I frequently write about Jewish film and images of Jews in cinema. So it is worth noting that he Australian Jewish Film Festival – now known as the Jewish International Film Festival – has announced its preliminary line-up for the November Sydney and Melbourne screenings. More than 40 films are planned, a mixture of dramatic features and documentaries, focusing on Australian premiere screenings.
The Festival’s announcement yesterday (1 July 2013) highlighted four films:
Fill the Void (photo below), selected as Israel’s entry for Best Foreign Language Picture at the 2013 Academy Awards, is set amongst Tel Aviv’s ultra-Orthodox Hassidic enclave and tells the story of an 18 year-old girl who finds herself torn between love and duty when pressured to marry the husband of her late sister.
In Rock the Casbah, first-time writer/director, Yariv Horowitz follows a group of young Israeli soldiers assigned to watch over a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip during the summer of 1989 at the height of the intifada.
A new film by iconic documentarian Claude Lanzmann (“Shoah”) also features: The Last of the Unjust explores the story of Benjamin Murmelstein, the last president of the Jewish Council in Czechoslovakia’s Theresienstadt ghetto, who was accused of collaborating with the Nazis.
I am particularly looking forward to Hannah Arendt, a dramatic recreation of the life of the German-Jewish from renowned German-Jewish philosopher and political theorist, with Barbara Sukowa (Berlin Alexanderplatz, Europa) in the title role. Arendt’s book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (originally a five-part article for The New Yorker in 1961), described the trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann in the early 1960s, and was highly controversial in its day.
On the basis of these four films, it does appear that Israel and the Holocaust continue to dominate the latest international Jewish film-making. The beauty of a “curated” festival like this is that we can sense what themes are operating in the Jewish world today, beyond the daily news. It’s an invaluable snapshot into our collective unconscious.
The Festival will screen in Sydney from 31 October through 17 November, and in Melbourne from 6 through 24 November.