Houston Jewish Film Festival 2018

Arts and Entertainment

February 6, 2018

From: Houston Jewish Film Festival

Celebrating 14 Years of the Best Jewish and Israeli Films

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.

Festival Schedule:

Saturday, March 3, 2018

05:00 pm to 07:00 pm: A Short with Shabbatify: Across the Line

Join other parents of elementary-age kids for a fun-filled Shabbat afternoon. Kids will jump and tumble in gymnastics while parents enjoy a short film and discussion. We will reunite as a family to enjoy some snacks and Havdalah under the stars.

Hananel, an Israeli Jewish settler, is hurrying home for Shabbat. An unexpected encounter with Mundir, a troubled Palestinian hitchhiker, leads them both on a series of adventures that eventually teach them a surprising lesson in communication, friendship, and love.

Cost: This is a free event!

08:00 pm to 10:00 pm: Opening Night: Shelter

What happens when two women are trapped in a safe house where nothing is safe and no one is trusted? From the acclaimed director of The Lemon Tree (HJFF 2009) and A Borrowed Identity (HJFF 2015), Shelter tells the story of a female Mossad agent protecting a female Lebanese informant in a safe house in Hamburg.

An intimacy develops between the two women and their relationship is exposed to the threat of terror. In this dance of deception, beliefs are questioned and choices are made. Their fate takes a surprising turn in this suspense-laden, elegant neo-noir.

Cost: $12 Member | $18 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC Houston

Sunday, March 4, 2018

01:00 pm to 03:00 pm: Menashe

Menashe, an ultra-orthodox Jew, widower, father of a young son, and bungling grocery store clerk fights to retain custody of his son Rieven. Menashe’s rabbi, in accordance with the practices of the community, thinks children should not be raised without a mother and urges Menashe to remarry. Menashe, however, is averse to taking a new bride.

The rabbi awards custody of Rieven to Menashe’s strict, self-righteous brother-in-law. Father and son are drawn to each other in this touching portrait of a man tethered by the mores of his world.

Cost: $9 Member | $14 Public

04:00 pm to 06:00 pm: Norman

Norman is a “macher,” a fixer, a huckster, a striver and a dreamer in the best Jewish literary tradition. He is ingratiating and irritating; he has lots of close friends in New York and Tel Aviv; he’d be happy to make an introduction.

Eventually, Norman meets an Israeli politician in New York. When the politician is elected Prime Minister, Norman, craving recognition more than anything else, wonders if the new prime minister will remember him. Richard Gere heads the stellar cast.

Cost: $9 Member | $14 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC Houston

07:30 pm to 09:30 pm: Scaffolding

Winner of best feature film at the Jerusalem Film Festival, Scaffolding demonstrates how a compassionate teacher affects the life of an impulsive and semi-literate 17-year-old. Asher, placed in his high school’s remedial class, has no interest in either books or study. He works for his sometimes loving, often abusive father in a scaffolding business.

Directed by Matan Yair, himself a former teacher, and starring Asher Lax, Yair’s real former student as the defiant lead, the film examines some of the grittier sides of Israeli life.

Cost: $9 Member | $14 Public

Location: Midtown Arts & Theatre Center Houston

Monday, March 5, 2018

07:30 pm to 09:30 pm: Itzhak

Itzhak presents the extraordinary story of the life and music of Itzhak Perlman, widely considered one of the greatest living violinists. This revealing documentary explores the ways in which Perlman’s passion for music allowed him to find a platform for personal expression despite challenging circumstances.

Through Itzhak Perlman, we’re able to see an artist at work, a modern Jewish family embracing its heritage and how the legacy of both the Jewish people and the violin are knitted together in one remarkable human being.

Cost: $18 Member | $27 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC Houston

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

06:00 pm to 08:00 pm: The Children of Chance

A broken leg is a blessing in disguise for Maurice Gutman, a young Jewish boy who is taken away by ambulance just as the French police are rounding up the Jews of Paris. The fracture reveals tuberculosis, and Maurice is sheltered in a children’s hospital ward in the French countryside.

As the war intensifies, the chief physician and senior nurse resort to surreptitious measures to insure the safety of Maurice and the other Jewish patients. Based on a true story, this tender coming-of-age drama is a testament to the resilience and bravery of youth.

Cost: $8 Member | $10 Public

Location: Holocaust Museum Houston

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

06:00 pm to 08:00 pm: Let Yourself Go

Elia, an out of shape Jewish psychoanalyst, lives next door to his wife from whom he is separated. Separated or not, she still does Elia’s laundry. Elia’s doctor tells him he needs to get in shape; he joins a gym where he meets Claudia, a wacky personal trainer who attracts attention…and chaos.

