Vacation season is over, the kids are back in school, and the action-hero blockbuster has officially left the multiplex. Fall is the time for grownups to go back to the movies. In addition to the more mature offerings at your local theater, check out the selections at the film festival at your local JCC. Many JCCs sponsor film festivals featuring movies from all over the world. Ranging from documentaries to features, JCC film festivals screen dozens of wonderful movies that rarely or never come to commercial theaters.
Most, though not all, JCC film festivals focus on the richness and variety of the Jewish experience, and almost all showcase Israeli films. Israel’s film industry has grown dramatically in the last 15 years, both in the number of films produced and in their quality. As evidence, Israeli films have been nominated for Oscars for the last three years.
The Harry & Rose Samson JCC in Milwaukee’s film festival is focusing on young people with movies about an ultra-Orthodox baseball team, a historical drama about a girl growing up in Argentina, and an Israeli coming-of-age story. The Merage JCC of Orange County, California is screening films from Russia, Argentina, Canada, Mexico, and Germany, as well as the U.S. At the Mandel JCC in Cleveland, film lovers can see the Oscar-nominated Ajami from Israel, along with a documentary about a midwife who has delivered over thirty thousand babies. Also screening is Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story, narrated by Dustin Hoffman.
The JCC in Manhattan shows films all year long and also presents two specialty film festivals. One, called The Other Israel, features movies about Arab Israeli citizens, who make up a fifth of Israel’s population. Reelabilities is a film festival dedicated to movies about people with various disabilities. Back on the West Coast, the Addison Penzack JCC of Silicon Valley is a major sponsor of the Silicon Valley Jewish Film Festival, which offers a wide array of films this October, including a movie about Israeli sumo wrestlers and another about the Lubavitch emissary to Ho Chi Minh City.
In addition to the place where your kids go to preschool, and the spot where you do yoga and take a ceramics class, the JCC is also THE place to go to the movies!