The JCCNS's 11th annual film festival runs from May 2-23.

North Shore JCC’s annual film fest to bring panorama of Jewish life



North Shore JCC’s annual film fest to bring panorama of Jewish life

The JCCNS's 11th annual film festival runs from May 2-23.

MARBLEHEAD – Film fans of the North Shore and neighboring communities will be brought together once again by the International Jewish Film Festival and its carefully curated selection from around the world. Uniquely inspired by Jewish history, culture, and values, all films will be screened at Cinema Salem.

Sponsored by Sharon and Howard Rich and Leslie and Bob Ogan, the 11th annual festival runs from May 2-23. Opening night tickets are $20 (includes popcorn and a drink) and closing night is $25 (includes an ice cream reception). All other screenings are $15 with discounted ticket packages available.

Cochairs Izzi Abrams and Michelle Myerson and 14 committee members worked tirelessly to create a well-balanced lineup of 10 feature films. The lineup includes documentaries, a comedy, a political thriller, and several dramas set during the Holocaust. This year, there is also an evening of six short films.

Four documentaries offer unique glimpses of Jews and Jewish life. “Remembering Gene Wilder” pays affectionate homage to the extraordinary actor and his legacy both on screen and off. Director and cowriter Glenn Kirschbaum will introduce the film and facilitate a Q&A after the screening. The film is scheduled for May 2 at 7 p.m.

A humorous and nostalgic tribute to what became known as the Borscht Belt, “The Catskills” features interviews with former waiters, entertainers, and dance instructors, and the best shtick its renowned stand-up comedians can still offer. The film provides an historical overview of early 20th century Jewish immigration to New York and the development of this lavish vacation destination. (May 10, 1 p.m.)

“Children of Peace” follows the personal stories of a group of dreamers who embarked on a utopian experiment in the 1970s, giving birth to Neve Shalom – a village envisioned as a model of harmonious coexistence between Arabs and Jews. This film delves into the experiences of the children who came of age in this extraordinary setting, and how they now – as adults – grapple with the harsh realities of political turmoil, war, and societal segregation. (May 15, 7 p.m.)

Rounding out the doc category is “Call Me Dancer,” the story of Manish, a young Mumbai street performer who – despite the family and financial odds stacked against him – achieves his dream of becoming a professional dancer with the help of Yehuda Maor, an Israeli ballet teacher who takes him under his wing. (May 23, 7 p.m.)

Three films set during the Holocaust focus on personal stories of both Jews and non-Jews. The sublimely shot and scored “Zone of Interest,” winner of the 2024 Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film and Best Sound, is loosely based on the 2014 novel by Martin Amis. It follows the banal and privileged existence of Auschwitz commander Rudolf Höss and his wife Hedwig as they build an idyllic life for their family in the 1940s only yards away from the prison camp and crematoria where atrocities are heard but never seen. (May 5, 7 p.m.)

Based on the Cinderella folktale, “Stella. A Life.” is the story of a German-Jewish refugee who flees to Scotland in 1937 and, incognito, finds work at the country estate of a fascist noble, where she is accepted and even falls in love. Desperate to find her parents, Stella struggles with relationships, home, and identity. (May 17, 1 p.m.)

On a similar note, “Love Gets a Room,” inspired by true events during the 1942 Nazi occupation of Poland, is the romantic story of a Jewish stage actress who must decide between staying with her lover and escaping the Warsaw ghetto. (May 22, 7 p.m.)

On May 8 at 7 p.m., the festival switches gears with “A Night of Shorts,” a showcase of six exciting and thought-provoking short films from across the world, including the 2024 Academy Award nominated, “Letter to a Pig.”

The political thriller, “Shoshana,” is inspired by real events. Set in 1930s Tel Aviv – then a new European Jewish city being built on the shores of the Mediterranean – romance, espionage, and violence converge to create a suspenseful and personal time capsule of that dramatic time in Israel’s history. (May 19, 1 p.m.)

Finally, on lighter notes, two comedies complete the menu. “Yaniv” is a madcap and absurd tale that unpacks Jewish identity, male friendship, and public education – all in one lighthearted package. After funding is cut for the school musical, a high school teacher in the Bronx resolves to earn it back by recruiting a fellow statistics teacher (who is secretly a card counter and recovering gambling addict) to cheat at an underground card game run by the Hasidic Jewish community. Special guests Amnon Carmi (producer, director, and cowriter) and Benjamin Ducoff (producer, lead actor, and cowriter) will be joining live to introduce the film. (May 4, 1 p.m.)

“No Name Restaurant” chronicles a whimsical road trip. When ultra-Orthodox Ben, from Brooklyn, sets out to rescue Alexandria, Egypt’s dwindling Jewish community, he finds himself marooned in the Sinai Desert. His last glimmer of hope rests with Adel, a gruff Bedouin in search of his lost camel. At first, they clash over cultural misunderstandings, until Adel’s broken-down truck unites them in a fight for survival. (May 14, 1 p.m.) Θ

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