Let Yourself Go follows the adventures of the two, Elia’s wife and her boyfriend, Claudia’s  uncontrollable son and her psycho prisoner boyfriend in this screwball Italian comedy.

Cost: $6

08:00 pm to 10:00 pm: An Act of Defiance

1963, South Africa. Ten men – some black, some Jewish – are arrested for conspiring to commit sabotage against the Apartheid state and its government. Led by fellow defendant Nelson Mandela and represented by courageous lawyer Bram Fischer, the group members plead not guilty and shift the attention instead to the corrupt and unjust political system.

This powerful and captivating true story captures a seminal moment in the fight against racism and explores the role of South African Jews in consigning Apartheid to history.

Cost: $9 Member | $14 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC Houston

Thursday, March 8, 2018

07:30 pm to 09:30 pm: Women's Night: The Wedding Plan

Michal, 32, is blindsided by her fiancé’s decision to call off their wedding with only a month’s notice. Unwilling to return to lonely single life, Michal puts her trust in fate and the Almighty and continues with her wedding plans, believing Mr. Right will appear by her chosen date.

She enlists the help of two matchmakers as her skeptical mother and sister look on with trepidation. Trailblazing writer-director Rama Burshtein (Fill the Void) returns to the cloistered Orthodox community she knows intimately with this poignant comedy.

Cost: $9 Member | $14 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC Houston

Friday, March 9, 2018

01:00 pm to 03:00 pm: Humor Me

This heartfelt father-son comedy follows a struggling playwright who is forced to move in with his joke-telling dad in a New Jersey retirement community. He learns, as his father often says, “life’s going to happen, whether you smile or not.”

Featuring Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Concords), Elliott Gould (Ocean’s Eleven), and Maria Dizzia (Orange is the New Black), Humor Me is Sam Hoffman’s directorial debut. The film is inspired by his website Old Jews Telling Jokes, which also sparked an off-Broadway play, a bestselling book (JBAF 2010) and a lecture series.

Cost: $9 Member | $14 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC Houston

Saturday, March 10, 2018

07:30 pm to 09:30 pm: Sammy Davis Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me

Sammy Davis, Jr. (1925-1990) was a multi-talented performer who didn’t shy away from controversy. A uniquely gifted entertainer, his first screen role was at the age of 7. After serving in the Army in World War II, his career took off. He famously became a member of the Rat Pack in the 1950s, and was the most public black person of his era to convert to Judaism.

Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Sam Pollard combines interviews, memorable performances and plentiful commentary from Sammy himself to create a fascinating portrait of a complex man.

Cost: $8 Member | $10 Public

Location: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Sunday, March 11, 2018

11:00 am to 01:00 pm: The Last Band in Lebanon

A massive box-office hit in Israel, this laugh-out-loud army-buddy movie combines screwball comedy, romance and music. Three bumbling Israeli reserve soldiers, who are members of a military rock band, try to find their way to safety after getting left behind enemy lines in Hezbollah territory.

For Shlomi, Assaf, and Kobi, their treacherous journey demands banding together and setting aside their own complicated history to make it home. Set against the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, the action—and bullets—fly fast and furious.

Cost: $9 Member | $14 Public

02:00 pm to 04:00 pm: Riphagen

As a Nazi collaborator and con artist, Dries Riphagen was tasked with tracking down Jews in hiding and confiscating their valuables. Using blackmail to extort small fortunes in jewels, property and currency, Riphagen would later betray the location of Jewish families and turn them over to the Germans.

Only Jan van Liempd, a young policeman secretly aligned with the Resistance, sees through the scheme. Van Liempd’s determination to bring the war criminal to justice develops into a deadly cat-and-mouse game.

Cost: $9 Member | $14 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC Houston

05:00 pm to 07:00 pm: Shalom Bollywood

This documentary reveals the role of India’s Jewish community in establishing the world’s largest film industry. In the early 20th century it was taboo for Hindu and Islamic women to perform on screen: female roles were portrayed by Jews.

Richly illustrated with lively excerpts tracing the development of Indian cinema, the film profiles silent era star Sulochana (Ruby Myers), 1930s party queen Miss Rose (Rose Ezra), Pramila (Esther Abraham), and saucy vamp Nadira (Farhat Ezekiel). The film also features current Bollywood stars commenting on the legacy of these mega-stars on their industry.

Cost: $8 Member | $10 Public

07:00 pm to 09:00 pm: A Quiet Heart

A psychological thriller exploring the dangers of intolerance between conservative and liberal Israelis. Secular Naomi (Ania Bukstein, Game of Thrones) is a concert pianist who moves from Tel Aviv to a housing project in Jerusalem where most of her neighbors are ultra-Orthodox Jews.

