Houston Jewish Film Festival 2017

Arts and Entertainment

January 28, 2017

From: Houston Jewish Film Festival

The Houston Jewish Film Festival proudly continues its tradition of presenting an entertaining, thought-provoking and high-quality line-up comprised of the best Jewish and Israeli films from across the world.

This year's festival will provide you with your pick of documentaries, dramas, comedies, and musicals.

Schedule of Films:

Monday, February 27, 2017

Sneak Preview Night

Join us for a Sneak Preview Night the week before the Festival opens to get a taste of what's to come!

7:30 PM - Fever At Dawn

Directed by Peter Gardos
Hungary/Israel/Sweden, 2015, 110 min
Hungarian with English subtitles
Houston Premiere
Drama

In 1945, Holocaust survivor Miklos Gardos, was diagnosed with tuberculosis, sent to a Swedish hospital, and given six months to live. Determined to find love, Miklos wrote letters to 117 recovering Hungarian survivors and found the woman of his dreams.

Despite illness, hardships, and betrayals, the two married and had a son, film director Peter Gardos. His parents never spoke of their turbulent past.

After Miklos' death, his mother gave him the packets of letters the two had exchanged which form the basis of this moving film.

Cost: $6 Per Person

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC

Sunday, March 5, 2017

2:00 PM - On the Map

Directed by Dani Menkin
Israel, 2016, 85 min
English, Hebrew with English subtitles
Houston Premiere
Documentary

This is the story of Israel's 1977 basketball team the first team to bring the European Cup to Israel, just after the Yom Kippur War and the Munich Olympics. When this ragtag team of Israelis and Americans won, Israel was placed firmly on the map.

With incredible footage of 1970s Israel, the film features interviews with Bill Walton, David Stern, Tal Brody and the other athletes. Told through the eyes of six American basketball players who joined Maccabi, On the Map honors Israeli heroes and mesmerizes fans of the game.

FREE with a canned good

Location: Premiere Cinema 11 Galveston

2:00 PM - Family Screening with Shabbatify: Guavas

Directed by Kobi Machat
Israel, 2015, 80 min
Hebrew with English subtitles
Houston Premiere
Children
For Families with Children Ages 6 and Older
Open to the Public

Billie and her parents have moved to an apartment house in a new town. Billie's new home is populated by a group of most peculiar types, human, animal, and puppets: Pertchik, a puppet and building superintendent, Giovanni and Yardus, the hairdresser and his assistant, and Shlihta, the dog.

Outside is a guava tree containing a treehouse and a hammock that the mayor's assistant threatens to cut down. Billie is called to action and leads the social protest movement to save the tree.

Cost: $10 Family Ticket

7:30 PM - Opening Night - Harmonia

Directed by Ori Sivan
Israel, 2016, 98 min
Hebrew/Arabic with English subtitles
Houston Premiere
Drama

A contemporary adaptation of the biblical tale of Abraham (Alon Aboutboul), Sarah, and Hagar, set in the world of the Jerusalem Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor Abraham and his wife Sarah, the orchestra's harpist, cannot have children. Hagar, a beautiful, young horn player from East Jerusalem, offers to have a baby with Abraham for the couple.

But the child grows estranged from Sarah. Through this ancient story, Harmonia presents a poignant metaphor to the struggle between the rival sibling religions that inhabit Jerusalem.

For Opening Night only: all tickets are reserved seating. Buy your ticket early to ensure seats.

Cost: $12 Member, $18 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC

Monday, March 6, 2017

5:00 PM - Moos

Directed by Job Gosschalk
Netherlands, 2016, 91 min
Dutch with English subtitles
Houston Premiere
Comedy 

Twenty-something Moos works with her widowed father in his draper's shop in this quirky romantic comedy.

It's Erev Chanukah, and the extended family gathers to celebrate the holiday; her uncle begins the dinner by praising each person at the table for his or her accomplishments except for Moos who, despite her desire to go to acting school, has put her life on hold to care for her father. Then in walks Sam, her best buddy from childhood, returned from living in Israel.

Cost: $6 Per Person

7:30 PM - Short Film Night

An Old Score
Directed by Naor Meningher
Israel, 2016, 21 min

A Holocaust survivor sees Ingster, who had been a symphony conductor, in an Israeli supermarket.

She is certain he is the vicious kapo who murdered her mother. But is he?

The Little Dictator
Directed by Nurith Cohn
Israel, 2015, 29 min

A dull history professor and expert on totalitarian regimes, feels unappreciated by his students and domineering wife.

