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2017 Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival Announces Line-up

SPRINGFIELD — Israeli basketball legend Tal Brody will be the special guest during the opening night of the 12th Annual Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival.

The opening night film, “On the Map,” a documentary about Israel’s 1977 underdog basketball team, will be screened at the Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday evening, March 18.

“We are thrilled that Tal Brody will join us for our opening night screening, and what better venue than the Basketball Hall of Fame, which is home to so much hoops history,” said Deb Krivoy, PVJFF co-director.

The PVJFF will run through April 4, with 21 films from nine countries screening in 16 venues across Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin Counties.

“We are thrilled to present an outstanding roster that celebrates the diversity of Jewish identity and culture around the world,” said Carlin Preisick Trietsch, PVJFF co-director. “We look forward to bringing the community together and delivering the best festival experience possible for our audience.”

“On the Map” is one of a number of Israeli film highlights of the PVJFF.

In addition, this year’s line-up represents the very best of global Jewish cinema featuring films from Greece, Holland and France.

A short film showcase features several acclaimed short films, ranging from 10 to 25 minutes in length, including the Oscar nominated short documentary “Joe’s Violin.”

In a continued effort to strengthen its spotlight on documentary filmmaking, PVJFF is screening 10 documentaries.

“As a festival, we understand the power of a story well told,” said Deb Krivoy, PVJFF co-director. “This year’s documentary films showcase important, complex stories that explore a range of social, cultural, and political issues.”

More than 15 guest speakers will introduce the films and participate in post-film discussions. In addition, PVJFF will co-sponsor free screenings in partnership with the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival at UMass Amherst, the German Film Series at Amherst College, and Glenmeadow Retirement.

Tickets can be purchased online, by phone, or in person at the Springfield JCC. Tickets sold at the door subject to availability. For more information, visit www.pvjff.org or call (413) 739-4615.


PVJFF Film Schedule:

OPENING NIGHT – Saturday March 18, 8:15 p.m.,
Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield


The story of Israel’s 1977 European Basketball Championship, which took place at a time when the Middle East was still reeling from the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the 1972 Olympic massacre at Munich.

Dessert reception: 7:30-8 p.m; Q&A with Israeli basketball legend Tal Brody.



1:30 p.m., Goldstein Auditorium, “Springfield JCC

How did a poor Jewish kid from Connecticut become one of the most successful TV producers ever? Norman Lear brought provocative subjects like war, poverty, and prejudice into 120 million homes every week, proving that social change was possible through laughter.



7 p.m., Greenfield Garden Cinemas, Greenfield

It’s Hanukkah and everything is the way it’s always been for Moos, who stayed home to take care of her father after her mother’s passing. When her childhood friend Sam returns from Israel, he encourages Moos to pursue her passions and audition at the Academy of Performing Arts. Naturally, the course is not without its obstacles.



7 p.m., Rave Cinemas, West Springfield

Joey Miller is the king of Detroit’s (Jewish) party emcees. When his prized sound equipment gets destroyed in a freak accident, he turns to his shady Uncle Morty who agrees to give him the money to get back into business if Joey can steal his grandmother’s famous top-secret dill pickle recipe – which she has vowed to take to her grave.

Reception from 6:30-7 p.m., with a tasting table by Real Pickles of Greenfield.


Friday, March 24
1:30 p.m., Glenmeadow Retirement, Longmeadow

An uplifting drama-romance about the growing bond between an aging Polish-born cabaret singer and a young German man driven by a secret. Through shared parallels and the lusty Yiddish music of yesteryear, this improbable duo rekindles their sense of purpose, finding reason to defiantly toast l’chaim in the face of adversity.


Saturday, March 25
7:30 p.m., Weinstein Auditorium, Smith College, Northampton

Revealing the inner workings and key players of the marriage equality movement, The Freedom to Marry is a thrilling and inspiring insiders’ look at one of the greatest civil rights battles of today.

Followed by panel discussion with Stan Rosenberg, President, Mass. State Senate; Jennifer Levi, GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders.


Sunday, March 26
Short Film Showcase 1 p.m., Weinstein Auditorium, Smith College, Northampton

A documentary about a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor who donates his violin of 70 years to a local instrument drive, changing the life of a 12-year-old schoolgirl from the Bronx, and unexpectedly, his own. Nominated for a 2017 Academy Award, in the Documentary Short Subject category.

Each Sabbath, 10-year-old Yoni attempts to sneak past curmudgeonly Mr. Katz into
 the kiddush reception before the end of services. But one day, Mr. Katz is nowhere to be found.

Remies, France. 1941. An unexpected act of charity and courage in a time of cruelty. A stark reminder of the human capacity for good.

The kindness of a stranger (Peter Riegert) profoundly affects a young Brooklyn boy who is grieving over the death of his father.

In partnership with Smith College Jewish Studies and Film Studies programs.