While Naomi is not welcome by the residents, she befriends a boy pianist, a woman activist, and a monk who teaches her to play the organ. Increasingly victimized, she continues to assert herself and uncovers mysteries about her apartment’s former tenant.

Cost: $8 Member | $10 Public

Location: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Monday, March 12, 2018

06:00 pm to 08:00 pm: Shelter

What happens when two women are trapped in a safe house where nothing is safe and no one is trusted? From the acclaimed director of The Lemon Tree (HJFF 2009) and A Borrowed Identity (HJFF 2015), Shelter tells the story of a female Mossad agent protecting a female Lebanese informant in a safe house in Hamburg.

An intimacy develops between the two women and their relationship is exposed to the threat of terror. In this dance of deception, beliefs are questioned and choices are made. Their fate takes a surprising turn in this suspense-laden, elegant neo-noir.

Cost: $6

08:00 pm to 10:00 pm: The Testament

Yoel, an Israeli historian and Orthodox Jew, searches to uncover the truth about a massacre of Jews during the latter days of WWII. With neither witnesses nor knowledge of the location of their mass grave, Yoel’s task is difficult.

During his search, however, he discovers his mother’s classified testimony and learns that she is not the woman whom he thought she was. Yoel recognizes he must grapple with the dichotomy between his identity and the truth.

Cost: $9 Member | $14 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC Houston

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

07:30 pm to 09:30 pm: Chair's Choice: Dr. Strangelove

Join us for Dr. Strangelove, a favorite of our Film Chair, Leah Gross.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

This landmark film, directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick, satirizes the Cold War fears of a nuclear conflict.

Fanatical U.S. general Jack D. Ripper unilaterally launches a nuclear attack on Russia during the Cold War; the President (Peter Sellers) and his advisors, Nazi scientist Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers) and General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) endeavor to recall the bombers to prevent nuclear holocaust.

Cost: $9 Member | $14 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC Houston

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

07:30 pm to 09:30 pm: Bye Bye Germany

At the end of WWII, approximately 4,000 survivors decided to remain in Germany. Among them is David Bermann, who reopens his family’s seized linen business despite the fact that the Americans deny him an operations license because he is suspected of being a Nazi collaborator.

Nevertheless, Bermann gathers a group of Jewish salesmen to peddle his linens door to door to German customers. This sly humorous dramedy addresses the ways in which a sense of absurdity is vital to rebirth and redemption.

Cost: $9 Member | $14 Public

Location: Midtown Arts & Theatre Center Houston

Thursday, March 15, 2018

06:00 pm to 08:00 pm: Winter Hunt

Anselm Rossberg, a former Auschwitz guard, lives with his daughter Maria in their secluded family mansion. Lena, claiming her car has broken down, appears on the mansion’s doorstep seeking assistance.

The disabled car is a ruse; Lena is pursuing Rossberg. While the pursued and his daughter deny his past, Lena is determined to obtain a confession—and is confronted with a moral dilemma she never anticipated in this tense, atmospheric film.

Cost: $6

08:00 pm to 10:00 pm: Saving Neta

Four women, four stories: Dalia, a single mother and career army officer is trying to achieve work/life balance; Ruti, a cellist, wants to have a baby with her partner who is uncertain that the time is right; Miri, who on a family picnic learns that her husband is leaving her; and Sharona, returning to her kibbutz from abroad, has to place her mentally disabled sister in an institution.

Each encounters Neta, a mysterious stranger who has lost his own way but helps each woman reconnect with her family.

Cost: $9 Member | $14 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC Houston

Saturday, March 17, 2018

06:00 pm to 08:00 pm: Humor Me

This heartfelt father-son comedy follows a struggling playwright who is forced to move in with his joke-telling dad in a New Jersey retirement community. He learns, as his father often says, “life's going to happen, whether you smile or not.”

Featuring Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Concords), Elliott Gould (Ocean’s Eleven), and Maria Dizzia (Orange is the New Black), Humor Me is Sam Hoffman’s directorial debut. The film is inspired by his website Old Jews Telling Jokes, which also sparked an off-Broadway play, a bestselling book (JBAF 2010) and a lecture series.

Cost: $9 Member | $14 Public

08:30 pm to 10:30 pm: Love is Thicker Than Water

In this modern Romeo and Juliet story, Arthur and Vida come from vastly different backgrounds. He is a bike courier from a Welsh working class background and she is a cellist from a wealthy Jewish family.

Set in contemporary London, this touching, sensitive and quirky tale shows how religion and class collide. But as in Shakepeare’s play, conflicting family ties present a challenge. Will love prevail?

Johnny Flynn (Genius), Juliet Stevenson (Truly, Madly, Deeply), and Ellie  endrick (Game of Thrones) are part of the ensemble cast.

