At Jerusalem film fest, Curious George and sexually curious Jews star
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At Jerusalem film fest, Curious George and sexually curious Jews star

Annual festival kicks off over Hanukkah with 'Call Me by Your Name,' thought to be likely Oscar contender

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

From 'Call Me By Your Name,' the opening film at the upcoming 19th Jewish Film Festival, December 16-21, at the Jerusalem Cinematheque (Courtesy Jerusalem Cinematheque)
From 'Call Me By Your Name,' the opening film at the upcoming 19th Jewish Film Festival, December 16-21, at the Jerusalem Cinematheque (Courtesy Jerusalem Cinematheque)

The Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival returns for the 19th year this Hanukkah on December 16-21, opening with “Call Me by Your Name,” a romantic drama first screened at Sundance and Berlin that now looks to be a contender in the upcoming Oscars season.

The film is an adaptation of André Aciman’s novel directed by Luca Guadagnino, depicting the summer vacation of precocious 17-year-old Elio who is on holiday with his family in 1980s Italy. Elio has a passionate romance with his father’s teaching assistant, as they bond over their intense sexuality and shared Jewish heritage against the beauteous landscapes of rural Italy.

Other highlights of the film fest include screenings of “Darkest Hour,” directed by Joe Wright, about the first four weeks of Winston Churchill, portrayed by Gary Oldman, as prime minister of the United Kingdom, and a special screening of “Rage and Glory,” a newly restored digital copy of Avi Nesher’s 1984 film about Eddie the Butcher, a member of the Stern Gang who was sent to Jerusalem to assassinate a senior British officer. That screening will be followed by a conversation between Nesher and film critic Yair Raveh.

Some 40 other films will be screened during the festival, including some of the best Jewish cinema of the last year, with Israeli films, international documentary cinema and short films.

“One category that seems to attract everyone is the Great Jewish Minds genre,” said Daniella Tourgeman, who directs the Jewish Film Festival.

Those films are about Jewish thinkers and artists such as Leonard Cohen (which is already sold out), Billy Wilder, Ephraim Kishon, Zac Posen, Coco Chanel and even Curious George.

Tourgeman pointed out Vogue’s “House of Z,” about the rise and fall of designer Zac Posen, as well as “Never Be Boring,” about filmmaker Billy Wilder.

“The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators,” is about Hans and Margret Rey, the Jewish refugees, ho created the beloved monkey, and the film was (curiously) made by a Japanese filmmaker, said Tourgeman.

The festival also also hosts a film competition, as well as a series of films from ultra-Orthodox filmmakers at the Ma’aleh School of Television, Film and the Arts, Home Movie Day and several other events for local moviegoers.

Tickets cost NIS 39 apiece, and can be purchased online at the Jerusalem Cinematheque or by calling *9377.

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