Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival returns

Monday, November 21, 2011 - 2:15pm

BATON ROUGE, LA (FOX44) - The Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival returns to the Manship Theatre for its sixth year with another award-winning lineup. For four days, the Festival will present a variety of internationally recognized films. The event kicks off on Saturday, January 21, 2012, and continues through Tuesday, January 24, 2012.

The Festival premieres on Saturday, January 21 at 7:00 p.m. with a screening of Jewish Soldiers in Blue & Gray. This documentary explores the little known history of Jewish citizens who fought on both sides of the Civil War battlefield—7,000 for the Union and 3,000 for the Confederacy. Allegiances during the War Between the States split the Jewish community as deeply as it did the nation at large. Some prominent Jews, including Jewish slave owners, cited the Torah to justify slavery, while others were leaders in the abolitionist movement or established their synagogues as stops on the Underground Railroad. Director Jonathan Gruber will speak with the audience after the screening.

On Sunday, January 22, the Festival will continue with two films. The Matchmaker (nominated for five Israeli Film Academy Awards and winner of two) starts at 1:00 p.m. The movie is a fresh take on the familiar themes of a boy’s coming-of-age as well as the shadow cast on Israel by the Holocaust. One of the most interesting aspects explored by the filmmaker is the discomfort many Israelis felt towards the survivors living their community, even when those survivors were their members of their own families.

“We’ve seen a lot of movies about Holocaust survivors and their secrets,” says Julie Hoffman, co-chair of the Festival, “but this is a unique and insightful story about children who are anxious about what they think their parents might be hiding.”

Following The Matchmaker, at 4:00 p.m. is the comedy The Infidel. It’s a story about Mahmud, a British Muslim who works at a London cab company. He is not the strictest Muslim – he likes his football, the odd drink and would rather play with his two charming children than pray five times a day. Then he discovers he was adopted and that his birth parents were Jewish. He befriends Lenny, a rival cabbie, and tries to learn how to ‘be Jewish’ so he can gain entry into the home where his real father lies dying.

On Monday, January 23, at 7:00 p.m., the Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival will screen Beaufort (Oscar nominated for Best Foreign Film of 2007). Beaufort means “beautiful fortress” and the movie tells the story of the real-life military landmark along the scenic road to Damascus. The fort started as a Roman encampment and was built up by the 12th century Crusaders. Centuries later it was controlled by the PLO during the 1970s civil war in Lebanon. It was eventually captured by the Israeli army during the 1982 Lebanon War. Beaufort is set in 2000 as protesting Israeli citizens and Hezbollah fighters pressure the army to retreat. Tension mounts as personalities clash while the men wait for orders from higher-ups on how to proceed.

Says Hoffman, “This is a universal portrait of soldiers on the ground facing up to what it means to serve in an army of a fallible, democratic country whose wartime goals are often confusing and contradictory.”

Nora’s Will concludes the film festival on Tuesday, January 24, at 7:00 p.m. The movie tells the story of José and Nora who were married for 20 years and (as the movie opens) have been divorced for at least that long. And after all these years, he still lives across the street from her and she still spies on him with her binoculars. Just before Passover, she finally succeeds in committing suicide after decades of failed attempts. José is convinced she planned for him to discover her body—and the full Seder meal she prepared and stored in carefully labeled Tupperware containers. The only flaw in her plan is a mysterious photograph forgotten under the bed.

“It is a flaw,” says Hoffman, “that reminds us that the biggest love stories are sometimes hidden in the smallest places.” Winner of Mexico’s Best Picture Award, The Los Angeles Times called Nora’s Will a film with “universal appeal.”

Tickets go on sale October 15 and are available through the Manship Theatre box office. Reserved seats are $8.50. To order tickets, call (225)344-0334 or (866)451-2787, or click here. Tickets will also be available at the door one hour before each screening (on a space-available basis).



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