Sunday, March 26
7 p.m., Amherst Cinema, Amherst

Born into a Palestinian family in Jerusalem, Nadia follows a PLO activist to London where they marry. When he is arrested, she is alone and in exile. Flash forward 20 years: Nadia has a new identity as Maya, an Israeli Jew, a choreographer, mother, and wife to a high-ranking Ministry of Justice official. But the resurfacing of a figure from her past threatens to unravel both her family and her sense of self.



7 p.m., Marsh Chapel, Springfield College

From Ken Burns comes the story of Waitstill and Martha Sharp, a Unitarian minister and his wife who helped save Jews fleeing the Nazis across Europe.

Q&A with director Artemis Joukowsky III (grandson of the Sharps). In partnership with Springfield College Holocaust Committee and Spiritual Life Center.


Tuesday, March 28
7 p.m., Library Theater, Elms College, Chicopee

German law has been imposed in 1942 Thessaloniki where Estrea, a Jewish girl, has fallen in love with Yorgos, a Christian boy who works in a small nightclub, a retreat from the gloom that has taken over the city. As the Nazis close in, Estrea and Yorgos are forced to make life-changing decisions. Featuring classics of Sephardic Jewish music.

Greek-inspired reception at 6:30.

Panel discussion with Susan Goldman, pres. Jewish Federation of Western Mass.; Jane Miliotis, Elms College; and Christopher Zaferes Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. In partnership with Elms College Office of Diversity and Inclusion.


Wednesday, March 29
7:30 p.m., Flavin Auditorium, Isenberg 137, UMass, Amherst

During the 1920s, Café Nagler was one of the hottest cafés in Berlin. Israeli director Mor Kaplansky channels her documentarian grandmother, Naomi Kaplansky, and learning that the real Café Nagler paled in comparison to her grandmother’s glamorous recollections, Mor commits to recreating the myth.

Introduction by Prof. Catherine Portuges, director of the Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies, UMass. In partnership with Mass. Multicultural Film Festival.


Thursday, March 30 

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

Johann Radmann, a young prosecutor in Berlin takes an interest in a former Auschwitz commander working as a schoolteacher.

Radmann is determined to bring the man to justice, but finds his efforts frustrated because many former Nazis now serve in the post-war government and want to forget the past.

Q&A with Christian Rogowski, Prof. of German, Amherst College. In partnership with the German Film Series and Office of the Jewish Religious Advisor, Amherst College.


Saturday, April 1, 8 p.m., Goldstein
Auditorium, Springfield JCC

Burdened with memory loss and his wife’s recent passing, 90-year-old Zev Guttman (Academy Award-winner Christopher Plummer) is prompted to track down his fugitive Nazi tormentor by fellow Auschwitz survivor Max. Zev embarks on a cross-country odyssey to find the former commander whom they now believe to be living somewhere in the country under an assumed identity.


Saturday, April 1, 8 p.m.,
Pothole Pictures, Memorial Hall, Shelburne Falls

This screening pays tribute to the late Gene Wilder, who starred as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein. One of Mel Brooks’ funniest films, Young Frankenstein is an uproarious parody of old Frankenstein pictures filled with Brooks’ subversive shtick.


Sunday, April 2 
2 p.m., Davis Auditorium, D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield

At the dawn of World War II, some 4,000 masterpieces were secretly taken from the walls of The Louvre and hidden to save them from the Nazis. This unlikely squadron of curators evacuated the most prestigious collection of artworks and kept it safe throughout the war, at great risk to their lives.

Q&A with Simon Sibelman, historian.


Sunday, April 2 
7 p.m., Gamble Auditorium, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley

When a synagogue’s women’s balcony collapses during a bar mitzvah, a close-knit Sephardic congregation in Jerusalem fractures along gender lines. Nominated for five Israeli Academy Awards.

Q&A with Donald Weber, Prof. of English, Mount Holyoke College. In partnership with Mount Holyoke College Jewish Studies and Film Studies programs.


Monday April 3 
7 p.m., Longmeadow High School

A riveting dramatization of the 1972 hijacking of a Sabena plane on route from Brussels to Israel and the Israeli commando raid that liberated the passengers. With interviews with Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the officer in charge of the rescue team.


Monday, April 3 
7 p.m., Greenfield Garden Cinemas

Combatants for Peace, a group of former Israeli soldiers from elite units and Palestinians who fought against them join together to support each other’s journeys to a steadfast belief in non-violence.

Q&A with director Stephen Apkon and Paula Green, founder of Karuna Center for Peacebuilding. In partnership with Karuna Center.


Tuesday, April 4 
1:30 p.m., Goldstein Auditorium, Springfield JCC
MOOS (See March 22).


Tuesday, April 4, 7 p.m., Yiddish Book Center, Amherst

Isaac Babel’s writings challenging the ideology of the early Soviet Union resulted in his arrest and execution in 1940. Finding Babel follows his grandson Andrei on a journey through Ukraine, France and Russia, hoping to better understand Babel’s powerful artistic method and elusive persona.

Q&A with filmmaker David Novack.

In partnership with the Yiddish Book Center.

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