2 0 0 4 F e s t i v a l
on the Roof
with on-screen lyrics
Fiddler on the Roof
Family sing along with on-screen lyrics
Director/Producer: Norman Jewison
USA, 1972, color, English, 180 minutes
This timeless musical classic based on the Yiddish stories by Shalom Aleichem,
which won numerous Academy Awards and truly needs no description, depicts a now
vanished form of life in a traditional Jewish village in Tsarist Russia during
the end of the 19th century. The principal character, Tevye, played by the famed
Israeli actor Haim Topol, is a religiously observant dairyman with many unmarried
daughters who endures oppressive and relentless poverty and anti-Semitism in
a world destined to collapse as a result of an impending world war and Communist
revolution in Russia. Through all this, however, he never loses his zest for
life and his burning desire to maintain his faith and life-style, which the many
memorable songs in this film celebrate (e.g., "Sunrise, Sunset," "If
I Were a Rich Man," "Tradition"). In fact, this film (as well
as the Broadway musical on which it is based) has been acclaimed by audiences
in countries where no significant Jewish community has ever existed, which attests
to the universality of its message. Not only will this film tug at your heart
and make your toes tap, but it is one you will not likely soon forget. Plus,
this is a sing-along version, back by popular demand for a second consecutive
Director: Hany Abu-Assad
Netherlands, 2002, Arabic and Hebrew w/ English sub-titles, 80 minutes
Whatever your point of view about the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, it is clear that the West
Bank Palestinians must live, day-to-day, with a reality that can be very inconvenient. Whether
the current situation has been caused by Israel, or by the Palestinians themselves, is the
subject of deep debate, but that is not the point of this film. Rather, it portrays the frustrations
and challenges of daily life as Rajai, a resourceful jitney driver, navigates a Ford van
around the West Bank, from checkpoint to checkpoint. Ford vans such as this were given by
Israel to the Palestinian Authority police, and they eventually became the favorite form
of transport for the local people.
The passengers who enter the Ford van represent a myriad of West Bank life, their views on
the current situation, provide insight into day-to-day living in the various West Bank communities.
B.Z. Goldberg, the Israeli filmmaker who produced "Promises" (exhibited at the
San Jose Jewish Film Festival, 2002), is one of the passengers who provides frank insights
into Israeli thinking.
Winner of the 2003 HRWIFF Nestor Almendros Prize for courage in filmmaking
Arab, One Jew, One Stage,
Two Really Funny Guys
Arab, One Jew, One Stage, Two Very Funny Guys
USA, 2004, English, 21 minutes
Director: Lorin Fink
Despite the media-based images that Jews and Arabs dislike each other, the San Jose area
had the opportunity this year to experience in person one Arab and one Jew who have formed
one of the world's most unusual traveling comedy teams. Standup comedian and professional
actor, Ahmed Ahmed and Comedian, Rabbi Bob Alper come from totally different environments,
yet have been touring for over eighteen months. Find out what's behind this odd couple who
perform in synagogues, mosques, and other social institutions internationally.
USA, 2004, Color, English, Arabic, Hebrew with English Subtitles, 10 minutes
Director Richard Goldgewicht
Producer: Jeremy Goldscheider & Kihou Productions
Brotherhood, survival and breaking down of prejudice in a ten minute Arabic, Hebrew and
English Film. 'Tel Aviv' is an American Jew's worst nightmare: Stranded in the Israeli
desert Harvey is picked up by a van of three Arab Palestinians... a Lost in Translation
in the Middle East. What do you do when your life depends on the goodwill of your enemies?
Director: Paul Morrison
United Kingdom, Color, 2003, English, 106 minutes (Rated: PG)
David Wiseman, an eleven-year-old Jewish boy living in London in the 1950s with his German-Jewish
refugee parents, loves cricket but, alas, is such a poor player that he is consigned to
the thankless role of scorekeeper on his private school's cricket squad.
David's life takes a dramatic and unexpected turn when a West Indian family, headed
by the powerful American actor Delroy Lindo, moves next door to the Wisemans and, as one
of their first acts, erects a cricket wicket in their backyard. No prior knowledge of cricket,
whose rules are admittedly arcane, is necessary to appreciate this charming film. Its principal
focus is on the interaction of different races in a previously homogeneous society and
the challenges faced by young people of all colors as they mature into adolescence.
