The 24th Annual Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival will begin Sunday, March 29 with a heart-pounder, Crescendo, and close Sunday, April 5 with a heart-throbber, Aulcie.
In between there will be 16 other films, including three in a special Family Feature Film series (see related story, page 15).
“This year’s powerhouse line-up is the most eclectic that we have seen in years,” says Festival Co-Chair Loni Shelef. “The films will delight moviegoers with topics varying from stories of complex and discreet family situations, love stories, heroic Holocaust survival, Jewish values and traditions and, of course, Jewish humor and extraordinary entertainment.”
The festival is a production of the Tampa JCCs & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Florida’s Gulf Coast.
“The evolved festival is now displaying 29 showings across the Bay,” said committee Co- Chair Sara Scher.
New to the venue roster is AMC Woodland Square 20 in Oldsmar. Returning venues include AMC Sundial 20, St. Petersburg; Bryan Glazer Family JCC, Tampa; Studio Movie Grill, Seminole; and Villagio Cinemas at Carrollwood, Tampa.
“The week-long festival is packed with films that truly merit celebration,” said Scher, starting with the opening night film, Crescendo, by Oscar nominated and Israeli-born director Dror Shahalvi.
The March 29 event will begin with hors d’oeuvres and a cocktail hour at 5 p.m. at the Bryan Glazer Family JCC, 522 N. Howard Ave., Tampa. The Patel Conservatory Orchestra will perform throughout the evening.
Opening ceremonies will include presentation of the annual STARR Award, for those who have helped make the film fest a success. This year’s recipients are Terri and Robert Tankel and Bill Fleece, who represents the Herman Forbes Charitable Trust. “They have all been long term supporters of the festival, not only financially, but they all market the festival to outside groups,” said Brandy Gold, director of the film festival. “They are all true cheerleaders to the Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival and have created quite a following when engaging in our events.”
The 2020 graduating class of the Hope Cohen Barnett Leadership Institute will also be recognized during opening ceremonies.
Each year a screening committee selects the films for the festival. This year the committee, comprised of 30 film aficionados, was led by co-chairs Stewart Donnell and Roxana Levin.
A variety of activities have been planned in conjunction with this year’s film offerings:
• After the showing of Hate Among Us on Monday, March 30, there will be a panel discussion moderated by the Tampa Federation’s Jen Goldberg, executive director of Jewish Learning and Combatting Anti-Semitism.
• Following the showing of Indictment on Thursday, April 2, there will be a prerecorded Skype interview with Director Yaron Zilberman.
• Another pre-recorded Skype interview will be shown after the airing of I Was Not Born A Mistake on April 4 with transgender Yiscah Smith, who is the subject of the film.
• For three other films – God of the Piano, King Bibi and Those Who Remained – there will be “Conversation Café” discussions of the movies, moderated by Anat Schatzberger.
In addition, the film festival has two guest speakers in its line-up, both on the final day of the film fest, Sunday, April 5 at the Glazer JCC:
• Keren Ben-Horin is the historian, fashion curator and author behind the movie Mrs. G, which is about the famous Gottex empire. She will speak following the documentary’s screening at 2 p.m.
• Dani Menken, director of two documentaries being shown this year – The Picture of My Life and Aulcie – will lead a Q&A following the 5 p.m. showing of the Jury Award-winning film Aulcie (See synopsis below). Menken will chat with the audience and lead a live auction for an autographed basketball from the movie’s subject Aulcie Perry.
Major sponsors of the 2020 Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival are the Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs, Hillsborough County, Herman Forbes Charitable Trust, Film Tampa Bay and Sara and David Scher. To become a corporate sponsor, patron of the Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival, contact (813) 769-4725 or donate online at TBJFF.org.
General movie admission is $10, while costs vary for special programs. To purchase tickets or learn more about this year’s line-up of films and events, visit tbjff.org.
The following are descriptions of the opening and closing films, as well as four others which will be shown in the first three days of the festival.
Crescendo – Sunday, March 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Bryan Glazer Family JCC
When world-famous conductor Eduard Sporck (Peter Simonischek) accepts the job to create an Israeli-Palestinian youth orchestra, he is quickly drawn into a tempest of sheer unsolvable problems. Having grown up in a state of war, suppression or constant risk of terrorist attacks, the young musicians from both sides are far from able to form a team. Lined up behind the two best violinists – the emancipated Palestinian Layla and the handsome Israeli Ron – they form two parties who deeply mistrust each other, on and offstage alike. Will Sporck succeed and make the young people forget their hatred, at least for the three weeks until the concert? With the first glimmer of hope, however, the political opponents of the orchestra show them how strong they are… Loosely inspired by Daniel Barenboim’s West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Academy-Award nominated director Dror Zahavi (Alexander Penn, and Everything for my Father) directs this gripping drama as a constantly growing “crescendo,” raising the tension and conflicts until the last frame. A remarkable theatrical movie and contribution to the worldwide efforts toward understanding, humanity and peace.
