The 26th Annual Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival Streams Virtually Over 18 Days

For more than a quarter of a century, the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival (GPJFF) has celebrated Jewish culture through film, bringing an exciting lineup of films to Arizona, honoring Jewish traditions and heritage. From Feb. 10 through Feb. 27, the 26th Annual Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival will screen films showcasing the best of Jewish life, history and heritage. Due to ongoing health and safety concerns, the film festival will once again be held virtually.

Currently, the longest-running film festival in the Valley, the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival celebrates its 26th year by presenting more great films that make our festival even bigger and better – almost 3,400 minutes of Jewish cinema from dozens of different countries! Rejoice in this popular annual event with more than 30 feature-length and short films ranging from defiance and revenge, to fun and adventure, and to laughter and love, with something for everyone and stories that engage both mind and heart. Via just about any device, computer or Smart TV, the audience can travel from the beaches and shuks of Israel to the back lots and sound stages of Hollywood; from a tropical farm in Brazil to the witness stand of the United States Supreme Court; from the limestone hills of the island of Majorca to multiple villages and towns of wartime Europe.

Using innovative technology, the virtual festival allows participants to easily build a flexible customized plan to see every film. Post-film interviews with filmmakers and experts on a film’s subjects will be held seamlessly after many screenings.  In addition, a variety of international short films will play before many of the screenings.

For more information on the Festival or to purchase tickets starting January 17, visit gpjff.org. You can also follow the Festival on Twitter at @GPJFF or on Facebook at facebook.com/GreaterPhxJewishFilmFest.

What:  The 26th Annual Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival
When:  Feb. 10-27, 2022; tickets available beginning Jan. 17
Where: Virtually
Ticket prices (each ticket is good for one household):  $13 per individual household film ticket; $65 per household 6-pack of tickets; $225 per household Festival Pass.
Viewers will have 3 days to watch each film, with the ability to pause, rewind and even switch devices within the home.
Information: For more information or to purchase tickets, go to gpjff.org.

The films featured in this year’s festival are:

PERSIAN LESSONS

(Opening Film)

Holocaust Drama – (Russia/Germany/Belarus), 2020, 127 minutes, German, French, Persian, English, and Italian w/ English subtitles

 

A Jewish man in a German concentration camp pretends to have a mother from Belgium and a father from Iran. To stay alive, he convinces a Nazi who wants to learn Persian, that he speaks the language fluently, but one false move could expose his lie.

 

*

200 METERS

Drama – (Palestinian Territories), 2020, 96 mins., Arabic & Hebrew, w/ English subtitles

 

A 200-meter distance becomes a 200-kilometer odyssey when a Palestinian man, desperate to see his son after an accident, attempts to smuggle himself over the Israeli border wall.

 

*

LEAVING PARADISE 

Documentary – (USA), 2020 mins., 86 minutes, Portuguese, Spanish & Hebrew, w/ English subtitles

 

Cleo fulfilled his dream to leave the big city with his wife and 15 children to establish a family commune on a farm in Brazil, but exploring their family roots leads the children to discover their surprising Jewish heritage, which undermines the existence of the communal paradise.

 

*

THE RAFT

Family Adventure Drama – (Israel), 2020, 90 mins., Hebrew w/ English subtitles

 

Due to travel restrictions, four devoted youths decide to secretly build a raft and sail to the soccer championship game in Cyprus in what will become the adventure of their lifetime.

 

*

A TREE OF LIFE

Documentary – (USA), 2021, 80 mins., English

 

This documentary about the 2018 attack on Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue creates a very personal portrait of the victims, victims’ families, and the survivors of the deadliest attack of Jewish people on American soil.

 

*

PAUL NEWMAN, BEHIND BLUE EYES                                   

Biopic – (France), 2021, 52 minutes, English & French w/ English subtitles

 

Discover the life and personality of Paul Newman — the actor, the family man, and the philanthropist hiding behind his famous blue eyes, while uncovering the depth of the man who hid behind the magnetism of his gaze.

 

*

XUETA ISLAND

Documentary – (Spain), 2021, 63 mins., Catalan and Spanish w/ English subtitles

 

Explore the fascinating legacy of the Xuetas: a unique group of families on the Spanish island of Majorca who are believed to be descendants of the island’s Inquisition-era Jewish population. Forced to renounce their Judaism by the Catholic Church at the beginning of the 15th century, this group has reawakened their complex Jewish ties.