Hats & Short Skirts
Black Hats & Short Skirts
USA, 2003, color, English and Yiddish w/subtitles, 7 minutes
Director: Micah Smith
This short film (seven minutes) tells the charming story of a Chassidic boy and a Polish
girl who have more in common than they know. Yankel and Natalia somehow manage to relate
to each other even though they are divided by language and culture. This engaging film
illustrates the frustration created by the religious and secular divides and how that chasm
can ultimately be closed.
Conspiracy of Kindness |
Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness
Director: Robert Kirk
USA, 2001, Color, English, 103 minutes
Can one man really make a difference? The question is thoughtfully and poignantly answered
in this moving and fascinating documentary about Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese diplomat
who helped to save upwards of 2500 Lithuanian Jews during World War II. Sugihara, the
Japanese consul in Lithuania, at great personal and political risk, signed transit visas
to rescue Jews threatened with deportation to the concentration camps. And what of the
Jews who he saved? It is estimated that their descendents number close to 40,000 so the
answer to the rhetorical question posed above is a resounding and unequivocal "yes." The
amazing story of Sugihara doesn't end with the defeat of the Nazis. He was fired
from the diplomatic corps after the war and from 1947 until he died in 1986, he and his
family lived in virtual anonymity, struggling to make ends meet.
Just before he died, however, in 1985, he received the state of Israel's highest
honor, and was recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations" by the Yad Vashem
Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem. Too ill to travel,
the recognition was accepted by his wife and son.
Director Diane Estelle Vicari presented brief remarks after the screening, and
answered audience questions.
This film was presented in cooperation with the San
Jose Japanese American Museum.
The film won BEST DOCUMENTARY 2000 at the Hollywood Film Festival and is the winner
of the prestigious 2000 International Documentary Association/PARE LORENTZ Award.
Director: Savi Gabizon
Israel, 2003, Hebrew w/English sub-titles, color, 106 minutes.
Nadav a 12-year-old boy is infatuated with his aunt Nina. His innocent love, admiration
and pain becomes unbearable when he moves in with Nina in order to comfort her after the
death of her husband. As Nina struggles to recover from her loss, there are bittersweet
moments that unfold with great emotion and expertise by one of Israel's most celebrated
filmmakers. This sad comedy has many twists and surprises as it reminds us how closely
related fate is to coincidence in an unpredictable world
Winner of 11 Israeli Academy Awards in 2003
Director: Shanny Talis
Israel, 2001, Hebrew with English subtitles, color, 17 minutes
Hadassah College of Technology, Film and Television Department
Shira and Ariel meet in the during their military service. Because of religious differences,
they decide to keep their relationship on a professional level.
When they run into each other in an informal party, the desire to get closer is mutual.
This leads to a series of situation wherein Ariel is scared and pulls away because his
religious beliefs. Can love for a woman stand between a man and his faith?
Yossi & Jagger |
Yossi & Jagger
Director: Eytan Fox
Israel, 2003, color, Hebrew with English subtitles 65 minutes (Rated: R)
Yossi, a serious, conservative, young Israeli commander, and the irresistibly handsome
and playful "Jagger", carry out their secret love affair amid the heterosexual
goings-on of a co-ed platoon stationed on a remote army base on the Israeli-Lebanese border.
Fox skillfully and subtly grounds this true-life romance in the context of social and political
realities and pressures, and without flag-waving or ideological posturing, tells the story
of young people trying to survive and find happiness in a troubled time and place.
Minutes From Faradis
2 Minutes From Faradis
Director: Daniel Syrkin
Israel, 2003, Hebrew w/English sub-titles, color 50 minutes
A precocious Israeli teenager unsuccessfully tries to rebel against her ultra-liberal
Just as she's about to give up, she meets the charming son of the family maid, who
also happens to be Arab. Sparks of romance between the two evoke the parents' alarm,
leading to a series of hilarious misunderstandings involving the incensed families from
The Tragic Loss |
The Tragic Loss
Director: Naftaly Gliksberg
Israel 2004, Color, English, Hebrew with subtitles,60 minutes.