At the 90th birthday party of his wife's grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, he finds himself in a surreal situation in this absurdist comedy.

Incognito
Directed by Jeremiah Quinn
UK, 2014, 11 min

Buenos Aires, 1960. Two men meet for coffee. When they speak, which is seldom, it is in a code only they understand.

Neither man likes his companion but they apparently have a shared history. Their identities?

An Average Story
Directed by Yaniv Segalovich
Israel, 2015, 17 min

In this wry comedy, Avi is a national celebrity; he's the most average man in Israel. His wife is ecstatic and seeks to monetize his new-found fame.

Cost: $9 Member, $14 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

5:00 PM - Aka Nadia

Directed by Tova Ascher
Israel/UK, 2016, 115 min
Hebrew with English subtitles
Houston Premiere
Drama

Nadia leaves her East Jerusalem home, marries her PLO boyfriend and goes to live with him in London knowing she can never return home. He's arrested; she establishes a hidden life.

Finally, using papers identifying her as a Jewish woman, she returns to West Jerusalem. She marries a Jewish man, has children and enjoys a successful career when the past catches up with her. The film raises questions about identity, the consequences of past actions, the ability to accept the "other" and forgiveness.

Cost: $6 Per Person

7:30 PM - On the Map

Directed by Dani Menkin
Israel, 2016, 85 min
English, Hebrew with English subtitles
Houston Premiere
Documentary

This is the story of Israel's 1977 basketball team the first team to bring the European Cup to Israel, just after the Yom Kippur War and the Munich Olympics.

When this ragtag team of Israelis and Americans won, Israel was placed firmly on the map. With incredible footage of 1970s Israel, the film features interviews with Bill Walton, David Stern, Tal Brody and the other athletes.

Told through the eyes of six American basketball players who joined Maccabi, On the Map honors Israeli heroes and mesmerizes fans of the game.

Cost: $9 Member, $14 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

5:00 PM - Vice Versa

Directed by Amichai Greenberg
Israel, 2015, 62 min
Hebrew with English subtitles
Houston Premiere
Drama

Can we go back in time and fix the present? How do we repent?

Maimonides says there are four actions necessary for repentance: discard the sin, repent, confess, and commit not to do the sin again.

Yohai is a Yeshiva student rabbi charged with counseling Ayelet, an 18-year-old dying of cancer. The two enter into a relationship unsanctioned by the Yeshiva and Ayelet's family. But who must repent in this love story that moves beyond the expectations of family, faith and society?

Cost: $6 Per Person

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC

7:00 PM - An Evening with Howard Rosenman

Hollywood Film Producer, Howard Rosenman shares stories from his career and how Judaism has impacted his journey.

Rosenman produced Father of the Bride, The Family Man, and Brave Miss World (HJFF 2014). Rosenman's films have won two Peabody Awards, an Academy Award and top honors at the Sundance, Berlin and Cannes Film Festivals.

Born in Brooklyn, NY and raised on Long Island, Howard is the son of seventh generation Israelis from Jerusalem. In 1967, he took a leave from medical school to serve as an extern medic in the Six Day War as a part of the Israeli Defense Forces.

Cost: $9 Member, $14 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC

Thursday, March 9, 2017

5:00 PM - The Essential Link: The Story of Wilfrid Israel

Directed by Yonatan Nir
Israel, 2016, 82 min
Hebrew, English, German with English subtitles
Houston Premiere
Documentary

He was friends with Albert Einstein and Mahatma Ghandi. He was wealthy, having inherited the most prominent department store in Berlin. Until recently, he was an enigma and largely forgotten.

Now we know he inspired the Kindertransport, financed a children's settlement in Palestine, provided safe passage for Jewish refugees, and helped his 700 Jewish employees emigrate.

The filmmaker takes us on an adventure as he searches for the mysterious hero, and for the reasons he disappeared from history.

Cost: $6 Per Person

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC

7:30 PM - One Week and a Day (Shavua Ve Yom)

Directed by Asaph Polonsky
Israel, 2016, 93 min
Hebrew with English subtitles
Houston Premiere
Comedy

This film, which had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, is a comedy about the way a couple copes with the death of their son.

When Eyal and his wife finish the week of shiva for their son, he enlists his young neighbor to join him in smoking his son's medical marijuana. This stoned, odd duo sets out into the world, and Eyal begins to see the things in his life still worth living for.

A nuanced perspective on loss that is humorous, touching, and above all else, life-affirming. The film won five awards at the Jerusalem Film Festival, including Best Israeli Feature.

