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2010 Triad Jewish Film Festival brings a mix of six to Greensboro

by Mark Burger

The 2010 Triad Jewish Film Festival will open this Saturday at the Carousel Grande Cinemas (1305 Battleground Ave., Greensboro), and organizers believe that this could be the best fest yet.

This year’s festival, which runs through Feb. 4, consists of six feature films that, in the parlance of the Greensboro Jewish Federation (which hosts the festival), “highlight the Jewish experience and celebrate diversity and understanding.”

Brian Kaiser, the chairperson of this year’s Triad Jewish Film Festival and its marketing chairperson last year, believes that the six films scheduled for the festival represent “our best slate of films yet,” he says. “We’ve got the most variety and most accessible selections we’ve ever had.”

The opening-night film is writer/ director Omri Givon’s Seven Minutes in Heaven (Shiva dakot be gan eden) an award-winning thriller with political and supernatural overtones. It is “the movie I’m most interested in seeing the community’s reaction to,” says Kaiser. “It’s one of the most provocative films we’ve shown, and I want to be in the audience to see how people react. It’s definitely the sort of film people will be talking about — a real water-cooler film.”

Rachel Wolf, the director of outreach and education for the Greensboro Jewish Federation, is a longtime devotee of the festival and was delighted to bring her enthusiasm to the process this year.

“It’s a fantastic program, and I’m so proud of the federation for promoting it,” she says. “It’s unique in our community and has been highly successful in larger communities. It’s nice to see it succeed in a smaller one.”

“Thematically, we try to create a lot of variety,” Kaiser says of the selection process. “We try to program a comedy, a documentary, a drama… we do our best to mix it up. The toughest thing each year is finding more family-oriented fare, something that all ages can enjoy.”

This year, the festival will present the award-winning comedy/drama A Matter of Size (Sippur Gadol), which stars Itzik Cohen as a portly protagonist who finds his true calling in the world of Japanese sumo wrestling.

“I loved it,” says Kaiser. “It’s great fun. Even though you’re reading the jokes [as subtitles], it’s very funny.”

This year’s festival also attracted the most submissions, which Kaiser estimates was close to 200. Not every submission is a winner, laughs Wolf, “but this year we had a large amount of films that we really liked, so that was a good problem.”

The appeal of the festival has gone beyond the local Jewish community, with many arthouse aficionados seeking out films they’ve heard about but otherwise wouldn’t be shown theatrically here.

“That’s a good point,” says Kaiser.

“The attendance has increased over the last decade. Early on, I’d say the festival attracted 80 percent Jewish and 20 percent non-Jewish audiences. But now it’s closer to 60/40, so we’ve really touched a nerve.”

Tickets are $11. For more information or a complete schedule of films, call 336.852.5433 or see www.mytjff. com.

Speaking of movies — a topic I rarely tire of — the UNCSA School of Filmmaking has teamed up with the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts to launch a new film series, The Big Screen: Treasures from the UNCSA Moving Image Archive.

This series will present selections from UNCSA’s extensive film collection (over 15,000 films!), which ranks in the Top 5 non-commercial archives in the entire nation.

To commemorate MLK Day, the series will open with a special screening of the Oscar-nominated 1970 documentary feature King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis, the critically acclaimed tribute to the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., directed by Joseph L.

Mankiewicz and Sidney Lumet.

The film opens with the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955 and follows the trajectory of his career, including the March on Washington in 1963, being named Time magazine’s Man of the Year the same year, the voter-registration marches in Selma, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 35 (making him the youngest man to do so) and, tragically, his assassination in Memphis in the spring of 1968.

Dr. King’s friends and admirers, who provide dramatic readings throughout the film, include such Hollywood luminaries as Burt Lancaster, Charlton Heston, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, James Earl Jones, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Paul Winfield, Clarence Williams III and Marlon Brando, to name a few.

Showtime is 7 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets are $8; $2 for UNCSA students (with ID).

Upcoming screenings are scheduled throughout the spring and summer, including Tomorrow, a 1972 drama starring Robert Duvall (Jan. 30); Alan Parker’s 1982 rock ‘n’ roll epic Pink Floyd the Wall (Feb. 20), starring Bob Geldof; and, later in the summer, Steven Spielberg’s classic 1975 adaptation of Jaws (Aug. 28).

wanna go?

All screenings will be held in the Main Theatre of the ACE Exhibition Complex, located on the UNCSA campus (1533 S. Main St., Winston- Salem), and all proceeds from the event will benefit the UNCSA School of Filmmaking scholarships.

For more information, see www.kenanarts.org/blog/post/the-bigscreen-film-series-2010-schedule

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