This year’s Atlanta Jewish Film Festival has a plethora of great films and events to check out. We know it can be hard to nail down where to be and when, and while you should definitely take a look at the lineup yourself and try to see as many things as you possibly can, we’ve got a few suggestions we think you can’t miss.
Director Moshe Rosenthal’s debut feature film is making its Atlanta premiere on opening night of the festival. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was nominated for 14 Israeli Academy Awards, including Best Film.
The film follows a middle class couple who feel stuck in their marriage, when suddenly the mysterious bachelor upstairs offers a much-needed spark to their relationship. Starring Sasson Gabay and Rita Shukrun, both winning Israeli Academy Awards for their performances, the off-beat dramedy is a great pick for opening night.
The film will screen on Feb. 8 and Feb. 9 at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center. Both screenings include a Q&A session with Rosenthal.
“Killing Me Softly With His Songs”
“Happy Days?” “The Love Boat?” “Wide World of Sports?” We’re guessing the song for each of those television programs popped into your head with ease. But you might not know the man behind the music.
“Killing Me Softly With His Songs,” a documentary from filmmaker Danny Gold about composer Charles Fox, is set to play closing night of the festival. The film will screen twice on Feb. 21, and both screenings include a Q&A with Gold. For $36, attendees can gain access to the final screening, Jury Prize announcements, and a dessert reception.
The official Israeli entry for the Academy Awards is playing the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival this year. The Atlanta premiere of “Cinema Sabaya” will introduce audiences to a group of Arab and Jewish women who come together to learn self-expression through the power of film. The film was nominated for eight Israeli Academy Awards, with wins for Best Film, Best Director for Orit Fouks Rotem, and Best Supporting Actress for Joanne Said.
There will be three screenings of “Cinema Sabaya,” one on Feb. 11 at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, one on Feb. 12 at Georgia Theatre Company Merchants Walk, and one on Feb. 17 at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center. Each screening will include a Q&A session with Rotem and AIB Network Community Engagement Director Audrey Galex.
Young Professional’s Night
Presented by ACCESS, the American Jewish Committee’s young professional group, the festival’s Young Professionals Night will take place at the Woodruff Arts Center on Feb.18.
Every year, the festival holds a Young Professionals Night to bring together community partners from across the Atlanta area to indulge in food, drinks, and of course, film. This year, the night includes a screening of the French-Israeli film “Paris Boutique,” a romantic comedy about a Parisian woman who finds herself caught up in a mystery in Israel. Tickets can be purchased online.
New movies aren’t the only reason to be excited about the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. This year, you’ll have the opportunity to see some old favorites and hidden gems on the big screen.
“The Hourglass Sanatorium,” the Polish masterpiece that won the Cannes Jury Prize in 1973, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The film follows a Jewish man named Józef, who goes to visit his father in a strange sanatorium where he undergoes a psychedelic and mystical experience. The legacy of the Holocaust looms large over director Wojciech Jerzy Has’ film, and Polish authorities originally tried to suppress the film because of its sensitive material. The film will play at a special Late Night screening on Feb. 16, with a remastered soundtrack and frame-by-frame digital restoration by Martin Scorsese.
“Broken Barriers (Kahavah),” a 1919 silent film based on stories from Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem, is the first known American version of the author’s work. Decades later, the author’s tales would be adapted into the Broadway show and then movie “Fiddler on the Roof,” but this version doesn’t focus on Tevye. Instead, it centers on his daughter Khavah and her romance with a gentile boy named Fedka. Composer Donald Sosin will play live accompaniment on the Plaza Theater’s organ during a screening of this film on Feb. 19. The film is presented in partnership with The National Center for Jewish Film, who discovered and restored the film.
This year’s festival will also celebrate the 45th anniversary of “Girlfriends” with a showing on the big screen. Originally released in 1978, Claudia Weill’s indie gem stars Melanie Mayron as a lonely Jewish photographer dealing with the aftermath of her roommate moving out of their New York City apartment. Christopher Guest and Eli Wallach give great supporting performances. This film has been digitally restored from the 16mm original, and is preserved by the National Film Registry. The film will screen at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema on Feb. 12 and includes a Q&A session with Weill.
You’ll also have an opportunity to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Gérard Oury’s French comedy classic. “The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob” was a Golden Globe Best Foreign Film nominee, and will be playing the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival this year. The slapstick comedy follows two men – an uppity, rude businessman and a revolutionary – who disguise themselves as rabbis to escape from assassins. The movie will play at the Plaza Theatre on Feb. 18.
“In Conversation” Series
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival to pivot in certain ways. But not all of those changes were bad. This year, the AJFF will continue to hold their “In Conversation” series via Zoom, allowing audiences to participate in thought-provoking conversations from the comfort of home.
Register in advance online to join a discussion about the themes in the films below. All conversations begin at 9 a.m.
Feb. 16: “Converts: The Odyssey of Becoming Jewish” and “Stay With Us”
Feb. 19: “David Baddiel: Jews Don’t Count” and “The Conspiracy”
Feb. 20: “Everything Went Fine”