Press Releases:

Boston Jewish Film Festival Announces 2017 Official Selections 

Tickets On Sale Now for November 8-20 Festival

NEWTON, MA – September 28, 2017 – The Boston Jewish Film Festival has announced the official selections for this year’s festival.

Opening Night Bye Bye Germany

Thirty-nine films have been selected and will be screened from November 8-20, 2017 at theaters around Greater Boston. This year’s Festival covers global themes across topics including post World War II Europe, disability, the intersection of sports and politics, immigration, complicated family dynamics, and more.

With more than 55 screenings and events, the 2017 Boston Jewish Film Festival includes the Opening Night screening of Bye Bye Germany, the MidFest screening of Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, the Community Spotlight Screening of Etched in Glass: The Legacy of Steve Ross, and the Closing Night screening of Keep the Change.  The Festival will also feature BJFF Jr.!, a live recording of WBUR’s Circle Round; the NuWave Virtual Reality Experience; Marlee Matlin Presents; and Women on the Verge: Short Film Program.

“We are thrilled to be incorporating a variety of new media into the 29th annual Boston Jewish Film Festival,” said Ariana Cohen-Halberstam, the Artistic Director at the BJFF. “In presenting this media, including a live podcast and virtual reality experiences, we are able to explore the age-old tradition of storytelling in a new way.”

“This will be one of the most engaging and dynamic Festivals we’ve had,” continued Cohen-Halberstam. “The diversity of films provides a unique lens into the history that makes us who we are, as we reveal the stories that have helped to shape today’s world.”

Highlights of the 2017 festival include:

The 29th annual Boston Jewish Film Festival will open on Wednesday, November 8 with the Boston Premiere of Bye Bye Germany at the Coolidge Corner Theatre.  Directed by Sam Garbarski, this narrative comedic film takes place in Frankfurt in 1946; Jews remaining in Displaced Persons Camps must make new rules to survive. Bye Bye Germany was an Official Selection at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival.   

MidFest Event: Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story Hedy Lamar takes the stage at the MidFest Event for a Screening of Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story on Wednesday, November 15, at 6:30 pm at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. Hedy Lamarr is best known as a beautiful starlet, but Bombshell introduces us to a much richer life — from Lamarr’s earliest role in an erotic film to her invention of the cellular technology used in WiFi. Directed by Alexandra Dean. This event will be preceded by a performance of History at Play’s “Tinseltown Inventor: The Most Beautiful Woman in the World, Hedy Lamarr.”

Actress Marlee Matlin will join the Boston Jewish Film Festival for a screening and conversation about a Jewish film that inspired her on Sunday, November 19 at 12:00 pm at the Museum of Fine Arts. Matlin won an Academy Award for her role in the 1986 film Children of a Lesser God. She has starred in film and TV across genres and works with Deaf and hard-of-hearing children throughout the world.

The Community Spotlight Screening, held at the Coolidge Corner Theatre on November 10 at 12 pm will be Etched in Glass: The Legacy of Steve Ross, directed by local filmmaker Roger Lyons. Bostonian Steve Ross was only 9 years old when he was first taken by the Nazis. His miraculous survival inspired him to spend his life sharing his story and making the world a better place.

Initiated in 2016, BJFF Jr.! brings the Boston Jewish Film Festival to a young audience. This year’s event will be a live recording of WBUR’s Circle Round, a new storytelling podcast for kids and the young at heart on Sunday, November 12 at 2:30 pm at the Coolidge Corner Theatre.

Designed for young professionals, the FreshFlix series will celebrate new voices in Jewish film. Seven screenings will be held throughout the festival, including the Short Film Competition on Thursday, November 9, 7 pm at the Somerville Theatre.

NuWave: The Virtual Reality Experience

New to the festival this year and part of the FreshFlix program is: NuWave: The Virtual Reality Experience. This interactive experience will allow attendees to explore virtual reality (VR) as a new medium for storytelling. This event is presented in partnership with Brookline Interactive Group on November 16: discussion at 5:30 pm, cocktails and VR experience at 6:30 pm.

The festival will close on Monday, November 20 at 6:30 pm with the New England premiere of Keep the Change at the Boston Public Library. A rom-com about David, who is obsessed with being perceived as “normal” and Sarah, a woman he meets at a social skills support group who exudes positivity and confidence. Keep the Change’s cast includes actors on the autism spectrum and also stars Tibor Feldman (The Sopranos) and Jessica Walter (Arrested Development). Directed by Rachel Israel, who was recognized as Best New Narrative Director at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, where Keep the Change won the award for Best Narrative Feature

The Boston Jewish Film Festival will take place at 14 locations: The Capitol Theatre in Arlington, Brookline Interactive Group, Boston Public Library, Brattle Theatre, The Center for the Arts in Natick, Coolidge Corner Theatre, Institute of Contemporary Art, JCC Riemer-Goldstein Theater, Maynard Fine Arts Theatre Place, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Orchard Cove, Showcase Cinema de lux Patriot Place in Foxboro, Somerville Theatre, and West Newton Cinema.