Cost: $9 Member, $14 Public

Location: Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston

Friday, March 10, 2017

1:00 PM - On the Map

Directed by Dani Menkin
Israel, 2016, 85 min
English, Hebrew with English subtitles
Houston Premiere
Documentary

This is the story of Israel's 1977 basketball team the first team to bring the European Cup to Israel, just after the Yom Kippur War and the Munich Olympics.

When this ragtag team of Israelis and Americans won, Israel was placed firmly on the map. With incredible footage of 1970s Israel, the film features interviews with Bill Walton, David Stern, Tal Brody and the other athletes.

Told through the eyes of six American basketball players who joined Maccabi, On the Map honors Israeli heroes and mesmerizes fans of the game.

Shabbat Lunch and a Movie for Adults 60+
Shabbat Lunch: 12:00 PM
Film Screening: 1:00 PM

Cost: $9 Member, $14 Public, Price includes film and lunch

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC

Saturday, March 11, 2017

6:00 PM - Beyond the Mountains and Hills (Me'ever Laharim Vehagvaot)

Directed by Eran Kolirin
Belgium/Germany/Israel, 2016, 92 min
Hebrew with English subtitles
Houston Premiere
Drama

The Greenbaums are a seemingly normal family: the father, retired after 27 years in the Israeli army; the mother, a high school teacher; the daughter, a rebellious teenager whose anti-military protests put her in dangerous territory; and the son, seemingly a normal teenage boy until a crisis hits.

Slowly, their lives begin to unravel out of frustration, mid-life crises, teenage angst, and disillusionment. "We're good people, aren't we?" the father inquires. But are they?

Cost: $8 Member, $10 Public

8:00 PM - Past Life

Directed by Avi Nesher
Israel/Poland, 2016, 110 min
Hebrew, English, German,
Polish with English subtitles
Houston Premiere
Thriller

Based on the wartime diaries of Holocaust survivor Dr. Baruch Milch, his daughters Sephi and Nana, the former a classical composer and the latter an investigative journalist, attempt to investigate the mystery of their father's wartime experiences in Poland.

Sephi's life intersects with that of German composer and conductor Thomas Zielinski, who also comes from a family of unrevealed secrets and whose mother believes Dr. Milch is a murderer. Haunting and suspenseful, Past Life is directed by Avi Nesher (The Wonders, HJFF 2014).

Cost: $8 Member, $10 Public

Location: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Sunday, March 12, 2017

1:00 PM - Fanny's Journey  (Le Voyage de Fanny)

Directed by Lola Doillon
France/Belgium, 2016, 94 min
French with English subtitles
Houston Premiere
Drama

Inspired by the memoir of Fanny Ben-Ami, the film follows a group of children led by twelve-year-old Fanny across Occupied France during WWII.

Pursued by Nazis and their allies in Vichy France, betrayed by a French priest and a fellow traveler, protected by a group trying to save Jewish children, and transported by a smuggler, they attempt to make their way alone to neutral Switzerland in this harrowing, beautifully filmed portrayal of their journey.

Cost: $8 Member, $10 Public

3:00 PM - Presenting Princess Shaw

Directed by Ido Haar
Israel, 2015, 80 min
English
Documentary

This uplifting documentary celebrates the unlikely musical connection between New Orleans-based singer Samantha Montgomery and Israeli composer and multimedia artist Kutiman. Samantha writes and sings her own songs as Princess Shaw, posting them on her YouTube channel.

Kutiman discovers her talent, and two strangers, 7,000 miles apart, begin to collaborate. The film climaxes with an exhilarating performance in Israel where Princess Shaw's emotional performances are showcased in a beautiful expression of generosity and compassion, revealing her fight to never give up on her dreams.

Cost: $8 Member, $10 Public

Location: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

5:00 PM - For the Love of Spock

Directed by Adam Nimoy
USA, 2016, 105 min
English
Documentary

Prior to becoming Mr. Spock in the Star Trek series, Leonard Nimoy had a variety of jobs: fish tank servicer, apartment building manager, and ice-cream parlor proprietor. His acting jobs never lasted for more than two weeks.

In this documentary tribute to his father, Leonard's son Adam has created a film that not only examines his father's character as Spock, but also his entire life.

Dress up as your favorite Star Trek character for free admission.

Cost: $9 Member, $14 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC

7:30 PM - Our Father

Directed by Meni Yaesh
Israel, 2016, 105 min
Hebrew with English subtitles
Houston Premiere
Drama with extreme violence

Ovadia (Moris Cohen), a nightclub bouncer, and his wife Rachel have been trying for a child for five years. Frustrated and close to giving up, Ovadia is offered a lucrative job as a debt collector, working for a dangerous local gangster.

