PJFF: Documentaries & Dialogue 2012

The Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival presents a six-film series of current documentaries with accompanying speakers.  The series kicks off next Monday and continues every Monday through February 6.  All screenings will be held at the Prince Music Theater with 7 PM start times.  Here’s the schedule:

Monday, January 9, 7 PM
Crime After Crime (2011)
Dir. Yoav Potash, US, 95 min
Guest: Joshua Safran, Lawyer for subject Deborah Peager’s case
“Justice, justice shall you pursue,” commands the Torah, but what happens when justice eludes even the most airtight case for mercy?  This riveting documentary follows rookie California land use lawyers Joshua Safran, an orthodox Jew, and Nadia Costa as they try to win the freedom of Deborah Peager, a charismatic African-American woman whose decades in jail for the murder of her abusive boyfriend have been as personally transformative as her legal case has been Kafaesque.

Monday, January 16, 7 PM
Nicky’s Family (2011)
Dir. Matej Minac, Cambodia/Czech Republic/Israel/Slovakia/UK/US, 96 min
Guest: Director Matej Minac
A young British stockbroker finds himself in Prague at the onset of the German invasion.  Spurred into action by the plight of the Jews, Nicholas Winton organizes an ad-hoc operation that saves over 600 Jewish children, bringing them to England in the nick of time.  This is the story of the children Nicky saved as decades later they first discover the series of events that led to their rescue by an anonymous patron.  Audience Award Winner at the 2011 Karlovy Vary Film Festival.

Monday, January 23, 7 PM
Just Like Home (2009)
Dir. Alexander Gentelev, Russia/Israel, 58 min
Guest: Director Alexander Gentelev (via Skype)
Just Like Home is as powerful as it is heartbreaking — a significant documentary about an epidemic that continues to be under-reported and in some cases completely ignored by the mainstream media.  What happens to the children of parents who are so addicted to drugs or alcohol they are no longer able to provide for their kids?  At best, these kids end up sleeping on street corners.  At worst, they turn to gangs, drugs, and violence as a means of survival.  In Moscow, there are over 50,000 such “street children,” mostly from broken or abusive homes.  Enter Svetlana and Raphael Khakhiashvili.  For the past ten years “Teacher Sveta” and “Papa Raf” have managed Moscow’s Jewish Orphanage, home to children from across the country who have lived through such horrendous circumstances.  Thanks to their unconditional patience and love, these children have been able to slowly regain their trust in humanity and build a brighter future.

Monday, January 30, 7 PM
Inventing Our Lives: The Kibbutz Experiment (2010)
Dir. Toby Perl Freilich, US/Israel, 91 min
Guest: Ranan Omer-Sherman, Professor of English and Jewish Studies, U. of Miami
The Kibbutz movement produced Israel’s “greatest generation” of farmer-soldiers and socialist statesmen.  It was hailed by philosopher Martin Buber as the utopian “experiment that did not fail” and the “soul” of the new State of Israel.  Yet a hundred years after the first collective settlement was established in Palestine, the fortunes of the Kibbutzim have waxed and waned.  This illuminating documentary is the story of the idealistic first Israelis, their economic troubles and the hopeful recent innovations in collective living.
With additional short:
Strangers No More (2010)
Dir. Karen Goodman + Kirk Simon, US, 40 min
“It’s hard to film a miracle,” say Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon about their Academy Award-Winning Short Film depicting the exceptional Bialik-Rogozin School in the heart of Tel Aviv.  A second home to children from over forty-eight different countries, the school’s progressive and experimental program aims at acclimating recent immigrants, mostly non-Hebrew speaking, who have fled poverty and political adversity.  Here, what sets the staff and teachers apart is their dedication to understanding each family and child’s individual situation — the idea that their responsibilities do not end at the sound of the bell but when no child feels like a stranger in Israel.

Monday, February 6, 7 PM
Eichmann’s End (2010)
Dir. Raymond Ley, Germany, 86 min
Guest: Director Raymond Ley
This engrossing docudrama incorporates real testimony; transcripts of candid interviews Eichmann gave in hiding.  After WWII, SS officer Adolf Eichmann, the architect of The Final Solution, lived a modest if clandestine life in Argentina among German expatriates and sympathizers.  Though he was on the most wanted list of war criminals, Israeli and German police were skeptical of what some Argentinian Jews knew all too well:  that Eichmann was alive and escaping justice.  In a twist of fate, Eichmann’s teenage son dated the daughter of Lothar Hermann, a nearly-blind Holocaust survivor who helps the Israelis bring Eichmann to Jerusalem.  This satisfying and suspenseful film dramatizes an important episode in Jewish history.

Official site.

Author: Eric Bresler

Eric is the Founder/Site Editor of Cinedelphia.com whose additional activities are numerous: Director/Curator of the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA), founder of Tokyo No Records, the brain behind Video Pirates, and active local film programmer including the Unknown Japan screening series. He’s served as a TLA Video Manager, Philadelphia Film Society Managing Director, and Adjunct Professor in Cinema Studies at Drexel University. He is shy and modest. Email Eric.

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