A Feast of a Festival – a look at JIFF 2015

October 13, 2015 by Roz Tarszisz
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A rich line-up of features, documentaries and special events are lined up for the 2015 Jewish International Film Festival.

Closer to the Moon

Closer to the Moon

With films in English, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Spanish and Yiddish, there are variety of stories to experience and documentaries covering a wide range of topics.

A desperate father in Auschwitz (Son of Saul) tries to find a Rabbi to bury his son, an unlikely friendship between a baker and a refugee from Darfur (Dough and a look at immigrant African labour in Israel (Manpower), are just a few of the 60 films on offer.

Einstein the the Holy Land

Einstein in the Holy Land

A Tale of Love and Darkness is set in 1945. In this directorial debut from Natalie Portman, a young Amos Oz is living in Jerusalem with his parents. It is a difficult time for both the nation and for Oz, whose mother has put the weight of all her hopes and dreams upon him.

Intense and gripping Israeli TV thriller series – Fauda –  will be screened over four sessions. Biopic Tuviansky examines a chapter in Israel’s history. In June 1948, Captain Meir Tuviansky, an Israeli officer formerly in the British army, was accused of treason. Over four hours, he would be interrogated, court-martialled and sentenced to death.

Documentaries cover an unexpected sporting triumph (77:78 On the Map) and an ultra-Orthodox director looks at the biblical injunction against masturbation (Sacred Sperm). Very Semi -Serious drops in on the quirky world of New Yorker cartoonists while Yitzhak Rabin: A Soldier of Peace examines the life of a courageous man who understood the true cost of conflict, and was determined to avoid it at all costs.

Pockets of Hope

Pockets of Hope

Sperm is also the subject of another documentary, Seed of Life. Only hours after her son Keivan dies in battle, a woman realises that she can still give him a future. His sperm is harvested and frozen, and she sets about finding a woman to carry her grandchildren. Now, 11 years after his death, Keivan is about to become a father.

In Pockets of Hope, Australian singer and activist Fay Sussman had vowed never to return to Poland. Overcoming her fear and anger, Sussman finally visited the country. She discovered a generation of Poles working to establish a new relationship with the Jewish community and that through her music, she can restore her connection to Poland.

On the Banks of the Tigris: The Hidden Story of Iraqi Music, director Marsha Emerman brings a story from Melbourne.  Majid is an Iraqi-Australian from a Muslim background who is determined to find the source of the music



he grew up with. When he discovers the Jewish influence in Iraqi music and its subsequent whitewashing from history, it takes him on a journey from Australia to Israel, Europe and Iraq to meet musicians of all faiths and unite them in a concert for peace and reconciliation.

In Twilight of a Life director Sylvain Biegeleisen films his mother, who, at 95, has been given only weeks to live. But she’s not giving up easily: an eternal optimist, she refuses to accept the result, and “decides” to hang around for a while longer. Sylvain visits her every day, and she spends those visits imparting her wealth of knowledge and inspirational teachings on life.

From the delights of deli food to destruction and chaos, the profound to the profane, the festival covers topics to engage the mind, spirt and heart.

The JIFF runs in Sydney from 28 October-18 November, Melbourne 4-29 November, Perth 31 October, 1 & 8 November; Auckland 14, 15 and 22 November; Brisbane 21, 22 and 29 November.








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