Dayton Jewish Film Festival seeks to educate, entertain

Nine-film lineup begins Thursday at Dayton Art Institute.

Universal stories of family, female empowerment, history, love, loss, music and more will be explored in the 22nd annual Dayton Jewish Film Festival slated June 2-26 at three venues across the Miami Valley.

The nine-film lineup begins Thursday at the Dayton Art Institute (456 Belmonte Park N.) with “That Orchestra with the Broken Instruments,” a tale of musicians from different backgrounds unifying in the face of adversity. Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Artistic Director and Conductor Neal Gittleman will speak before the film and there will be a post-film dessert reception as well.

Screenings will also take place at The Neon in downtown Dayton (130 E. Fifth St.) and the Little Art Theater in Yellow Springs (247 Xenia Ave.).

“This year, we have documentaries, dramas, thrillers and romantic comedies,” said Marc Jacob, senior director of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Dayton. “The festival committee started the selection process last August. We made sure we had a cross section of films – true stories, solid stories –that would appeal to a wider audience. We wanted variety.”

The mission of the festival is to promote “awareness, appreciation and pride to the diversity of the Jewish people and to the community at large.” Community is certainly one of the driving factors, especially the ability of film to stir healthy dialogue. Jacob feels it is essential for the festival to be a thought-provoking learning experience for those outside the Jewish culture.

“There is an educational component to this festival,” he said. “We want to make sure we never forget about the Holocaust in the Jewish community, but we also want to use the Holocaust as a talking point for those who may not be Jewish who have questions about it. This festival is about education and entertainment.”

“The human emotion, the human element, can be appreciated by anyone of any background,” added Helen Jones, program administrator for the Jewish Community Center of Greater Dayton. “You don’t have to be Jewish to relate to these movies. These movies deal with universal struggles we all share.”

In addition to Gittleman, guest speakers include: Elliot Ratzman, Chair of Jewish Studies in Earlham College’s Religion Department; Martha Moody Jacobs, a novelist and retired physician teaching middle school students in an Arab village in Israel; and Renate Frydman, founder of the Dayton Holocaust Resource Center and the Charles and Renate Frydman Educational Resource Center.

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Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Also, Cantor Andrea Raizen serves as festival chair and Judy Schwartzman serves as vice chair.

Opening night single tickets are $18 and includes the movie and reception. Single tickets for all other movies are $12. Season passes are available for $75 and includes opening night movie and reception and all other movies. The festival is also offering a virtual option.

For more information, visit jewishdayton.org. Film synopses provide by Jewish Community Center of Greater Dayton.

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The 2022 Dayton Jewish Film Festival Schedule:

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Thursday, June 2 at 7 p.m.

Dayton Art Institute

Guest Speaker: Neal Gittleman

“That Orchestra with the Broken Instruments”

2021 – 1 hour, 19 minutes – Documentary, Musical Film –

Hebrew, English, Arabic (with subtitles)

Country: Israel

“A broken string, fractured echo chamber, rustling valves. One brilliant conductor, three gifted composers, and 100 musicians meet for four days of rehearsals. They speak different languages. Their instruments are broken. An orchestra of professional and amateur musicians, young and old, prepare, against all odds, for a one-time-only concert for the Mekudeshet festival. A poetic, engaging take on broken and whole presents an eclectic array of Jerusalemites and their determined attempt, even if it’s just for one night, to create harmony out of a discordant city.”

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Tuesday, June 7 at 7 p.m.

The Neon

“Plan A”

2021 – 1 hour, 49 minutes – Drama, Thriller – English, German (with subtitles)

Country: Germany

“Germany, 1945. Max, a Jewish Holocaust survivor, meets a radical group of Jewish resistance fighters, who, like him, lost all hope for their future after they were robbed of their existence and their entire families were killed by the Nazis. They dream of retaliation on an epic scale for the Jewish people. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Max starts identifying with the group’s monstrous plans.”

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Thursday, June 9 at 7 p.m.

