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Central Mass. Jewish Film Festival begins Jan. 21

By Stacey Dresner

WORCESTER – The 2017 Central Mass. Jewish Film Festival, running from Jan. 21 – Jan. 31, will feature five films celebrating the Jewish Experience. A sixth film, “Nicky’s Family” will be screened as a coming attraction on March 31.

The film festival is presented by the Worcester JCC and made possible through a generous grant from the Jewish Federation of Central Mass.

The films will be screened in the Worcester JCC auditorium, the Worcester Senior Center, The Willows at Worcester’s Great Room and at St. John’s High School’s Ryken Center in Shrewsbury.

“We have been showing films at St. John’s High School for 10 years now. It is a great venue for us as the size of the theater is just right, with comfortable seating,” said Nancy Greenberg, cultural arts director at the Worcester JCC and director of the film festival. “Also important, Shrewsbury is convenient for those from Westboro and Worcester and everything in between. Our festival is generously funded by the Jewish Federation of Central Mass, and this includes the geographical area from Worcester to Westboro (and more).”

Greenberg has coordinated the film festival for the past 10 years.

“The selection of films this year was challenging because our festival is small and there were so many worthy films to choose from,” she explained. “Because our festival consists of five films, plus an encore showing, it is important to have the right mix of films.”

The festival will include three Israeli films, including the opening night film, “A.K.A. Nadia,” “Harmonia” and “The Women’s Balcony.” This is the most Israeli films ever shown at the festival.

“That is because the caliber of the films from Israel these days is amazing,” Greenberg said.

The only American film – and only documentary – will be “The Last Laugh” an exploration as to whether the Holocaust is off-limits in comedy. The list of films also includes “The Origin of Violence,” a French drama about long-buried secrets and family betrayal.

“I think there is something for everyone in the lineup,” Greenberg said.


The Film Schedule:

Sat, Jan 21, 7:30 p.m., $15
St. John’s High School, Ryken Center, Shrewsbury
115 minutes; English, Hebrew, and Arabic with English subtitles

Maya Goldwasser, a mom and the wife of an Israeli official of the Ministry of Justice was born Nadia to a Palestinian family. After getting involved with Nimer, a PLO activist, in her youth, she secretly took on a new identity as an Israeli Jew. When Nimer reappears, Nadia is forced to confront her past.



Tues, Jan 24, 7:15 p.m., $10
The Willows at Worcester, Great Room
88 minutes; English

Are we allowed to make jokes about tragedy? 
“The Last Laugh” features clips from films and TV shows, performances, and interviews with top comedians and prominent Jewish leaders (including Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, Joan Rivers, Abraham Foxman, and many others) on whether joking about the Holocaust and other human atrocities is ever acceptable.



Sat, Jan 28, 7:30 p.m., $15
St. John’s High School, Ryken Center, Shrewsbury
116 minutes; German and French with English subtitles

While on a research trip to Germany, a young Catholic teacher stumbles upon a photo of a Jewish prisoner in Buchenwald who bears a striking resemblance to his father. His discovery prompts him to look into his family’s past.



Sun, Jan 29, 1:00 pm, $15
St. John’s High School, Ryken Center, Shrewsbury
98 minutes; Hebrew with English Subtitles

A contemporary adaptation of the biblical tale of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, set in present-day Jerusalem.



Tues, Jan 31, 7:15 p.m., $10
Worcester JCC Auditorium 633 Salisbury St., Worcester
96 minutes; Hebrew with English subtitles

When the women’s balcony in an Orthodox Jerusalem synagogue collapses during a bar mitzvah celebration, the close-knit Sephardic congregation falls into crisis.



Fri, Mar 31, 1 p.m., Free
Worcester Senior Center 128 Providence St., Worcester
96 minutes;
 UK, Czech Republic, English

The heartwarming, true story of “Britain’s Schindler”, Nicholas Winton, who organized the rescue of 669 Czech children, most of them Jewish, with his own personal “kindertransports”, just before the outbreak of World War II. Following the film, special guest Eva (Fleischmann) Paddock, a “Winton Child” will speak.


Tickets for the Central Mass. Jewish Film Festival can be purchased online at; at the Worcester JCC, 633 Salisbury St., or at the door (subject to availability). For more information, call (508) 756-7109.

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