Cost: $9 Member | $14 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC Houston

Sunday, March 18, 2018

02:00 pm to 04:00 pm: House of Z

Join us at 1:00 PM for a Champagne Reception with Zac Posen fashion sponsored by Neiman Marcus.

Zac Posen is one of the most recognizable brands in the fashion world. Discovered as a teenager, Posen would design clothes for his high school friends: Chloë Sevigny and Claire Danes. A wunderkind who crashed and burned at an age when many designers are still finding their footing, his fast ascent to fashion stardom also was his downfall.

Featuring interviews with Posen’s family and friends (including Naomi Campbell and André Leon Talley), House of Z follows Posen’s rise and fall and, at last, his redemption.

Cost: $9 Member | $14 Public

04:00 pm to 06:00 pm: Afternoon of Shorts

THE TRANSFER
Directed by Michael Grudsky
Israel/Germany, 2016, 22 min
Erez, an Israeli officer has been ordered to transfer a prisoner through the Negev Desert - a journey where he’ll have to surpass himself.

MORDECHAI
Directed by Benjamin Bee
UK, 2017, 14 min
Daniel, an ultra-orthodox Jew, hasn’t seen his identical twin brother Mordechai in years; Mordechai’s ‘life choices’ were a bit too much for the family to handle. But today is the day of their father’s funeral.

THE FORGER
Directed by Pamela Druckerman, Samantha Stark, Alexandra Garcia
USA, 2016, 16 min
Adolfo Kaminsky started saving lives when chance and necessity made him a master forger. As a teenager, he became a member of the French Resistance and used his talent to save the lives of thousands of Jews.

ACROSS THE LINE
Directed by Nadav Shlomo Giladi
Israel, 2017, 29 min
Hananel, an Israeli Jewish settler, is hurrying home for Shabbat. An unexpected encounter with Mundir, a troubled Palestinian hitchhiker, leads them both on a series of adventures that  eventually teach them a surprising lesson in communication, friendship, and love.

SEVEN MINUTES
Directed by Assaf Machnes
Israel, 2016, 12 min
Yonash, a junior IDF soldier, is supposed to stay at the army base over the weekend. At the last moment, he is given a chance to return home. Seven minutes is all that separates Yonash from his temporary freedom.

POSTMAN IN UNDERWEAR
Directed by Daniel Binsted & Ben Ziv
Israel, 2016, 15 min
This is the story of an eccentric postman in the throes of a first-time love. In an attempt to help him express his feelings, two brothers seek to clarify the difference between romantic fantasy and real love.

Cost: $9 Member | $14 Public

07:30 pm to 09:30 pm: Closing Night: Keep the Change

Winner of the best narrative feature at the Tribeca Festival, this romantic comedy chronicles the  relationship of David and Sarah, two young people on the autism spectrum.

David, son of wealthy Jewish parents, is forced to join a support group after he insults a cop. Sarah, unlike David, recognizes and accepts her disabilities. As their relationship deepens, she challenges David to embrace his own uniqueness.

The cast is comprised mostly of autistic members of The Manhattan JCC. An endearing and naturalistic romantic comedy about people navigating the difficulties of a relationship, Keep the Change details an underrepresented community with authenticity, optimism and humor.

Cost: $9 Member | $14 Public

Location: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC Houston

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

07:30 pm to 09:30 pm: Get Cultured: Short Film Night

POSTMAN IN UNDERWEAR
Directed by Daniel Binsted & Ben Ziv
Israel, 2016, 15 min
This is the story of an eccentric postman in the throes of a first-time love. In an attempt to help him express his feelings, two brothers seek to clarify the difference between romantic fantasy and real love.

AN AVERAGE STORY
Directed by Yaniv Segalovich
Israel, 2016, 17 min
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 in this wry comedy.

LOST PARADISE
Directed by Oded Binnun & Mihal Brezis
France/Israel, 2009, 10 min
A man and a woman are making love in a one-star hotel room. A moment later, when they are both dressed, the idyll that seemed authentic is now gone. A present-day Adam and Eve story.

THE FUNERAL
Directed by Nick Green
UK, 2013, 15 min
Arnold is being pulled in two different directions by his mother and wife about his son’s Bar Mitzvah. But when a family tragedy brings everyone together, it has consequences no one quite expects.

Cost: This is a free event!

Location: Axelrad Beer Garden

Fest Date: March 3 - 18, 2018

Locations:
Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood, Houston, TX 77096
Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston (MATCH), 3400 Main Street, Houston, TX 77002
Holocaust Museum Houston, 9220 Kirby Drive Suite 100, Houston, TX 77054
Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet Street, Houston, TX 77005
Axelrad Beer Garden, 1517 Alabama St, Houston, TX 77004

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