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Jewish Film Festival: Jews with many views

The festival’s 26th edition will be an online-physical hybrid. From Oscar candidates to Israeli favourites, our film editor rounds up the highlights.

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Lena Chaplin’s Underground Ballet took home the Haifa Film Festival’s award best Israeli documentary. It screens online at this year’s Jewish Film Festival. Photo: Hot – Channel 8

Many film festivals have chosen to take place under the terms of the ongoing pandemic this month, often with reduced runtimes, streamlined programmes that allow for repeat screenings or an online-physical blend, all stressing that indoor events will respect hygiene protocols and social distancing.

The JFFB Jewish Film Festival has elected to go ahead under the title Jews With Many Views, running this Sunday, September 6th through to the 13th. For 26 years, the festival has provided insights into the diversity and multi-layered nature of Jewish culture, and this new edition is no different. However, what is special about this year is its status as a hybrid of sorts, as the programmers seize the opportunity to skirt the debate between online screenings versus theatre screenings by offering its audience both options. Indeed, for the first time, the festival takes place in several cinemas across the city and online. There will only be 14 screenings in kinos as the rest of the selection appears online.

Our top picks are Israel’s 2020 Oscar candidate and festival opener Incitement, (September 6th, City Kino Wedding – 7.30pm) a tense drama by Yaron Zilberman which chronicles the year leading towards the assassination attempt on Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin from the perspective of a young student who turns from activist to assassin, as well as Those Who Remained (September 9th, Hackesche Höfe – 7.30pm, with a repeat screening on the 10th, Brotfabrik – 7.30pm), last year’s Hungarian entry for the Best International Feature Film at the Oscars. It’s a Budapest-set post-Holocaust story about the heavy inheritance of trauma, following a 16-year-old girl and a middle-aged doctor who mourn the loss of their families  murdered in concentration camps.

Another standout can be found online this year: the winner of the Haifa Film Festival’s best Israeli documentary, Lena Chaplin’s Underground Ballet, which tells the story of a Russian-Israeli who runs a ballet studio beneath Jerusalem’s Teddy football stadium. It follows the lives of the ballerinas studying under Nadya and having to deal with their personal struggles in a city described as “anti-ballet”. Lastly, as part of their educational programme, JFFB will put the documentary Hummus! The Movie online for free – it’s well worth a watch. Indeed, the 2015 film by Oren Rosenfeld is a story about community and faith told through the lens of the delicious chickpea-based superfood, which has the power to unite and create culinary conflicts.

JFBB / September 06–13, City Kino Wedding, FSK, Hackesche Höfe Kino, Cinema Paris, Brotfabrik, Klick Kino, Delphi Filmpalast am Zoo. Full programme and online screenings at https://www.jfbb.de/en/