Ilan Ramon was one of the seven astronauts on board the NASA exploratory craft ˆíColumbia,ˆì which crashed upon landing, killing all aboard. Ramon was one of Israelˆïs best and most experienced fighter pilots. During his time as an astronaut, both in space and on the ground, Ramon kept a detailed diary, which reflected not only the rigorous and intense training activities but also his deepest thoughts. Amidst the wreckage of the crash, Ramonˆïs diary was found and returned to Israel, where much of it was painstakingly reconstructed by forensic experts from the Israel Museum and the Israeli Police. This film uses the diary as a subtext to explore the human aspects of Ramonˆïs preparation for the mission and how both he, his wife and children were affected by that experience. The film contains exclusive and previously unseen footage of the preparation for the 16-day mission, the mission itself, and also the heartbreaking disaster that was its culmination. The film explores, whether steps could have been taken after launch to correct the design flaws that caused the disaster, and which flaws were known by NASA much earlier than has been previously disclosed. This poignant film, will inevitably cause the viewer to
wonder whether this tragedy could have been avoided and, if so, why was it not
Directed by Hadar Freidlich
Israel, 2000, Hebrew with English subtitles, color, 22 minutes
A day in the life of a Jerusalem taxi driver, on which he buries his son who committed
suicide while in the army. Having no family, he finds himself at work as usual. He
meets with blunt reality as it exists in Israel, and with grief. With Eli Guy, Gal
of the Pretzel
Wisdom of the Pretzel
Director/Producer: Ilan Heitner
Israel, 2002, Hebrew w/English sub-titles, color, 97 minutes
For the second consecutive
year, the San Jose Jewish Film Festival is presenting a Gen-X feature, specifically
one that has been chosen (by college students) to appeal especially to the
18-30 plus generation. It does, however also have appeal to adults of all ages.
Meet Golan: almost thirty; still a University undergraduate; his rent paid
by his parents. It's a fun life. Does he need to grow up? The real question
is: Does he want to? Golan's friends are mostly focused on enjoying life. As for
his relationships with women - how can he settle on one flavor of ice cream, when
there are so many more out there? He finally allows his best friend Guy, to
fix him up with his sister, a beautiful, vibrant, and independent woman. As long
as she is elusive, Golan craves her company. But once she decides that they have
a future, Golan feels stifled and wants his freedom. As his friends move on
with careers, relationships and commitments, he is suddenly left behind, and his
father is threatening to cut the purse strings. Golan has serious decisions to make.
What will they be?
Kaplans And The Black Demon |
The Kaplans And The Black Demon
Israel, 1998, Hebrew w/English subtitles, color, 37 minutes
Director: Yifat Elkayam and Liat Kaplan
A traditional middle-aged Ashkenazi couple in Israel, distraught that their daughter
has become romantically involved with a dark-skinned Muslim from the Sudan, take
the bold step of consulting with an Arab exorcist to rid themselves, and their
daughter, of what they believe to be a "black devil." The extent to
which the parents become involved in this arcane process is surprising and
the results are unexpected.
Journey To Jerusalem |
James' Journey To Jerusalem
Director: Ra'anan Alexandrowicz
Israel, 2003, Color,Hebrew, Zulu w/Eng. subtitles 87 minutes
A The image of sturdy chalutzim (Hebrew for: pioneers) marching to work during
the days of the British Mandate and the earliest years of Israel's independence
is one that was romanticized in numerous books and movies. The modern reality
is very different, however, and one that is not usually a subject for discussion.
This updated look involves laborers who are not recent OLIM (Jewish immigrants
to Israel), but instead are Africans, Asians, and Eastern Europeans who come to
Israel looking for menial work.
James is a Christian from a native village in South Africa who has been sent
by his church on a mission to Jerusalem. Instead, through a pattern of misfortune,
he ends up as a laborer in the Tel Aviv area, where he slowly abandons the pilgrim's
zeal in favor of a laborer's rough lifestyle. James, however, is a quick
study, and he learns that there is money to be made by "playing the game." In
a kaleidoscope of mis-adventures, James learns what it takes for day-to-day survival
on the back streets of Tel Aviv, which are areas not usually visited by the tour
buses. Leaving aside his idealism was a slow process, encouraged by his Israeli
employers, providing a poignant and sometimes satiric look at a different and
often-not-discussed view of a slice of Israeli life. James' goal, to visit
the Holy City of Jerusalem, drives him, but, like all dreams, it can be elusive.
