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Central Mass. Jewish Film Festival to run from Jan. 19-30

By Laura Porter

WORCESTER – It’s January and in Central Massachusetts, from Worcester to Westborough, that means it’s time to go to the movies.

The eleventh annual Central Mass. International Jewish Film Festival runs from Jan. 19-30, showcasing six films from Israel, Italy and the United States.

Presented by the Jewish Federation of Central Mass. and the Worcester Jewish Community Center, this year the festival is also sponsored by the Jewish Healthcare Center, the Consulate General of Israel to New England, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

“We’ve never had sponsorships before, and I’m very pleased about our sponsors,” says Nancy Greenberg, who initiated and has developed the festival as Cultural Arts Director at the Worcester JCC. Greenberg’s successful application for a Mass. Cultural Council festival grant is responsible for that organization’s support.

The addition of the word “international” to the festival name and logo highlights its wide-ranging focus.

“I definitely want to make sure that it appeals to anyone who likes film,” Greenberg says. “The films are eclectic rather than just Jewish. At the same time, they are Jewish films and they come from everywhere.”

The film schedule reflects a range of themes, genres and nationalities. Greenberg likes to include a documentary as well as a film that relates to some aspect of the Holocaust. There is always at least one Israeli film in addition to a film in English.

At heart, her goal is to find “the right mix of films right for the Central Mass. audience.”

Deli Man

This year, documentaries will open and close the festival. The soft opening takes place on Jan. 19 with the encore showing of “Deli Man” (USA, 2014) at the Worcester Senior Center.

The film celebrates the history and culture of the Jewish deli across the United States through the eyes of deli owners and deli lovers.

On the final day, Jan. 30 at The Willows at Worcester, “Itzhak” (USA, 2017) closely examines the life and musical career of violinist Itzhak Perlman.

Both Saturday nights of the festival, held at St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury, will feature special highlights. On Jan. 20, Israel’s Deputy Consul General to New England, Matan Zamir, will attend the showing of “A Quiet Heart” (Israel, 2016). The film captures the tension between secularism and ultra-Orthodoxy in Israel through the eyes of a young concert pianist. Zamir will speak briefly.

On Saturday, Jan. 27, Hadassah Boroughs Chapter, Greater Worcester Chapter Hadassah and Chaverim, JFCM’s program for adults aged 40 plus, are providing a dessert reception to follow “Past Life” (Israel, 2016). Based on actual wartime diaries, the film follows two sisters’ search to understand their father’s activities in Warsaw during World War II.

“[The groups] did this last year, too,” says Greenberg. “They put out high tables in the vestibule. It was really festive. People loved it.”

The opportunity to socialize afterwards “takes the discussion into the dessert reception,” she says. “This movie is provocative in a way, so being able to discuss it as you have your pastry will be nice.”

The Worcester JCC’s recent renovation added new seats, a new audio-visual system, lighting, and sound panels to its auditorium. It now joins St. John’s as a prime venue for the film festival.

“Let Yourself Go” (Italy, 2017) will be shown on Tuesday evening, Jan. 23 at the JCC. It is an Italian romantic comedy focusing on the relationship between a psychiatrist and his new personal trainer.

The late Martin Landau, with Paul Sorvino, is featured in his final appearance in “Abe and Phil’s Last Poker Game” (USA, 2017). The American film, at the JCC on Sunday afternoon Jan. 28, also stars local actor Ann Marie Shea as Landau’s wife, Molly.

For tickets and full descriptions of all of the films, go to www.worcesterjcc.org or contact Nancy Greenberg at (508) 756-7109, ext. 232 or ngreenberg@worcesterjcc.org.

CAP: Abe and Phil’s Last Poker Game


Central Mass. Jewish Film Festival

Friday, Jan. 19, 1 p.m.

“Deli Man”

Worcester Senior Center



Saturday, Jan. 20, 7:30 p.m.

“A Quiet Heart”

St. John’s High School, Ryken Center

Remillard Hall, Shrewsbury



Tuesday, Jan. 23, 7:30 p.m.

“Let Yourself Go”

Worcester JCC Auditorium

633 Salisbury St.



Saturday, Jan. 27, 7:30 p.m.

“Past Life”

St. John’s High School, Ryken Center

Remillard Hall, Shrewsbury



Sunday, Jan. 28, 2 p.m.

“Abe & Phil’s Last Poker Game”

Worcester JCC Auditorium

633 Salisbury St.




Tuesday, Jan. 30, 7:30 p.m.


The Willows at Worcester, Greater Room


Conversation with Anita Diamant
Jewish Life on Campus

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