With the money he earns, the couple can afford expensive fertility treatment but the extremely violent nature of Ovadia's job starts to take its toll. He soon learns the way out is going to be longer and bloodier than he expected.

Our Father offers a gritty, uncompromising view of Israeli life today in this moral drama. Moris Cohen's electrifying performance won the Israeli Oscar for Best Actor.

Cost: $9 Member, $14 Public

Location: Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston

Monday, March 13, 2017

7:30 PM - The Women's Balcony

6:30 PM - Dinner

Directed by Emil Ben Shimon
Israel, 2016, 96 min
Hebrew with English subtitles
Houston Premiere
Drama

A warm, cohesive congregation of Sephardic Jews suffers an accident during a bar mitzvah: the women's balcony collapses, the rebbetzin is injured, and the beloved rabbi can't cope.

Enter Rabbi David, a religious fundamentalist who offers to help the congregation. But there is a price for his help. The men are captivated; however, the women are enraged and take matters into their own hands. Ultimately congregational peace is restored.

A rousing, good-humored tale of women speaking truth to power, The Women's Balcony is at once rebellious and respectful in spirit.

Cost: $9 Member, $14 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

5:00 PM & 7:30 PM: The People Vs. Fritz Bauer (Der Staat Gegen Fritz Bauer)

Directed by Lars Kraume
Germany, 2015, 105 min
English, German, Yiddish with English subtitles
Houston Premiere
Thriller

In 1957 Fritz Bauer, a German-Jewish prosecutor of former Nazis in the newly democratic German government, is presented with information regarding the whereabouts of Adolph Eichmann.

He cannot bring the information to Interpol or German officialdom for fear of alerting Eichmann. At the risk of being charged for treason, Bauer contacts the Mossad.

The film, a biopic which has been compared to Spielberg's Bridge of Spies, earned Germany's top prizes for best film, director, screenplay, supporting actor, and set design.

Cost: $8 Member, $10 Public

Location: Holocaust Museum Houston

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

7:00 PM - Chair's Choice

At the Circus
Directed by Edward Buzzell
USA, 1939, 87 min
English
Comedy

At the Circus, the ninth Marx Brothers film, was produced by MGM studios in 1939. J. Cheever Loophole (Groucho), Tony (Chico) and Punchy (Harpo) save a circus from bankruptcy. The film includes Groucho's classic rendition of "Lydia the Tattooed Lady." The climax of the film is the Marx Brothers' finest.

Film Daily wrote, "The mad Marxmen have never been funnier, nor have they had a better story in which to cavort." Supporting cast members include the unflappable Margaret Dumont and Eve Arden.

Duck Soup
Directed by Leo McCarey
USA, 1933, 70 min
English
Comedy

Duck Soup, the fifth Marx Brothers film, is ranked as the fifth greatest comedy of all time by the American Film Institute. It is now widely considered among critics to be a masterpiece of comedy and the Marx Brothers' finest film.

Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) as the Leader of Freedonia, enlists the help of Chicilini (Chico) and Pinky (Harpo) to declare war over Sylvania in hopes of winning the love of wealthy Mrs. Teasdale, played by Margaret Dumont.

Cost: $9 Member, $14 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC

7:30 PM - Putzel

Directed by Jason Chaet
USA, 2012, 88 min
English
Comedy

For a young man, endearingly known as Putzel, life literally doesn't go beyond his family's fish store and his community on the upper west side of Manhattan.

In this heartwarming comedy, Walter's aspirations of taking over his uncle's shop are disrupted by the arrival of Sally (Melanie Lynskey, Two and a Half Men), who becomes romantically involved with his uncle.

While Walter tries to thwart their romance in order to ensure his taking over the business, he finally starts to realize his full potential.

Cost: $10 Per Person

Location: Landmark's River Oaks Theatre

Thursday, March 16, 2017

5:00 PM - Harmonia

Directed by Ori Sivan
Israel, 2016, 98 min
Hebrew/Arabic with English subtitles
Houston Premiere
Drama

A contemporary adaptation of the biblical tale of Abraham (Alon Aboutboul), Sarah, and Hagar, set in the world of the Jerusalem Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor Abraham and his wife Sarah, the orchestra's harpist, cannot have children. Hagar, a beautiful, young horn player from East Jerusalem, offers to have a baby with Abraham for the couple.