Dream of Mother
Director: Chava Schein
Hadassah College of Technology, Film and Television Department
Israel, 2000, Hebrew w/English subtitles. 27 minutes, Beta video.
Dasesh, a 19-year old Ethiopian girl, has been living in Israel with her father
and stepmother for five years. Since their separation, she has dreamed of the arrival
of her biological mother from Ethiopia.
Monsieur Shlomi |
Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi
Director: Shemi Zarchin
Israel, 2003, Hebrew w/English Subtitles, color, 94 minutes
This touching film explores the daily challenges faced by Shlomi, an Israeli teenager
from a family of Middle Eastern origin, whose self-appointed role is to keep peace
within his dysfunctional family and to take care of everyone's needs but his
own. For example, he feeds, bathes, and listens to the repetitious stories of his
disabled grandfather; he reminds his older brother to take his medication; he calms
his quick-tempered mother and mediates between her and his hypochondriac father,
whom she threw out of the house for philandering; he looks after his older sister's
twins and makes sure she keeps going back to her husband, who cannot seem to distinguish
between the identical twin babies. As if this were not enough, Shlomi, a talented
cook, prepares the favorite meals for all his family members. No one in the family
really sees Shlomi, and he does not see himself.
Things change, however, when his teacher and school principal recognize his brilliance,
which had previously been undetected. With their help and the help of Rona, a female
neighbor gardener with whom Shlomi is secretly in love, he is sent to a school for
gifted children, where he finally discovers himself.
and Dissent |
Advise and Dissent
USA, 2002, English, 21 minutes
Director: Leib Cohen
A Frustrated businessman, Jeffery Goldman (John Pankow) tries to end his hopeless
marriage by asking his local Rabbi (Eli Wallach) to place a curse on his wife, Ellen
(Rebecca Pidgeon) . The rabbi refuses, but gives Goldman peculiar advice on how
to do away with her, setting into motion a series of unexpected events.
Director: David Ofek
Israel, 2003, Color, Hebrew with English subtitles, 75 minutes
A production crew documents its 6-month investigation into the identity of the
17th victim of a suicide bombing who was buried in an unmarked grave. Through this
search, the film explores numerous people's stories, creating a sensitive
portrait of a society living under the shadow of death. This film keeps one glued
to the story as it unravels an all too real mystery.
Winner of Docaviv April 2003
Director/Producer: Noam Shalev
Israel, 2003, Hebrew w/English sub-titles and English, 47 minutes
Alon Bernstein is an Israeli photo-journalist and Jimmy Michael, his Palestinian
counterpart, work for a rival television news service, For the last seven years,
each has witnessed almost every major news event in Jerusalem and, in the process,
filmed the aftermath of terrorist attacks and also the human suffering that resulted
from those attacks. Their respective views and opinions concerning the future relationship
between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, on which this film focuses, have been
shaped by direct and personal encounters with these events. This film, in which the
personal views of each is developed, brings a unique perspective to the events that
most of us see only in print or on the television screen.
Director/Producer: Valerie Lapin Ganleyv
USA, 2003, color, English, 59 minutes.
William Briscoe claims that Irish Jews are the friendliest Jews in the world
(and the most inclined to enjoy a pint)! Shalom Ireland tells the untold story
of how Ireland's affable and ambitious Jewish community came to be a major influence
in shaping both Ireland and Israel. A talented, hard-working, profoundly civic
group of people, Jews from Ireland served in such prominent positions as Lord
Mayor of Dublin, first chief rabbi of Israel, and president of Israel. This film
documents a community now threatened by extinction but unwilling to surrender.
