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Oscar night at Encore American Bistro, 2012 Jewish Film Festival opens

by Mark Burger

Sunday is Oscar Night, and billions around the world will be watching and waiting to see the results.

With nine films nominated for Best Picture — an odd total, if you ask me (and you didn’t) — it’s anybody’s guess which one will take home the gold.

Personally, I’d like to see The Descendants win, but I’ve the nagging, increasing feeling that The Artist will. You’ve got to hand it to producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein: They know how to run an Oscar campaign. The English Patient (1996), Shakespeare in Love (1998), Chicago (2002) and last year’s The King’s Speech all won Best Picture, and each was positioned and promoted perfectly by its producers.

This Sunday’s ceremony marks the 84th Academy Awards, held at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre, and Billy Crystal is back at the helm as host (after Eddie Murphy and producer Brett Ratner dropped out). Sometimes it seems as if I’ve watched all 84 Oscar broadcasts, but I’ll likely be watching again.

Encore American Bistro (411 W. 4th St., Winston-Salem) will be celebrating the Oscars in its own delectable way, with a special Oscar Ball Fundraiser. There will be live jazz music, a raffle with prize giveaways, an Academy Awards contest (pick the winners), the network broadcast of the Academy Awards (of course!) and the culinary wizardry for which Encore American Bistro is renowned.

For $20, you get dinner and a cocktail. For $30, you get a two-course dinner, raffle ticket and a cocktail. For $40, you get a three-course dinner, raffle ticket, cocktail and the option to reserve seating space in the VIP screening room. It’s safe to say that you’ve not quite experienced the Academy Awards like this!

Proceeds from the event will benefit senior film students from the School of Filmmaking at the UNC School of the Arts who are enrolled in the Los Angeles Immersion curriculum. Each year, those students travel to Los Angeles to meet with industry professionals and, hopefully, embark on successful careers in the filmmaking field. Who knows? The filmmaking student of today may well be the Academy Award nominee of tomorrow.

Seating will be at 6 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Due to limited seating, reservations are strongly suggested. For reservations or more information, call 336.722.9911 or visit the official website: www.encoreamericanbistro.com.

There’s more film news on the local front, as the 2012 Triad Jewish Film Festival opens this Saturday, with screenings taking place at the Regal Grande Stadium 16 (3025 Northline Ave., Greenboro), located in Friendly Center.

The festival’s intent has always been to “enlighten, educate and entertain” — and that alliterative mission looks to have been fulfilled this year, with a series of acclaimed international films that examine the Jewish experience in different ways and with different points of view.

Radu Mihaileanu’s award-winning Frenchlanguage comedy The Concert opens the festival on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., followed on Sunday at 2 p.m. by Matej Minac’s docu-drama Nicky’s Family , winner of the Audience Award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. On Thursday, March 1 at 7:30 p.m., Ori Ravid’s Israeli drama Eli & Ben will be screened. The film stars Yuval Shevach as a young boy (Eli) whose relationship with his father (Lior Ashkenazi as Ben) is forever altered when the father is accused of a crime and faces a prison sentence.

Paul Smaczny’s Emmy Award-winning documentary Knowledge is the Beginning will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 4. The film follows acclaimed composer Daniel Barenboim as he seeks to assemble a world-class orchestra from musicians in the Middle East. Yohanan Weller’s romantic comedy Salsa Tel Aviv, starring Angel Bonani and Dan Deutsch, will be screened Thursday, March 8, at 7:30 p.m. Capping off the festival is writer/director Rose Bosch’s fact-based World War II drama La rafle (AKA The Roundup), starring Jean Reno, Melanie Laurent and Sylvie Testud, which will be screened Saturday, March 10, at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets for each screening are $10, a six-film “Reel Deal” pass is $54. For more information about the festival, or to purchase advance tickets, visit www.myTJFF.com, or call the Greensboro Jewish Federation: 336.852.5433.

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