Shteyrenberg, executive director of MJFF.
“It is during uncertain and tumultuous times like these that we most need artists and storytellers, and this year’s program is a testament to the unending capacity of film to move us, impact our lives, and even provide much-needed escapism. In their own unique way, these 62 films will fill you with hope and optimism at the unique power of our medium to inspire a true sense of wonder.”
The festival will open with the premiere of Alison Chernick’s documentary Itzhak, about the world-famous violinist Itzkah Perlman, accompanied by a live performance of Perlman’s music by the Amernet String Quartet. The premiere of Sam Pollard’s documentary Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me will close out the festival.
Music is a running theme throughout the 2018 lineup. The fest will also show films such as Django, a period drama focused on jazz legend Django Reinhardt, and Good Deeds: The Conductor Zubin Mehta, which celebrates the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra conductor’s life and work. Both events will be accompanied by live performances, with the latter performed by the Alhambra Quartet and paired with an introduction by conductor Daniel Andai.
In partnership with Coral Gables Art Cinema and its After Hours program, MJFF will also screen René Laloux’s classic animated feature, Fantastic Planet, with a live score by Mystvries, a synthwave artist signed to the Miami record label Bribery Corporation.
“In the last four years, the Miami Jewish Film Festival has grown from a small local event to one of the top Jewish film festivals in the world,” MJFF chair Gary Yarus says. “It has become a world-class destination event known for showcasing the best in cinema and for its commitment to educate, build community, and stimulate discussion and thought. This year’s program has something for everyone, from star-studded films to noteworthy foreign dramas.”
Three films will receive world premieres at the festival this year. They are Dennis Scholl and Kareem Tabsch’s Miami Beach-centric documentary, The Last Resort, a portrait of American photographer Andy Sweet; Ken Winikur’s A Call to Remember, about local Holocaust survivor David Schaecter; and Lisa Ades’ GI Jews: Jewish Americans in WWII, which tells the story of 555,000 Jewish people who served in World War II.
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GI Jews is also one of 12 films this year directed by women. Also included in the bunch are works like Silvia Quer’s period drama, The Light of Hope, and the much-talked-about documentary Bombshell! The Hedy Lamarr Story, about the classic starlet who also invented technology used for war and Wi-Fi.
In addition to all of this, MJFF will celebrate Israel’s 70th birthday with the specially curated program Israel at 70, headlined by the premiere of Ben-Gurion, Epilogue, winner of the Ophir Award, AKA the Israeli Oscars, for best documentary. The film documents conversations with Israel’s founding father, and attending the screening will be Alon Ben-Gurion, the grandson of David Ben-Gurion, who will participate in an extended conversation with the audience. Also featured will be Samuel Maoz’s Foxtrot, which is Israel’s submission for the Academy Awards’ Best Foreign Language category; Eran Riklis’ thriller Shelter; and Savi Gabizon’s Longing, which won the audience award at the Venice Film Festival.
Miami Jewish Film Festival. January 11 through 25, 2018, at various venues; miamijewishfilmfestival.org. Single screening tickets cost $13; festival passes cost $275.