This year’s lineup for the Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival includes dramas, comedies, documentaries and thrillers, covering a range of topics from heroism and identity to social justice and acceptance.
“Together, they are a fantastic snapshot of diverse and vibrant Jewish life around the world,” said Debbie L. Krivoy, festival director.
The Springfield Jewish Community Center will present film festival March 15-27 with numerous film screenings at 18 community venues in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties.
The film festival features nearly two weeks of inspiring, entertaining and thought-provoking films that explore independent cinema through a distinctly Jewish lens.
It is one of the Jewish community’s biggest outreach opportunities, a chance to share experiences and learn about others’ lives through the language of film. “Today, bringing people together to celebrate and talk about different cultures and ideas is more important than ever,” Krivoy said.
Showcasing both emerging and established filmmakers, this year’s line-up features award-winning films from nine countries, providing a global perspective on the Jewish experience.
Many of the screenings are regional or Massachusetts premieres.
In celebration of Israel’s 70th birthday, the 2018 festival includes a specially curated film series called “Framing Israel,” headlined by “Ben-Gurion, Epilogue,” winner of Israel’s Academy Award for best documentary of the year. Dr. Clinton Bailey, lead interviewer in the film, will be in attendance. Other Israeli films include the music documentary “East Jerusalem West Jerusalem;” the thriller “Shelter” by veteran filmmaker Eran Riklis; the documentary “The Settlers;” and the drama “Scaffolding,” winner of Best Israeli Film at the Jerusalem Film Festival.
This year’s festival showcases two films by Massachusetts filmmakers. “GI Jews: Jewish Americans in World War II” is about the 550,000 Jewish men and women who served in the U.S. military during WWII. The film was produced and directed by Lisa Ades of Amherst. “Etched in Glass: The Legacy of Steve Ross,” directed by Natick-based Roger Lyons, tells the true story of Boston’s Steve Ross who survived 10 concentration camps as a Polish boy during the Holocaust.
The festival will include two family-friendly films. In the animated classic “An American Tail,” a young mouse and his family emigrate from Russia to the United States by boat. Winner of 22 Best Film Audience Awards, “Fanny’s Journey” is the rare World War II period piece that’s exciting and inspirational for children 11 and older.
“We have always been a festival that embraces intergenerational programming,” Krivoy said. “We are a diverse community — of college students, families with young children, adults and seniors — and we screen compelling, award-winning films that reflect us all.”
“My Mexican Shivah” will be shown as well. Alejandro Springall’s 2007 comedy tells a surprisingly universal story, even though its title implies otherwise.
The festival closes on March 27 with “Keep the Change.” Rachel Israel’s romantic comedy is about two adults with autism who strike up an unlikely and transformative relationship. The film won the Best Narrative Feature award at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.
Q & As with filmmakers, scholars, musicians and community leaders will provide a post-screening perspective and engage festival audiences in interactive discussions.
The festival is in its 13th season, and Krivoy credits that to exceptional films that resonate on many levels with audiences. “They make us laugh, cry and think deeply about our world and our own lives,” she said, adding that along with the film screenings, there is a range of filmmaker Q & A’s, concerts and panel discussions, which bring people together for valued community conversations.
The Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival is a nonprofit community arts festival. Because ticket sales cover only about 12 percent of the festival’s production expenses, it relies on grants and donations to help maintain reasonable ticket prices, extend community reach and strengthen the festival’s long-term impact on artists and audiences in Western Massachusetts.
Seating for all screenings is limited and early arrival is recommended. Tickets will be sold at the door subject to availability; advance purchase is recommended as films do sell out.
For ticket information, film trailers, up-to-the-minute schedule details and venues, visit pvjff.org or contact the Springfield JCC at 413-739-4715.