But the child grows estranged from Sarah. Through this ancient story, Harmonia presents a poignant metaphor to the struggle between the rival sibling religions that inhabit Jerusalem.

Cost: $6 Per Person

7:30 PM - The Settlers

Directed by Shimon Dotan
France/Canada/Israel, 2016, 106 min
English, Hebrew, Arabic with English subtitles
Documentary

This is a comprehensive view of the Jewish settlers in the West Bank. The Settlers provides a historical overview, a geopolitical study and an intimate look at those people at the core of the most daunting challenges facing Israel and the international community today.

Settlers cannot be divided into categories. Some are living in the West Bank because the real estate prices are cheap, some for religious reasons, and some for no particular religious or ideological purpose.

And so the question remains: What is a settler?

Cost: $9 Member, $14 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC

Saturday, March 18, 2017

6:30 PM - Vice Versa

Directed by Amichai Greenberg
Israel, 2015, 62 min
Hebrew with English subtitles
Houston Premiere
Drama

Can we go back in time and fix the present? How do we repent? Maimonides says there are four actions necessary for repentance: discard the sin, repent, confess, and commit not to do the sin again.

Yohai is a Yeshiva student rabbi charged with counseling Ayelet, an 18-year-old dying of cancer. The two enter into a relationship unsanctioned by the Yeshiva and Ayelet's family. But who must repent in this love story that moves beyond the expectations of family, faith and society?

Cost: $10 Member, $15 Public

8:40 PM - A Grain of Truth

Directed by Borys Lankosz
Poland, 2015, 112 min
English, Polish with English subtitles
Houston Premiere
Thriller

Based on a Polish crime thriller of the same name, Teodor Szacki, a washed up prosecutor of the film noir variety, is charged with investigating gruesome
murders suggesting Jewish ritual slaughter of animals.

Seen as an outsider by the close-knit community, he faces suspicion when called in to investigate the brutal murder of a well-known social activist, her body discovered outside a former synagogue. The trail of victims grows, the killer remains elusive, and clues point to a mysterious connection with historical myths of blood libel.

Cost: $10 Member, $15 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC

Sunday, March 19, 2017

1:00 PM - Weiner

Directed by Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg
USA, 2016, 100 min
English
Documentary

It's 2013 and Anthony Weiner still reeling from the sex scandal that ended his political career two years earlier is back in the spotlight as
he mounts an audacious comeback campaign for New York City mayor.

But it's not long before history repeats itself. New sexting allegations leave Weiner and his aides scrambling to contain the damage.

Granted unfettered access to the candidate and his campaign, filmmakers Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg capture a jaw-dropping, behind-the-scenes look at the political machine as it breaks down. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at Sundance Film Festival.

Cost: $9 Member, $14 Public

7:30 PM - Closing Night - Mr. Predictable

Directed by Roee Florentin
Israel, 2016, 103 min
Hebrew with English subtitles
Comedy

Before he went to fight in Lebanon, Adi's father made five-year-old Adi promise to be a good, responsible boy. Adi helped his family, friends, military buddies, and wife, and they all exploited him.

His life changes, however, when Adi is misdiagnosed as having terminal cancer and literally runs into his polar opposite, an uninhibited dog walker named Natalia. While an inauspicious beginning for a relationship, Adi sees the world through her eyes and chooses a new direction for his life.

Cost: $9 Member, $14 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC

4:00 PM - Life, Animated

Directed by Roger Ross Williams
Denmark, 2016, 89 min
English
Documentary

Based on Ron Suskind's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, this documentary follows Owen Suskind from age three, when he is diagnosed with autism, to age 23, when he learns to live on his own. At three, Owen stops speaking.

His joy is watching Disney films and it is through them that he begins to reconnect with the world. Through home movies, film clips, and scenes with Owen's family and therapists, we watch as Owen progresses from his silent world to become a spokesperson for autistic individuals. Life, Animated has been nominated for an Oscar in Best Documentary Feature.

Cost: $10 Per Person

Location: The Emery/Weiner School

Fest Date: March 5 - 19, 2017

Locations:
Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center (JCC), 5601 S. Braeswood
Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH), 1001 Bissonnet St.
Holocaust Museum Houston (HMH), 5401 Caroline St
Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston (MATCH), 3400 Main Street
Premiere Cinema 11 Galveston (GAL), 8902 Seawall Blvd
The Emery/Weiner School (EWS),9825 Stella Link Road
River Oaks Theatre (ROT), 2009 W Gray St

For More Information - http://www.erjcchouston.org/arts/jewish-film-festival/