 

*

TIGER WITHIN

Drama – (USA), 2020, 90 mins., English

 

Ed Asner stars in this tender story about the unlikely friendship between a Holocaust survivor and a homeless teen runaway, sparking larger questions about fear, forgiveness and healing.

 

*

WET DOG

Drama – (Germany), 2020, 103 mins.,German w/ English subtitles

 

This film set in a largely Muslim neighborhood in Berlin, tells the story of 16-year old Iranian, Solheil, who is caught between hiding his Jewish identity and saving his friendships.

 

*

PLAN A

Holocaust Drama – (Germany/Israel), 2021, 109 mins., English

 

In 1945, to exact revenge, a group of Jewish Holocaust survivors planned to poison the water system in Germany. This true story tells of the dangerous and bold secret operation which was called Plan A.

 

*

A CRIME ON THE BAYOU

Documentary – (USA), 2021, 89 mins., English

 

In this true story, a black teenager bravely challenges the most powerful white supremacist in 1960s Louisiana with the help of a young Jewish attorney. Systemic racism meets its match in decisive courtroom battles, including the United States Supreme Court, and a lifelong friendship is born.

 

*

LABYRINTH OF PEACE

(Centerpiece Series — view all six episodes)

Historical Drama Series – (Switzerland), 2020. Six 60-minute episodes, Swiss German & French with English subtitles

 

This limited-run historical drama series takes place in 1945 immediately after war-torn Europe has been reduced to rubble and 30 million people are displaced and uprooted. At the heart of this ravaged continent lies Switzerland. This small neutral country, which has been all but spared by the war, becomes a hub for Nazi war criminals, Allied Secret Services and Holocaust survivors.

 

*

CARL LAEMMLE

Documentary – (USA), 2019, 91 mins., English

 

Carl Laemmle is the extraordinary life story of the German-American immigrant, an early cinema pioneer who founded Universal Pictures. By the time of his death in 1939, he saved over 300 Jewish refugee families from Nazi Germany.

 

*

THE ART DEALER

Historical Thriller – (France), 2015, 95 mins, French w/ English subtitles

 

A Jewish woman embarks on a journey to recover family paintings stolen by the Nazis, but during her investigation discovers that some family secrets are best kept hidden.

 

*

STARRY NIGHT ABOVE THE ROMAN GHETTO

Drama – (Italy), 2021, 100 mins., Italian w/ English subtitles

 

The modern-day discovery of a letter and a photograph sparks Sofia, a student, to probe the history of Rome’s Jewish ghetto and the fate of a little girl in this Italian drama interlacing past and present.

 

MY DEAREST ENEMY

Drama – (Israel), 2019, 100 mins.,  Hebrew & Arabic, w/ English subtitles

 

A friendship between Alice, a Muslim woman, and Maya, a Jewish woman, becomes impossible when Alice’s old lover returns to her life, bringing with him the reality of the conflict between their people.

 

*

THE NEW JEW (Part 1 & 2)

Documentary – (Israel), 2021, 2 45-min. episodes, Hebrew & English w/ English subtitles

 

This episodic documentary about “new” Jews presented by Guri Alfi, Israel’s popular comedian, will likely enlighten, entertain and annoy viewers in different ways, but it presents a varied and interesting portrait of American-Jewish life.

 

1618

Historical Drama – (Portugal), 90 min., Portuguese w/ English subtitles

 

1618 is based on a true story: the visitation of the Inquisition to the city of Oporto, Portugal in 1618. At the time, the entire population was ordered to denounce heresies under pain of excommunication. In a city where a large part of the population had Jewish ancestry, over one hundred New Christians were imprisoned, causing terror in the community, mass emigration and the near total destruction of the city’s economy. With his family and community in danger, António Álvares decides to outline an escape plan while the Inquisition continues the persecution of Portuguese Jews.

 

*

THE ADVENTURES OF SAUL BELLOW

Biopic – (USA & Israel), 2021, 85 mins., English

 

This film examines one of America’s greatest writers Saul Bellow’s influence on American literature, explores Bellow as a public figure, and looks at how he dealt with key issues of his time, including race, gender, and the Jewish-American immigrant experience.

 

*

ANTISEMITISM

Documentary – (France/Canada/Israel), 2020, 121 mins., French w/ English subtitles

 

This substantive film traces the origins of antisemitism in France from the Middle Ages to the Dreyfus Affair. Combining personal and collective narratives, Antisemitism showcases how the depiction of “the Jew” in society established an ideology of hate that eventually led to the Holocaust and the current wave of anti-Jewish sentiment.