The Neon

Guest Speaker: Elliot Ratzman

“Neighbors”

2021 – 2 hours, 4 minutes – Drama – Kurdish (with subtitles)

Country: Switzerland, France

“In a Syrian border village in the early 1980s, little Sero attends school for the first time. A new teacher has arrived with the goal of making strapping Panarabic comrades out of the Kurdish children. To enable paradise to come to earth, he uses the rod to forbid the Kurdish language, orders the veneration of Assad and preaches hate of the Zionist enemy – the Jews. The lessons upset and confuse Sero because his longtime neighbors are a lovable Jewish family. With a fine sense of humor and satire, the film depicts a childhood which manages to find light moments between dictatorship and dark drama.”

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Monday, June 13 at 7 p.m.

The Neon

“One More Story”

2021 – 1 hour, 31 minutes – Comedy, Romance – Hebrew (with subtitles)

Country: Israel

“Yarden Gat is a young and brilliant journalist working on a famous newspaper, who does not believe in love. When she eventually decides to go on a date, she reveals all her cards to the person she meets. She tells him that she slept with her boss and ruined her friend’s chance of having true love when she made him go out on a date each day of the month with a different woman, only to get a humiliating scoop for the newspaper. Maybe not the best story for a first date…Will any of them eventually find true love?”

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Wednesday, June 15, 7 p.m., Little Art Theater

Thursday, June 16, 7 p.m., The Neon

“Berenshtein”

2021 – 1 hour, 50 minutes – Biography, History, War – Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, German (with subtitles)

Country: Israel

“The last surviving member of the great partisans who located Hitler’s secret weapon, the V2 missile development facility, revisits his past as a soldier in World War II. By diving into his traumatic memories, he is forced to grapple with the dissociation and loss of identity that ensued after the war. Despite this adversity, it becomes clear that he is able to stay true to his values through it all Based on the true story of Leonid Berenshtein.”

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Thursday, June 16 at 10 a.m.

The Neon

Guest Speaker: Martha Moody Jacobs

“Cinema Sabaya”

2021 – 1 hour, 31 minutes – Drama, Comedy – Hebrew, Arabic

Country: Israel, Belgium

“Nine women, Arab and Jewish, take part in a video workshop hosted by Rona, a young film director, who teaches them how to document their lives. With each raw homemade footage shot by the women and shared with the others, the group dynamic forces them to challenge their views and beliefs as they get to know each other and themselves better.”

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Credit: REGASH

Tuesday, June 21 at 7 p.m.

The Neon

“200 Meters”

2020 – 1 hour, 36 minutes – Drama, Adventure – Arabic, Hebrew, English

Country: Palestine, Jordan, Qatar

“Mustafa and his wife Salwa live 200 meters apart in villages separated by the Israeli border wall. One day he gets a call every parent dreads; his son has been injured in an accident. Rushing to cross the Israeli checkpoint, Mustafa is denied on a technicality. But a father’s love won’t give up and he will do anything to reach his son. A 200-meter distance becomes a 200-kilometer odyssey, as Mustafa, left with no choice, attempts to smuggle himself to the other side of the wall.”

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Thursday, June 23 at 7 p.m.

The Neon

Guest Speaker: Renate Frydman

“I Am Here”

2021 – 1 hour, 13 minutes – Documentary, Biography – English, Yiddish, Hebrew

Country: South Africa

“Ella Blumenthal is not your average 98-year-old. Her feisty and magnetic personality makes her past even more surprising. Follow this spirited South African Holocaust survivor as she reveals to her family her astonishing life journey and her unwavering appreciation of life.”

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Sunday, June 26 at 7 p.m.

The Neon

“Wet Dog”

2020 – 1 hour, 43 minutes – Drama – German (with subtitles)

Country: Germany

“The 16-year-old Iranian Soheil moves to Berlin-Wedding with his parents. He quickly befriends some Turkish and Arab youth from the Husseyn gang and falls in love with the Turkish girl Selma from the parallel class. What Soheil doesn’t tell his friends; he’s not a Muslim, but a Jew.”

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