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Cinematheque’s Jewish Film Fest brings range of movies for Hanukkah viewing

The annual film event includes screenings, discussions and talks with filmmakers and creators exploring Jewish thinkers, artists and activists

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

Noted Jewish philosopher and writer Bernard Henri-Lévy during the filming of 'The Will to See,' about suffering in war-torn areas worldwide, which will be screened at the Jewish Film Festival, November 29-December 2, 2021 (Courtesy 'The Will to See' PR)
Noted Jewish philosopher and writer Bernard Henri-Lévy during the filming of 'The Will to See,' about suffering in war-torn areas worldwide, which will be screened at the Jewish Film Festival, November 29-December 2, 2021 (Courtesy 'The Will to See' PR)

Films about Jewish thinkers, artists, activists and other creative types will fill the screens of the Jerusalem Cinematheque for the upcoming Jewish Film Festival, November 27 through December 2.

The six-day event includes films about the Holocaust, documentary portraits of well-known Jewish figures and Israeli films.

This year, Times of Israel readers receive a 20% discount to all films and events with the following code: jjff21.

Many of the films deal with the subject of creating art during wartime, said Daniella Tourgeman, the festival’s artistic director.

“There’s this overarching concept of working passionately on a work of art, theater, literature or music during the most trying times,” said Tourgeman.

She pointed to the opening movie, “The Royal Game” from Nachshon Films, an adaptation of the novel “Chess Novella” about an Austrian attorney who is caught by the Gestapo and placed under arrest in a hotel, and how playing chess subverts his trauma.

Another example is “Charlotte,” an animated film about Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon, considered the major female Jewish painter of the 20th century, who created much of her work while hiding from the Nazis.

Another Holocaust-era film, “A Radiant Girl,” about a young woman living in Paris during the war, where she is passionately involved in theater and seemingly unaware of the war raging around her, shows that same dedication to craft, said Tourgeman.

There was fierce competition to get into the Jerusalem event this year, said Tourgeman, because the production of so many films was delayed during the height of the pandemic and filmmakers are now vying for placement.

“There are double the number of films so it’s a technical issue,” said Tourgeman. “But the focus on creation also had to do with what the world has been experiencing for the last two years.”

Other notable events during the festival include the screening of “The Lehman Trilogy,” a play about the Lehman banking family, directed by Sam Mendes and filmed live in London’s West End.

Noted Jewish philosopher and writer Bernard Henri-Lévy will be present for the screening of “The Will to See,” his documentary about human suffering and misery in war-torn locations worldwide, based on his 2021 book, “The Will to See: Dispatches from a World of Misery and Hope.”

Documentary “Paul Newman, Behind Blue Eyes,” is about the actor’s political activism and charitable work, both aspects of his Jewish identity, and can be included as another film that looks at religion and identity through the prism of tikkun olam, repairing the world, said Tourgeman.

There are also portrait documentaries of Menachem Begin, Saul Bellow and George Soros, and an event with the Romanian ambassador to Israel about the ransom of Romanian Jews during World War II.

TV writer Hagai Levi, whose latest show is HBO’s “Scenes From a Marriage,” will be on hand for a conversation with colleague Anat Rivlin, about Judaism through the prism of love, longing, and loneliness, as will Ari Folman for the Hebrew screening of his latest animated feature, “Where is Anne Frank?” which opened the Jerusalem Film Festival during the summer.

A full listing with days and times is available on the Jerusalem Cinematheque website.

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