It’s a first for the Duke City – and organizers hope it’s the beginning of something great.
The inaugural Jewish Film Festival will run today-Tuesday, March 11 and is sponsored by the Jewish Community Center.
“The JCC is a community center open to the entire community,” says Phyllis Wolf, director of arts and culture at the JCC. “We wanted to show films that showcase the Jewish culture because a lot of people don’t know about it.”
Wolf says the center always wanted to add a film festival to its annual events.
“Who doesn’t love to watch movies?” she says. “This is a medium where people can be entertained and informed at the same time.”
Wolf says picking the handful of films for the festival was an easy task.
“It was simple with the fact that we wanted to show a diverse mix of movies,” she says. “Jews have been influential in every aspect of society. Whether it’s baseball or on Broadway, society has had very successful Jewish people in various categories.”
The Albuquerque Jewish Film Festival will screen a total of four films, and will be using two locations – the JCC and the African-American Performing Arts Center at Expo New Mexico.
The line-up will showcase a rich and varied program of contemporary American, Canadian and Israeli films, with themes that range from Major League baseball and Broadway to the Holocaust.
“These excellent films celebrate the Jewish experience while illuminating the human experience,” says Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld of Congregation Albert.
- The first screening is “Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy” at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 8 at the JCC.
The film examines the unique role of Jewish composers and lyricists in the creation of the modern American musical.
The film showcases the work of legends such as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, George and Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim. It provides insight, alongside standout performances and archival footage. It was made in 2012 and runs 84 minutes.
- The next two screenings will be held at the African American Performing Arts Center at Expo New Mexico.
“The Gatekeepers” screens at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 9. The film was an Academy Award nominee for best documentary last year.
It provides an unprecedented look inside Israel’s Secret Service, featuring interviews with six former heads of the Shin Bet. Shin Bet has dealt with conflict amid the quest for peace for nearly 50 years. For the first time, these men discuss the challenging truths and consequences of their counterterrorism mission. It runs 101 minutes and is in Hebrew with English subtitles.
- “Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story” will screen at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 9. The documentary is narrated by actor Dustin Hoffman and highlights the contributions of Jewish Americans to the most American sport of them all: baseball. Enjoy a rare interview with legendary pitcher Sandy Koufax and commentary from Larry King, Ron Howard, Al Rosen and Shawn Green. It runs 91 minutes.
- Closing out the festival at the JCC is “Hava Nagila” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 11. The Jewish song is played at weddings, bar mitzvahs and even at Major League Baseball games. The film reveals the power of one song to express and sustain identity, to transmit lessons across generations and to bridge cultural divides and connect us all. It runs 73 minutes.