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Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival Celebrates 13 Years

SPRINGFIELD — The Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival announces its 13th season, featuring nearly two weeks of films that explore the best of independent cinema through a distinctly Jewish lens.

Presented by the Springfield Jewish Community Center, the film festival takes place March 15-27, with screenings and special events at 18 community venues throughout Western Massachusetts.

The festival will feature 20 award-winning films from nine countries, providing a global perspective on the Jewish experience.

“This year’s line-up will stir emotions and inspire conversation,” said Deb Krivoy, Festival Director. “We are proud to be the hub of Jewish cinema in the Valley, and we look forward to sharing this culturally significant selection of films with audiences across Western Mass.”

The festival opens on Thursday, March 15 with “Bye Bye Germany” at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst. Starring Moritz Bleibtreu as a defiant Holocaust survivor looking to strike it rich in postwar Frankfurt, the film is a brisk, polished drama tempered with bittersweet humor.

In celebration of Israel’s 70th birthday, the 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 attend. Other Israeli films include the music documentary “East Jerusalem West Jerusalem”; the thriller “Shelter” by veteran filmmaker Eran Riklis; the provocative documentary “The Settlers”; and the realistic 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, 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.

Many other documentaries are on tap this year. “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story” is a biopic about the Hollywood starlet who was also a talented and inquisitive inventor. In “Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me,” a star-studded roster of interviewees pays tribute to the legendary song-and-dance man. “Big Sonia” is a celebration of one woman’s astonishing resilience and big heart. “Monsieur Mayonnaise” chronicles an artist’s epic adventure into his father’s clandestine role in the French Resistance.

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 U.S. 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 up.

Also notable this year is a retrospective screening of “My Mexican Shivah,” Alejandro Springall’s 2007 bawdy comedy.

The festival closes on March 27, with “Keep the Change” at Rave Cinemas in West Springfield. Rachel Israel’s romantic comedy is about two adults with autism who strike up an unlikely and transformative relationship won the Best Narrative Feature award at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.

Some screenings will feature Q&As with filmmakers, scholars, musicians and community leaders.

For a full description of all of the films, visit www.pvjff.org.

Tickets: $10/general admission; $8/students and seniors (65+), available at www.pvjff.org, by phone at (413) 739-4715, or in person at the Springfield JCC.

 

PVJFF SCHEDULE

Bye Bye Germany

THURSDAY, MARCH 15 – OPENING NIGHT
BYE BYE GERMANY
7 p.m., Yiddish Book Center, Amherst

Reception 6-7 p.m. Q&A with Avinoam Patt, Prof. of Modern Jewish History, University of Hartford.

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 16
MONSIEUR MAYONNAISE

1:30 p.m., Davis Auditorium, D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield
Q&A with Prof. Simon Sibelman, Prof. Emeritus of French, University of Wisconsin

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 16

AN AMERICAN TAIL

5 p.m., Goldstein Auditorium,Springfield JCC, Springfield
Free Shabbat dinner to follow the film.

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 17

SHELTER

8 p.m., Longmeadow High School, Longmeadow

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 17

MY MEXICAN SHIVAH

8 p.m., Pothole Pictures, Memorial Hall, Shelburne Falls
Live music at 7:30 p.m. with Wholesale Klezmer Band. Q&A with Ilan Stavans, Prof. of Latin American and Latino Culture, Amherst College.

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 18

BEN-GURION, EPILOGUE

11 a.m., Goldstein Auditorium, Springfield JCC, Springfield
Q&A with Prof. Clinton Bailey, International Studies at Trinity College. Screening with The Settlers, with light lunch between films.

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 18

THE SETTLERS

2 p.m., Goldstein Auditorium, Springfield JCC, Springfield

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 18

SCAFFOLDING

7 p.m., Amherst Cinema, Amherst

 

MONDAY, MARCH 19

EAST JERUSALEM WEST JERUSALEM

7 p.m., Dever Stage, Parenzo Hall, Westfield State University, Westfield
Introduction by Fr. Warren Savage, Director, Interfaith Center, Westfield State University. Panel moderated by Prof. Elise Young, with Rabbi Efriam Eisen.

 

MONDAY, MARCH 19

FANNY’S JOURNEY

7 p.m., Greenfield Garden Cinemas, Greenfield

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 20

THERE ARE JEWS HERE

1:30 p.m., Goldstein Auditorium, Springfield JCC, Springfield
Discussion with Rabbi James Greene, Springfield JCC

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 20

RAISE THE ROOF

7 p.m., Library Theater, Elms College, Chicopee
Panel moderated by Martin Pion, Director Institute for Theology and Pastoral Studies at Elms College.

 

GI Jews

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21

GI JEWS: JEWISH AMERICANS IN WW II

7:30 p.m., Flavin Auditorium, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Introduction by Catherine Portuges, Prof. Emerita, UMass Amherst. Q&A with director Lisa Ades and writer Maia Harris. Free.

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21

ETCHED IN GLASS: THE LEGACY OF STEVE ROSS

7 p.m., Dodge Room, Flynn Campus Union, Springfield College
Q&A with director Roger Lyons and co-producer Tony Bennis.

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 22

STEFAN ZWEIG: FAREWELL TO EUROPE

4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Stirn Auditorium, Amherst College, Amherst
Q&A with Christian Rogowski, Prof. of European Studies and German, Amherst College.

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 22

FANNY’S JOURNEY

7 p.m., Wood Auditorium, Sleith Hall, Western New England University, Springfield

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 23
SAMMY DAVIS JR.: I’VE GOTTA BE ME

1:30 p.m., Glenmeadow Retirement, Longmeadow

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 23

AN AMERICAN TAIL

5 p.m., Lander-Grinspoon Academy, Northampton

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 24

BIG SONIA

8 p.m., Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall, Smith College, Northampton
Discussion with Sara Weinberger, Prof. Emerita of Social Work at Western New England University, and Lois Dubin, Prof. of Religion, Smith College.

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 25
MENASHE

2 p.m., Yiddish Book Center, Amherst

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 25

BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

7 p.m., Gamble Auditorium, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley
Panel with Robin Blaetz, Chair of Film Studies, and Katherine Aidala, Chair of Physics, at Mount Holyoke College. Moderated by Mara Benjamin, Chair of Jewish Studies.

 

MONDAY, MARCH 26

GI JEWS: JEWISH AMERICANS IN WW II

7 p.m., Goldstein Auditorium, Springfield JCC
Panel with director Lisa Ades and writer Maia Harris. Moderated by James Young, Founding Director of the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies at UMass Amherst.

 

MONDAY, MARCH 26

ETCHED IN GLASS: THE LEGACY OF STEVE ROSS

7 p.m., Greenfield Garden Cinemas
Q&A with co-producer Tony Bennis.

 

Keep the Change

TUESDAY, MARCH 27 – CLOSING NIGHT
KEEP THE CHANGE

7 p.m., Rave Cinemas, West Springfield
Light dinner reception 6-7 p.m.; Intro by Deborah Fein, Prof. of Psychology, UConn.

 

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