Tickets for individual screenings can be purchased online at www.bjff.org, by phone at 888-615-3332 or in person at cinema box offices. Group sales and Festival passes are available online or by phone from the BJFF office. For the full film schedule or for additional information, visit www.bjff.org

The Boston Jewish Film Festival, a not-for-profit arts organization, celebrates the richness of the Jewish experience through film and media. Throughout the year, the Festival engages and inspires the community to explore the full spectrum of Jewish life, values, and culture.

2017 ReelAbilities Film Festival Celebrates Determination and Unique Perspectives

Official Selections Announced; Tickets On Sale Now for March 29-April 6, 2017 Festival

NEWTON, MA – March 2, 2017 – The Sixth Annual ReelAbilities Film Festival, Boston has announced the official selections for this year’s festival. Ten films have been selected and will be screened between March 29-April 6, 2017.

ReelAbilities strives for the inclusion of all people and is dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different abilities from a variety of communities.

“The line-up for this year’s ReelAbilities Film Festival is one of the best we’ve ever had in Boston due to the number of high quality documentary films produced about people with disabilities,” said Mara Bresnahan, Festival Director. “Each documentary challenges our audience to think differently about people with disabilities in a time when conversations about diversity are crucial. In addition to the variety of perspectives represented in the films, their stories unfold on the screen in a unique and beautiful way.”

The films selected for the 2017 Festival include:

  • Life, Animated – Directed by Roger Ross Williams, Life, Animated is an Oscar-nominated documentary that introduces us to Own Suskind, a young man with autism who, as a child, was unable to speak until he and his family discovered a unique way to communicate – immersing themselves in the world of classic Disney animated films. Ron Suskind, Owen’s father and author of the New York Times bestseller that inspired the film, will lead a discussion on how these stories helped his family find their way through hard times.
  • The Rebound – Directed by Shaina Allen, The Rebound follows the underdog journey of the Miami Heat Wheels wheelchair basketball team in their quest for a national championship. The screening will be followed by a discussion with members of the Boston Blazers, a local wheelchair basketball team.
  • Asperger’s Are Us – Co-presented with the Bright Light Series, Asperger’s Are Us is a documentary about the first comedy troupe consisting of openly autistic people. The film follows four friends from the North Shore of Boston as they prepare for their final, ambitious comedy show before going their separate way. A discussion will follow with director Alex Lehmann and members of the comedy troupe.
  • True Smile – Directed by Juan Rayos, True Smile is an astonishing journey as seen through the eyes of 26-year-old Sergio Aznárez Rosado, who was born both blind and with autism, yet lives a life packed with adventure. Over the course of 30 days, Sergio embarks on a 1,300-kilometer tandem bike ride across Spain and Morocco with his brother, Juan Manuel, who pilots the bicycle. This screening is co-presented with Waypoint Adventure.
  • That Which is Possible – Directed by Michael Gitlin, That Which is Possible follows a community of painters, sculptors, musicians, and writers who create art at the Living Museum, an art space on the grounds of a large state-run psychiatric facility in Queens, NY. A discussion with artists from Gateway Arts will follow the screening.
  • My Hero Brother – Directed by Yonatan Nir, My Hero Brother follows a group of young Israelis with Down syndrome and their siblings as they embark on a demanding trip through the Indian Himalayas, where the conflicts and the complexities of their relationships come to the surface. My Hero Brother is co-presented with The Boston Jewish Film Festival.
  • Notes on Blindness – In 1983, after many decades of deterioration, writer and theologian John Hull became totally blind. To help him make sense of the upheaval in his life, he documented his experiences on audio cassette and in this film, actors lip-sync to the voices, resulting in a poetic and intimate story. A Skype Q&A with directors James Spinney and Peter Middleton will follow the screening. This screening is co-presented with The DocYard.
  • Rachel Is – Directed by Charlotte Glynn, Rachel Is explores the relationship between Jane and Rachel, her daughter with a developmental disability as each seeks independence from the other. A discussion will follow with Ms. Glynn, along with Susan Senator, author of Autism Adulthood: Strategies and Insights for a Fulfilling Life.
  • Gabe – Gabe Weil is a 27-year-old who was born with the most severe form of muscular dystrophy who was told he would be lucky to live past 25. The news that he was misdiagnosed, and might live well into his 50s, forces him to rethink his life from scratch. Following the screening, a discussion will be held with director Luke Terrell.
  • Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing – Directed by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern, this gripping documentary focuses on the emotional and physical recovery of the individuals whose lives were forever changed by the Boston Marathon bombing. Discussion to follow with film subjects Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky, moderated by Boston Globe reporter Eric Moskowitz. This screening is co-presented with GlobeDocs and Spaulding Rehabilitation Network.

