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Celebrating Judaism: Fifth Jewish Film Festival marks 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding

Phyllis Wolf’s goal for the fifth annual Jewish Film Festival is to find movies that celebrate the diversity of Jewish culture.

It’s not an easy task – yet she’s up for the challenge.

“I had to view at least 50 films to get the six that are screening,” she says. “The objective is to bring a good representation of the Jewish experience in just a few films.

The Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque puts on the festival each year. Wolf is the Director of Arts, Culture & Education at the JCC.

This year’s theme celebrates Israel’s 70th anniversary of statehood.

And a few of the movies touch on Israel, Wolf says.

For nearly a year, Wolf and the screening group keep an eye out for films with Jewish themes.

She often keeps tabs on other Jewish film festivals around the country.

“I’m curating the films throughout the year,” she says. “I also wait to see what comes along close to the dates of the film fest this year.”

Wolf is also excited about returning to the UA High Ridge movie theater for this year’s festival.

“This provides such a better viewing experience for attendees,” she says. “It’s also a bigger space so people can enjoy the film.”

Opening the festival at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 12, is “An Israeli Love Story.”

The film is set during the turbulent period of pre-state Israel.

It follows Margalit as she meets Eli on a bus and falls in love with him instantly. She tries to get close to him, but he’s too busy with the Palmach (Israel’s first fighting force).

Finally, the barriers come down, Margalit moves in with Eli, they set a date for their wedding, but Israel’s harsh reality intervenes.

“The film tells a very poignant story,” Wolf says. “The film is from Israel and is well-made.”

Elliott Gould and Jemaine Clement star in the comedy "Humor Me"

Elliott Gould and Jemaine Clement star in the comedy “Humor Me.”

“Humor Me” screens at 7 p.m. July 14 and stars Elliot Gould, Jemaine Clement, Annie Potts and Bebe Neuwirth. The film is a heartfelt father-son comedy about a struggling playwright who is forced to move in with Bob, his aging, joke-telling dad, in a New Jersey retirement community.

A scene from the documentary "Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel"

A scene from the documentary “Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel.”

Wolf is looking forward to the documentary “Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel,” which screens at 2 p.m. July 15.

The film charts the underdog journey of Israel’s national baseball team competing for the first time in the World Baseball Classic.

“It tells the story of how these men were brought together for the team,” Wolf says. “Even if you’re not a baseball or sports fan, the story is compelling and tells the story of sports patriotism.”

Richard Gere stars in the film "Norman: The Moderate Rise & Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer."

Richard Gere stars in the film “Norman: The Moderate Rise & Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer.”

At 7 p.m. July 16, the film “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” will screen. The film stars Richard Gere and Hank Azaria.

"Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story" tells the story of the 1940s actress.

“Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story” tells the story of the 1940s actress.

Then at 7 p.m. July 17, “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story” will screen.

The film tells the story of Hedy Lamarr, the 1940s screen siren and Austrian-Jewish émigré, who starred alongside Hollywood giants including Spencer Tracy, Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable.

 "Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story" follows of the life of Harold and Lillian Michelson, who left their mark working on many classic films

“Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story” follows the life of Harold and Lillian Michelson, who left their mark working on many classic films.

Closing the film festival at 7 p.m. July 18 is the documentary “Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story.” The film tells the story of Harold and Lillian Michelson, who worked with Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Mel Brooks, Stanley Kubrick, Roman Polanski. This film will screen at the JCC, 5520 Wyoming NE.

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