Heaven and Earth |
Moving Heaven and Earth
Directed by Debra Gonsher Vinik and David Vinik
USA, 2003, English, color, 43 min
Living in the remoteness of Uganda's jungle are the Abayudaya, a tribe of
400 people who, devoutly, have been practicing conservative Judaism for the past
seventy years. Their inspiring story is presented by Deborah Gonsher Vinik and David
Vinik , who followed and documented a mass conversion of the entire tribe that was
conducted by Conservative rabbis from the United States.
on Trial |
Cantor on Trial
USA, 1931, b/w, Yiddish with new English subtitles, 10 minutes
Directed and Produced by Sidney M. Goldin
Music by Sholem Secunda
New 35mm restoration - 2003
Cantor Leibele Waldman plays multiple roles in this short spoof of a synagogue
committee in search of a chazan (cantor) for the High Holiday services. Cantor Waldman
introduces each scene, as a Galitzianer and then a Daytsher\ (German) chazan audition.
Displeased with what they've heard, and unable to agree, they are visited by Leibele's
agent who offers them a third alternative: a modern Chazan, with "pep and jazz," who
can do Kol Nidre with a "two-step" and Netaneh Tokef with a "black
bottom." Needless to say...
Cast: Cantor Louis (Leibele) Waldman, Sidney Goldin
A Faith and Tolerance
After The Holocaust
Hiding and Seeking: A Faith and
Tolerance After The Holocaust
Directors: Menachem Daum, Oren Rudavsky
USA, 2003, color, English , Yiddish, Polish with English subtitles 97 minutes.
This deeply personal work by famed American documentary filmmaker Menachem Daum,
a disciple of Rabbi Shlomo Carlbach, portrays his spiritual odyssey. Daum, an observant
Jew who was reared by parents who were death camp survivors, has two sons, both
of whom live cloistered lives as Yeshivah students in Jerusalem. Like many rigorously
Orthodox Jews who purposefully avoid any unnecessary contact with the Gentile world,
his sons cannot imagine that a Gentile might, for no ulterior motive, risk his life
to save a Jew. Hoping to counteract this thinking, Daum, together with his wife
and the two sons, journeys to a small town in Poland to find the Gentile farm couple
that, during the Second World War, had sheltered his father-in-law from the occupying
Nazis for two years.
The journey and its moving culmination have profound emotional impact for Daum
as well as his sons. In the process, Daum's sons come to accept, reluctantly
to be sure, the nuanced reality that righteousness and compassion are qualities
for which no group, whether Jew or Gentile, has a monopoly over. The depths to which
this remarkable film explores the role of faith in a hostile world are truly unforgettable.
USA, 2003, color, English, 7 minutes
Director: Lauren Anne Miller
If you have grown up Jewish in a non-Jewish community, you will relate to "Happy
Holidays." This eight minute short film by Lauren A. Miller, a Florida State
University Film student, illustrates the conflicting emotions of a Jewish student
the day before a high school's Christmas break. "Christmas cheer" belongs
to the others, so how is it possible to relate to the festivities of the season -- especially
when the teacher assigns a required "Santa-gram"? Ultimately, the non-Jewish
students help with the answer.
Director: Daniel Burman
Argentina, 2003, color, Spanish w/ English Subtitles, 100 minutes
San Jose Premiere
The San Jose Jewish Film Festival is proud to present the San Jose premiere of
the film "Lost Embrace," which depicts the troubles and travails of
present day Argentina.
With its economy in shambles, one of the hottest commodities for any citizen
is a foreign passport, which drives many to search for their immigrant roots. In
Ariel's case, he also wants to understand his family history. His grandparents
immigrated to Argentina from Poland to escape the Holocaust. His father left his
mother shortly after he was born, to fight a seemingly distant war in Israel. Ariel's
mother and brother seem indifferent to the past, but he is determined to find the
truth. That truth becomes especially important when he has an opportunity to give
his father the lost embrace that he had missed for most of his young life.
This film is being cosponsored with the Bay Area Latino Film Festival.
We Build A Bridge Together?
Can We Build A Bridge Together?
Director: Lorin Fink
USA, 2004, color, English, 30 minutes
Can ten Latino and ten Jewish college students from San Jose, CA work beyond personal
and media-based stereotypes to truly get to know each other and bond together to
perform social action projects in the local community? Decide whether this six-month
experimental project called "Puente"(Bridge, in Spanish) facilitates connections
between individuals of these two cultures with the intent of planting seeds of social
involvement at a critical stage in life. World Premiere presentation produced by
SJJFF President, Lorin Fink.