The 2017 ReelAbilities Film Festival Boston is co-presented by The Boston Jewish Film Festival and sponsored by the Ruderman Family Foundation.

“Issues of inclusion continue to be a challenge in the entertainment world,” said Sharon Shapiro, Trustee of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “The ReelAbilities Film Festival in Boston showcases the accomplishments of those with differing abilities and reminds us of the value of including these individuals in mainstream films.”

The Ruderman Family Foundation has announced last month that they will be awarding their prestigious Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion (MER) to Oscar winning actress, Marlee Matlin, who is the only deaf performer to ever win the Oscar for acting and only one of three people with disabilities in Oscar history.

“We are so glad to be awarding Marlee Matlin with the $100,000 MER,” said Shapiro. “She has been a powerful force for inclusion throughout her career and especially in the film and television world. She is a lovely example of the fact that disabilities do not stand in the way of acting talent.”

Additional sponsors include the J.E. & Z.B. Butler Foundation, Nancy Lune Marks Family Foundation, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Special Needs Financial Planning, Emerson College, Mass Cultural Council, Jewish Community Day School, El Al Airlines, , Peapod by Stop & Shop, PLAN of Massachusetts & Rhode Island, Rita J. & Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation, and Rockland Trust Bank.

The ReelAbilities Film Festival, Boston will take place at 11 theaters in and around Boston, including Brattle Theatre, Cambridge Public Library, The Cotting School, Emerson College Bright Family Screening Room, JCC Greater Boston Riemer-Goldstein Theater, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Museum of Science Boston, Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children, and the Somerville Theatre.

All of the screenings, with the exception of Notes on Blindness and the Closing Night screening of Marathon: The Patriot’s Day Bombing are free, however advance registration is recommended. All venues are wheelchair accessible. Registration and tickets for individual screenings can be found online at reelboston.org. For the full film schedule or for additional information, visit reelboston.org.

In The News:

JewishBoston.com – August 15, 2017

A Mid-Summer Night’s Movie That Delights

Moos Boston Jewish Film FestivalIn the very first scene of “Moos”—a delightful but somewhat thin romantic comedy from the Netherlands—the eponymous Moos is pretending to use a steam iron as a makeshift microphone. This shy, lovely woman in her early 20s desperately wants to be a singer. Instead, she is trapped into helping out in her family’s textile shop in the center of Jewish Amsterdam. Almost every inch of the shop is filled with bolts of fabric that clearly leave no room for the time and space Moos needs to realize her dreams. In the mix is also her widower father, who is so dependent on her she even clips his fingernails.

JewishBoston.com – July 24, 2017

An Anti-Semite’s About-Face

Csanad Szegedi’s 2009 election to the European Parliament was an unexpected boon to Hungary’s Jobbik Party. An avowed anti-Semite and fascist, Szegedi was a rising young star of Hungary’s far right who stepped up as Jobbik’s second-in-command when he was just 26 years old. But by 2012, Szegedi’s life was thrown into disarray after a political foe exposed his Jewish roots. Unbeknownst to Szegedi, his beloved grandmother was a survivor of Auschwitz. “[The revelation] was like a dagger through my heart,” he says.

Wicked Local Canton – April 24, 2017

Canton Holocaust survivor interviewed in film to talk at premier

Today, Esther Adler is a published author and poet as well as a resident of Orchard Cove, a continuing care retirement community in Canton, where she teaches several classes to fellow residents.

But Adler’s life story almost wasn’t except for the defiance and survival skills she displayed as a child in the city of Breslau, Poland during World War II. Hers is a remarkable story of resilience featured in a new German documentary titled, “We are Jews from Breslau: Young Survivors and Their Fates After 1933,” which will have its Boston premier at Orchard Cove May 4, followed by discussion with Adler and filmmakers Karin Kaper and Dirk Szuszies.

Boston.com – February 4, 2017

9 things to do in Boston this Sunday that aren’t all about the Super Bowl

If your Patriots knowledge is limited to what you learn from Gisele’s Instagram, you might find yourself struggling amidst the Super Bowl mania that has befallen Boston. Luckily, there are still plenty of things to do this Sunday for those who are more concerned with Danny Amendola’s abs than his stats.