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Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival Celebrates 10th Anniversary – Hit Films, Hot Topics and Special Appearances On Tap April 12-26

SPRINGFIELD – The 10th annual Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival (PVJFF) will present 20 award-winning, entertaining and thought-provoking films from April 12-26, including New England and Pioneer Valley premieres of films from France, Germany, Poland, Israel and the United States.

The festival line-up – representing 6 countries and screening over 15 days at 15 venues across the region – includes all genres, from comedy, drama and animation to documentary and thriller. A variety of post-screening programs have been created through partnerships with the area’s colleges and universities, the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival and other Jewish communal organizations. In celebration of its 10th anniversary, the PVJFF will also feature retrospective screenings of Audience Award winners from the past.

“We are very excited about this milestone achievement and we are confident that the Pioneer Valley community will enjoy this year’s impressive roster of films and special events,” said festival director Carlin Preisick Trietsch. “To mark our 10th anniversary, we’ve selected exceptionally strong films showcasing the breadth and depth of Jewish identity, culture, heritage and diversity.”


PVJFF Schedule:


2 p.m., Springfield JCC, Auditorium, 1160 Dickinson St., Springfield

A Matter of Size

Co-directors Sharon Maymon and Erez Tadmor find both wit and soul in four big guys’ efforts to master an ancient sport and accept themselves for the (large) people they are. With echoes of The Full Monty, A Matter of Size follows its own funny (and Jewish) path from body shame to body celebration. A snack reception will precede the screening.



7 p.m., Smith College, Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall, Northampton

24 Days

The kidnapping and torture of a young French-Moroccan Jew, and the harrowing ordeal of his family, are given a searing dramatization in this white-knuckle thriller. 24 Days raises troubling questions about the state of anti-Semitism and race relations in contemporary France. Co-sponsored by Smith College Jewish Studies Program and Film Studies Program and by the French Consulate.



7 p.m., Garden Cinemas, 361 Main St., Greenfield


Israel’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, Bethlehem is a cliffhanger centered on the tragic relationship between an Israeli intelligence officer and his Palestinian informant. Shuttling back and forth between conflicting points of view, the film is a raw portrayal of characters torn apart by competing loyalties and impossible moral dilemmas.



7 p.m., Glenbrook Middle School, 110 Cambridge Circle, Longmeadow

Beneath the Helmet

Beneath the Helmet: From High School to the Home Front is a coming of age story that highlights five young Israeli high school graduates, who are drafted into the army to defend their country. These young individuals undergo a demanding journey, revealing the core of who they are and who they want to be. Co-sponsored by Diane Troderman.



7 p.m., UMass Amherst, Flavin Auditorium, Isenberg 137, Amherst

Self Made

Self Made tells the story of two women – one Israeli, the other Palestinian – who are trapped within their respective worlds. After a mix-up at a checkpoint, they find themselves living the life of the other on the opposite side of the border. Introduction by Robin Blaetz, Professor of Film Studies, Mount Holyoke College. Co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival.



7 p.m., Springfield College, Marsh Memorial Chapel, Springfield

Berlin Calling

In an effort to confront her family’s dark past, a punk-chick from California traces her father’s roots back to pre-war Berlin, discovering not only how her family was affected by Hitler’s Final Solution, but that her family is larger than anyone imagined. Post-screening Skype session with producer/director Nigel Dick and cast member Kastle Waserman. Co-sponsored by Springfield College Holocaust Committee and Spiritual Life Center.



8:15 p.m., Smith College, Stoddard Hall Auditorium, 23 Elm St.

Little White Lie

Growing up Jewish in Woodstock, NY, filmmaker Lacey Schwartz and her family explained away her tawny complexion by pointing to a picture of her father’s swarthy Sicilian Jewish grandfather. But her nagging doubts compell her to begin tugging at the threads of her identity, unraveling family mysteries. Post-screening Q&A with filmmaker Lacey Schwartz. Co-sponsored by Women’s Philanthropy of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, and Smith College Jewish Studies Program and Film Studies Program.



7 p.m., Pothole Pictures, Memorial Hall, 51 Bridge St., Shelburne Falls

Waltz with Bashir

An old friend tells director Ari Folman about a recurring nightmare. They conclude there’s a connection to their IDF mission in the first Lebanon War. Ari can’t remember that period of his life and interviews old comrades to discover the truth about that time and himself. With a mix of animation and real footage, the film re-creates the disconnect of war. Won 6 Ophir (Israeli Academy) Awards and a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Live music by Daniel Hales and the Frost Heaves (indie rock) at 7:30 p.m.



2 p.m., Yiddish Book Center, Hampshire College Campus,

1021 West St., Amherst


In this early Yiddish “talkie,” musical queen Molly Picon is “Mamele” (little mother), the dutiful daughter keeping her family intact after the death of their mother. She’s so busy cooking, cleaning and matchmaking, that she has little time for herself, until she discovers a handsome violinist across the courtyard!



2 p.m., Springfield JCC Auditorium, 1160 Dickinson St., Springfield, MA


In the late 1980s, on the brink of the collapse of the Soviet Union, tens of thousands of Soviet Jews were finally allowed to leave the USSR for the U.S. Unlike their “refusenik” predecessors, they had to prove “reasonable fear of persecution.” Thousands were denied refugee status, leaving them stateless. Post-screening panel discussion with director Michael Drob, Yana Powers and Alex Kogan. Moderated by Bob Marmor, President & CEO, Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts. Co-sponsored by Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts and the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts.



