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Berkshire Jewish Film Festival celebrates 35 years

PITTSFIELD – This summer the Berkshire Jewish Film Festival celebrates its 35th anniversary with a full seven weeks of programming, ranging from political documentaries and biographies to comedies, heartfelt family stories, and animation.    

The film festival will begin Monday,
July 5 and feature 18 films, including five short films.

Like last year, it will be a virtual festival showing films online and engaging audience members with Zoom talkbacks. 

Tickets are $10 for individual films, and season passes are $118. 

All proceeds are directed to support children at the Knesset Israel Hebrew School. For additional information and the online box office, visit berkshirejewishfilmfestival.org.

 

FILM SCHEDULE

July 5, 4 p.m.
A Crime on the Bayou 

The story of a lasting bond formed between an unjustly arrested black man, Gary Duncan, and Richard Sobol, his young Jewish attorney. In 1966, 19-year-old Duncan faced the white supremacist court system in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, for daring to touch a white boy’s arm. Standing united, the pair took the case all the way to the US Supreme Court to fight for the rights of all Americans to a fair trial. (Documentary,
89 minutes, 2020, English)

 

July 5, 8 p.m.
Mr. Jones

High on his recent success as the fearless journalist who just interviewed Hitler, Gareth Jones goes on to become the first person to expose The New York Times cover-up of the atrocities of the Holodomor, Stalin’s man-made famine that killed millions of Ukrainians between the years 1932-33. (Courtesy RogerEbert.com) Narrative, 141 minutes, 2019, English)

 

July 12, 4 p.m.
Schocken: On the Verge of Consensus 

Salman Schocken, the King of department stores in Germany before World War II, possessed a unique collection of 60,000 rare books, founded a modern, Jewish publishing house, and later owned the Haaretz newspaper which still survives on the edge of consensus. (Documentary, 75 minutes, 2020, Hebrew, German with English subtitles) 

 

July 12, 8 p.m.
Michael Tilson Thomas: Where Now is

Born into a creative Jewish family, Michael Tilson Thomas is the third generation of his family to pursue an artistic career and has spent his life stretching the boundaries of classical music. In 1970, Tilson Thomas was considered the great young hope of American classical music. (Courtesy Jewish Film Institute Documentary, 97 minutes, 2020)

 

July 19, 4 p.m.
Soros

Billionaire activist George Soros is one of the most influential and controversial figures of our time. With unprecedented access to the man and his inner circle, director Jesse Dylan follows Soros across the globe and pulls back the curtain on his personal history, private wealth, and public activism. (Courtesy Sorosfilm.com Documentary, 86 minutes, 2019, English)

 

July 19, 8 p.m.
Shalom Taiwan

This uplifting dramatic comedy follows the misadventures of Rabbi Aaron as he tries to raise funds to repay a loan from a moneylender who has called in the debt. With the threat of having his community center seized as property, Rabbi Aaron embarks on a last-ditch fundraising effort by traveling to Taiwan to attract donors. (Courtesy Toronto Jewish Film Festival Narrative, 85 min, 2019, Spanish with English subtitles) 

 

July 26, 4 p.m.
Magic Men

A jaded Holocaust survivor who has renounced his faith, Avraham (Makram Khoury) resents the piety of his middle-aged son Yehuda (Zohar Strauss), a devout Hassidic rapper. When the aging Avraham decides to return to his native Greece to find the man who offered shelter and taught him magic during World War II, he is compelled to bring Yehuda as his guardian. So begins a cross-cultural, cross-generational road trip as these characters search for absolution and reconciliation. (Narrative, 100 minutes, 2014, Hebrew with English subtitles)

 

July 26, 8 p.m. 
‘Til Kingdom Come

‘Til Kingdom Come unravels the global significance of American Christians’ dogma concerning Israel’s role in the Second Coming. Prominent among the millions of American Evangelicals praying for Israel is Pastor Boyd Bingham IV, one in a line of a dynasty of Kentucky pastors, and the congregants he leads in a small coal-mining town. Firm in his conviction that his calling in life is to raise money for Israel and his congregants’ donations are fueled by the belief that Jews are crucial to Jesus’s return.  (Documentary, 76 minutes, 2020, English)

 

Aug. 2, 4 p.m.
The Invisible Line — America’s Nazi Experiment 

Seeking to explain how Hitler brainwashed the Germans, history teacher Ron Jones subjected his high school students to a Nazi-like code of conduct. The experiment spiraled out of control, attracting hundreds of students to the rising fascist movement. Some 50 years later, Jones, his wife, and original pupils reunite to share their troubling memories and reflect on the trauma and regret that haunt them still. (Courtesy Atlanta Jewish Film Festival Documentary, 53 minutes, 2020, English) 

 

Aug. 2, 8 p.m.
Tango Shalom 

Moshe Yehuda, a Hasidic Rabbi, enters a televised Tango competition to save his Hebrew school from bankruptcy. But due to his orthodox religious beliefs, he is not allowed to touch a woman! At odds with his family and Hasidic community, Moshe asks a Catholic priest, a Muslim imam, and Sikh holy man for advice. Together, they hash out a plan to help Moshe dance in the Tango contest without sacrificing his sacred beliefs, setting in motion a fun, passionate dance movie. (Narrative, 115 minutes, 2020, English)

 

 5 Short Films

Aug. 9, 4 p.m.
Cinema Rex

At a famed 1930s Jerusalem cinematheque, a Jewish boy and an Arab girl bond over their love of movies. (Animation, 8 minutes, 2020, Hebrew (English subtitles) 

Mum’s Hairpins 

Yasha, a young Jewish boy, seizes a last chance to escape a Ukrainian shtetl under siege from Nazi invaders in this somber, poetic, and haunting tale of survival and loss. (Narrative, 20 minutes, 2019, Russian with English subtitles.) 

Eddy’s World

The entertaining story of Eddy Goldfarb, a 98-year-old working toy inventor, best known for the iconic Yakity Yak Teeth and nearly 800 classic toys. (Documentary, 28 minutes, English)

 

Aug. 9, 8 p.m.
Empty Spaces

Nati, an officer in the IDF is heading south with three soldiers in order to perform a very complicated mission.
(Narrative, 27 minutes, 2021,
Hebrew subtitles) 

A Father’s Kaddish

Sitting at his potter’s wheel to heal emotionally and honor his son’s memory, a grieving New England father shares his contemplative, meditative ritual of creating exquisite works of art born of love, tragedy and time. (Courtesy Atlanta Jewish Film Festival Short documentary, 31 minutes, English) 

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