 

*

BETRAYED

Historical Thriller – (Norway), 2020, 126 mins., Norwegian w/ English subtitles

 

This true story illustrates how the Holocaust wasn’t just perpetrated by the Nazis, but by hundreds of willing collaborators and citizens, by shining a light on Norway’s relatively unknown dark past. The film follows the Jewish Braude family’s experiences when they are arrested and deported.

 

*

THE GOOD TRAITOR

Historical Drama – (Denmark), 115 mins., Italian w/ English subtitles

 

The Good Traitor is a period drama centering on the life of diplomat Henrik Kauffmann, who was the Danish ambassador posted to Washington in 1939. When World War II started and the Nazi’s occupied Denmark on April 9th, 1940, Kauffmann declared himself to be the only true representative of the free Danish people in opposition to the Nazis.

 

*

LANSKY

Biopic – (USA), 2021, 119 mins., English

 

When aging gangster Meyer Lansky (played by Harvey Keitel) is investigated one last time by the Feds, who suspect he has stashed away millions of dollars, Lansky spins a dizzying tale, revealing the untold truth about his life as the notorious boss of Murder Inc. and the National Crime Syndicate.

 

*

LOVE & MAZEL TOV

Romantic Comedy – (Germany), 2020, 88 mins., German w/ English subtitles

 

A warm-hearted love story, Love and Mazel Tov follows the romance between Anne, a Jewish bookstore owner, and Daniel, who pretends to be Jewish to attract her. After becoming a couple, their friends have an inkling that his web of lies will be discovered. How will Anne feel when she finds out he isn’t Jewish after all?

 

*

SHALOM TAIWAN

Comedy – (Argentina), 2019, 85 mins., Spanish, English & Taiwanese w/ English subtitles

 

The severe financial problems of a Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires forces its enterprising rabbi to embark on a humorous and heartwarming journey to the Far East on a quest to secure donations.

 

*

STILL A REVOLUTIONARY: ALBERT EINSTEIN

Documentary – (USA), 2020, 80 mins., English

 

Albert Einstein was a world-renowned celebrity and greeted like a rock star. He was also an outspoken social and political activist on issues ranging from women’s rights and racism to immigration and nuclear arms control. Using rarely-seen archival footage and illuminating interviews, this documentary goes beyond the legend to tell the true story of the famous savant.

 

*

THE PIANIST FROM RAMALLAH

Documentary – (Israel), 2020, 60 mins., Arabic and Russian w/ English subtitles

 

Based on a true story, Muhammad “Misha” Alsheikh is a 16-year old pianist with extraordinary talent and capable of overcoming seemingly insurmountable barriers. The son of a Palestinian father and Russian mother, he works with an Israeli-Jewish teacher in his quest to fulfill his dreams.

 

*

TANGO SHALOM

Comedy – (USA), 2021, 115 mins., English

 

A tango dancer asks a rabbi to enter a dance competition, but there’s one big problem — he’s not allowed to touch her due to his Orthodox beliefs. However, since the prize money will save his school from bankruptcy, they work together to develop a plan to enter the competition without sacrificing his faith.

 

*

WE WERE THE OTHERS

Documentary – (Israel), 2019, 54 mins., Hebrew with English subtitles

 

We Were the Others tells the story of six gay men that were born in the days of the establishment of the State of Israel. Their stories serve as the film’s background for the depiction of the clandestine and undocumented lives of homosexuals in Israel during the 1960-70s when homosexuality was considered illegal and a mental illness.

 

*

LOVE IT WAS NOT

Holocaust Documentary – (Israel), 2020, 83 mins., Hebrew, German and English with English subtitles

 

The impossible and tragic love story between Helena Citron, a young Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz, and the Austrian SS officer Franz Wunsch. Thirty years later, a letter arrives from his wife, forcing Helena to make an impossible decision.

 

*

NEIGHBOURS

(Closing Film)

Drama – (Switzerland), 2021, 124 mins., Kurdish, Arabic & Hebrew w/ English subtitles

 

With a fine sense of humor and satire, a six-year old Kurdish boy, Sero, experiences his first year in an Arab school in a little village on the Syrian-Turkish border. Set in the early 1980s, Sero loves his family as well as his Jewish neighbors, but his little world is about to be radically changed by absurd nationalism.

 

 

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