7 p.m., Mount Holyoke College, Gamble Auditorium, Art Building, 50 College St., South Hadley

My Italian Secret: The Forgotten Heroes

My Italian Secret reveals a clandestine Italian resistance that helped save much of the country’s Jewish population during the Shoah. An estimated 80 percent of Italy’s Jews survived thanks to Italian citizens who risked their own lives to defy the Nazis. Post-screening discussion with Lawrence Fine, Professor of Religion and Jewish Studies, Mount Holyoke College. Co-sponsored by Mount Holyoke College Department of Jewish Studies, Film Studies Program and Italian Studies Program.



7 p.m., Garden Cinemas, 361 Main St., Greenfield


When a group of best friends in Tel Aviv gather to watch UniverSong, they record their own song on a mobile phone. Their performance is seen by the UniverSong judges, and they are reluctantly thrown into the spotlight as Israel’s next official entry. After initial reservations, they decide to go for it and find themselves on a flamboyant journey toward international stardom.



7 p.m., Elms College, Alumnae Library Theater, 291 Springfield St., Chicopee

The Return

After the Holocaust and Soviet era, Poland’s remaining 20,000 Jews hid their identity from their children. With the fall of Communism, these young Jews began learning their long-buried ancestry. The Return focuses on four women in their 20s trying to create an identity, with little knowledge of their heritage. Post-screening Q&A with director Adam Zucker. Co-sponsored by Elms College Office of Diversity Support Services.



1:30 p.m., Springfield JCC, Auditorium, 1160 Dickinson St., Springfield

When Comedy Went to School

Why are there so many Jewish comedians? An entertaining portrait of this country’s greatest generation of comics – the generation that includes the likes of Jerry Lewis, Sid Caesar, Jackie Mason, Mort Sahl and Jerry Stiller. Co-sponsored by JCC Arts in the Afternoon.



7 p.m., Amherst Cinema, 28 Amity St., Amherst

Run Boy Run

Run Boy Run tells the true story of a Polish boy and his solitary struggle to outlast the Nazi occupation and keep alive his Jewish faith. Escaping the Warsaw ghetto, he flees to the woods and learns to hide from SS patrols and scour for food, until loneliness and the harsh onset of winter drive him back to civilization. Co-sponsored by the German Consulate General in Boston.



7 p.m., Rave Cinemas West Springfield 15, 864 Riverdale St., West Springfield


(See April 13 for description)



6:30 p.m., Glenmeadow Retirement, 24 Tabor Crossing, Longmeadow

Live and Become

An Ethiopian boy is airlifted from a Sudanese refugee camp to Israel in 1984 during Operation Moses. But Shlomo is neither a Jew nor an orphan, just an African boy who wants to fulfill his Ethiopian mother’s parting request that he “go, live, and become.” Winner of 16 U.S. Film Festival Awards and Winner, Best Screenplay at CESAR (French Academy Awards). Co-sponsored by Glenmeadow Retirement, JCC Community Partner.



4 p.m. & 7:30 p.m., Amherst College, Stirn Auditorium, Mead Art Museum

Eichmann’s Fate

Based on the true story of Lothar Hermann, a concentration camp survivor living in 1950s Argentina who accidentally discovers a trail leading to the notorious Nazi Adolf Eichmann. A carefully choreographed plot by intelligence agents leads to the spectacular capture of Hitler’s right-hand man. Introduction by Christian Rogowski, Professor of German, Amherst College. Co-sponsored by Amherst College Department of German and Office of the Jewish Religious Advisor.



8:15 p.m., Smith College, Stoddard Hall Auditorium, 23 Elm St., Northampton

Zero Motivation

Winning the top prize at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, this film is a dark, comedic portrait of everyday life for a unit of young, female Israeli soldiers. At a remote desert base these characters push paper and play computer games, counting down the minutes until they return to civilian life. Post-screening discussion with Justin Cammy, Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and Comparative Literature, Smith College. Co-sponsored by Smith College Jewish Studies Program and Film Studies Program.



8:15 p.m., Basketball Hall of Fame, Auditorium, 1000 Hall of Fame Ave., Springfield

Run Boy Run

(See April 21 for film description)



4 p.m., Springfield JCC, Auditorium, 1160 Dickinson St. Springfield

Gloomy Sunday

The film flashes back from the 1990s to the early 1930s in Budapest, where three people are caught in a love triangle. Lászlò, a Jewish restaurant owner, loves his assistant, Ilona. She loves him and the young piantist András. Their situation becomes perilous when a German restaurant patron returns as a member of the SS. A snack reception will precede the screening. Mature audiences (violence, nudity).



12:30 p.m., Smith College, Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall, Northampton

Havana Curveball

Taking his rabbi’s requirement to help “heal the world” to heart, 13-year-old bar mitzvah boy Mica plans to send baseballs to Cuba. Part travelogue and part coming-of-age story, Havana Curveball provides insights into the state of relations between the U.S. and Cuba and the idealism of youth. For ages 10 and up. Pizza lunch included. Post-screening discussion and Youth Activism Showcase, celebrating local young people involved in service projects.

Co-sponsored by Circles for Jewish Living and Lander-Grinspoon Academy.

The Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival is produced by the Springfield Jewish Community Center and is funded in part by a grant from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. Ticket prices are $9 for general admission, $7 for students/seniors (65+), or a four-pack can be purchased for $32. Tickets can be purchased in person, via phone and by mail at the Springfield JCC. Seating for all screenings is limited and early arrival is recommended. Tickets will be sold at the door subject to availability; all seating is general admission and the program is subject to change. All events are under Hartford Kashrut Commission supervision.

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