Created by the Jewish Leadership Council of the CSRA, the Augusta Jewish Film Festival has showcased films highlighting Jewish life and themes since 2011.
Five award-winning films incorporating Jewish culture, produced in the U.S. and Israel, as well as other countries around the globe, will be shown during the festival which begins Jan. 22.
These films allow “Jews and non-Jews alike to better understand who we are as American Jews,” according to a news release from the Jewish Community Center and Federation of Augusta.
COVID caused the festival to become a virtual event rather than an in-person one and that tradition continues this year.
“We are continuing with a virtual Film Festival for 2023 since this format was so well received. As was done last year, each film will be available for online viewing for a period of 72 hours,” the release said.
Each film will be available from 12:01 a.m. Sundays to noon Tuesdays for five weeks, followed by a moderated Zoom discussion on the following Wednesday or Thursday.
This year’s films include:
Farewell Mr. Haffmann: Jan. 22-24 with the Zoom discussion at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26.
“It is May, 1941 in Paris, and the Germans are occupying France. Jeweler Joseph Haffman sends his family to the free zone, but his plans to join them are thwarted. He “sold” his business to his newly hired assistant Francois, who then hides Haffman in the shop’s basement. Francois begins to do business with the German soldiers, selling them jewelry for their girlfriends, and actually befriends them. As the occupation continues, we witness character changes in the people involved. There are many twists and turns in the plot, with a surprise ending. This is not your typical Holocaust-themed movie. In French, with subtitles.”
The Levys of Monticello:: Jan. 29-31 with Zoom discussion, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2.
“This documentary focuses on Uriah Philips Levy, a fifth generation Jewish Navy captain who purchased Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, eight years after Jefferson’s death. Monticello remained in the Levy family for 90 years. Levy, as did Jefferson, owned slaves, and the documentary explores the connection between Jefferson, African-Americans and Jews and anti-Semitism. When Monticello was sold in 1923 to the newly formed Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, it was sterilized of its Jewish connection. This is a fascinating story that has not been told in history books. In English.”
Plan A: Feb. 5-7. Zoom discussion, 7 p.m. Thursday Feb. 9
“The movie begins with the questions, ‘What if I told you that your family was murdered, for no reason at all? What would you do?’ This is the story of Max, who in 1945 returns to his hometown in Germany to discover that his family was killed. He is overcome with grief and hate, and wants revenge. He ends up joining the Jewish Avenger group Nakam that plots to avenge ‘an eye for an eye, 6 million for 6 million.’ The film is based on the true story of the Jewish Avengers and also deals with the birth of the State of Israel. Warning: This film is very graphic and violent, but is also a very important film to see. Many moral and ethical questions are raised. ‘What would you do?’ In English.
Xueta Island: A Hidden History: March 5–7. Zoom discussion, 7 p.m. March 9
“This documentary tells the engaging story of a small group of ‘crypto Jews’ on the Spanish island of Majorca. In the early 1400s, the Jews of Majorca were subjected to the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition. Many left, others were murdered in the infamous ‘autos de fe’ and some 15 families converted to Catholicism as ‘conversos’ or ‘Xuetos.’ The Xuetos maintained their own community, and the descendants have been shunned for centuries. Now, some of them are recognizing their Jewish roots and learning about their heritage, which is also altering the composition of the small community of transplanted Jews. Beautiful photography. In English and Spanish with subtitles.”
America: March 12-14. Zoom discussion, 7 p.m. Thursday, March 16,
“Eli, a swim coach, returns to his native Israel after 10 years in America, following the death of his estranged father. He reunites with his childhood best friend Yotam and Yotam’s fiancée Iris, who runs a flower shop. A tragedy occurs. This is a beautiful film about friendships, relationships, hardships, and families. The scenery and photography are beautiful (providing a nice glimpse of life in Israel). In Hebrew (and a little English), with subtitles.”
A single film link is $10 for individuals or $5 for students. Links for all five films are $40 for individuals or $20 for students.
For more information, call (706) 228-3636 or email email@example.com.
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