Aulcie – Sunday, April 5 at 3 p.m. at Bryan Glazer Family JCC
Aulcie tells the inspiring story of Aulcie Perry, a basketball legend who led Maccabi Tel Aviv to an upset win in the European Championships. During the summer of 1976, Perry was spotted by a scout for Maccabi Tel Aviv while playing at the Rucker courts in Harlem and was quickly signed to play for their fledgling team. The Israeli players immediately responded to Perry’s leadership and that year they had what one Sports Illustrated writer described as “the most extraordinary season in its remarkable history” and what Perry later called “the best nine months of my life.” In 1977, Perry helped the team to its first European Championship, a prize they took four years later again under his leadership. His celebrity only grew after he fell in love with an Israeli model. To the surprise of many, Perry converted to Judaism, adopted the Hebrew name Elisha Ben Avraham, and became an Israeli citizen. Despite all the triumphs, though, there is a dark side to the story, as Perry struggles with drug addiction.
Saul & Ruby, To Life! – Monday, March 30 at 4 p.m. at Bryan Glazer Family JCC and Tuesday, March 31 at1 p.m. at AMC Woodlands Square 20, Oldsmar
Saul, 94, a drummer, and Ruby, 90, accordion player, are both Holocaust survivors and musicians with an insatiable lust for life. When filming began of the documentary, they had just formed The Holocaust Survivor Band, the first of its kind. Their dream was to one day perform their music in Poland, their homeland where they endured unimaginable trauma. Their mission then, and now, is to spread a message of world peace at a time when anti-Semitism and prejudice are growing throughout the world. Through the sharing of their music and stories, they have learned that they are also healing their own wounds while revealing their resilience.
Hate Among Us – Monday, March 30 at 7 p.m. at Bryan Glazer Family JCC; panel discussion to follow
This film depicts unique perspectives on anti-Semitism from young and old alike, from Jew and non-Jew, from within historic Jewish neighborhoods in Europe, to the streets of Charlottesville and Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue massacre. This narrative connects real stories of current survivors of violent anti-Semitism, to those of the Holocaust. Hate Among Us illustrates how renewed intolerance is taking root in our communities, institutions and universities, with far reaching consequences around the world.
Love In Suspenders – Tuesday, March 31 at 7 p.m. at AMC Woodlands Square 20 and Wednesday, April 1 at 7:15 p.m. at Carrollwood Villagio Cinemas
Tami is a 64-year old widow when she gets into a car accident with Beno, a 70-year-old sarcastic lone wolf widower. They are both still suffering from the loss of their loved ones when, in hopes of avoiding a lawsuit, she invites Beno over to her place. There are sharp differences in lifestyle and personality, but eventually they fall in love. Will the romance survive the scrutiny of their children?
Picture Of His Life – Tuesday, March 31 at 3 p.m. at AMC Woodlands Square 20 and Wednesday, April 1 at 3:30 p.m. at Carrollwood Villagio Cinemas.
World renowned wildlife photographer Amos Nachoum has swam with and photographed anacondas, giant leopard seals, great white sharks, orcas and crocodiles, all while unprotected. Now, at the age of 65, he is about to face his ultimate challenge: to swim, face to face with a polar bear while taking its picture. Nachoum was the featured speaker at the 2018 Bubbles and Bubbly gala fundraiser in Tampa for Hillels of the Florida Suncoast. His interest in conservation brings attention to the most fragile regions of the underwater realm, with preservation of the environment foremost in his mind.
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The rest of the film festival movies will be profiled in the March 13 issue of the Jewish Press. They are:
• God Of The Piano – Wednesday, April 1 at 11:30 a.m. and Friday, April 3 at 4 p.m., both at Carrollwood Villagio Cenemas
• Those Who Remained – Wednesday, April 1 at 1:30 p.m. and Friday, April 3 at 2 p.m., both at Carrollwood Villagio Cinemas
• My Polish Honeymoon – Thursday, April 2 at 2:15 p.m. at Carrollwood Villagio Cinemas and Thursday, April 2 at 2:15 p.m. at Studio Movie Grill in Seminole
• Incitement – Thursday, April 2 at 7:15 p.m. at Carrollwood Villagio Cinemas and Thursday, April 2 at 7:15 p.m. at Studio Movie Grill, Seminole
• King Bibi – Thursday, April 2 at noonat Carrollwood Villagio Cinemas and Thursday, April 2 at noon at Studio Movie Grill, Seminole
• Latter Day Jew – Friday, April 3 at noon at Carrollwood Villagio Cinemas and Saturday, April 4 at 8 p.m. at AMC Sundial 20, St. Pete
• I Was Not Born a Mistake – Saturday, April 4 at 9:45 p.m. at AMC Sundial 20, St. Pete
• Chewdaism, a Taste of Jewish Montreal – Sunday, April 5 at 1:30 p.m. at Bryan Glazer Family JCC
• Mrs. G –Sunday, April 5 at noonat Bryan Glazer Family JCC
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