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Upcoming festival touts entertainment, understanding and cultural diversity

by Mark Burger

The Triad Jewish Film Festival is still a week away, but advance tickets are already selling quickly – this according to Deborah Kintzing, the director of campaign and community relations for the Greensboro Jewish Federation, which is again hosting the festival.

“It’s not just another night at the movies,” says Kintzing. “We wanted to find movies that are thought-provoking, that make you laugh and make your cry.”

In addition, there’s the novelty factor. Many, if not all, of the six films being shown probably wouldn’t be shown here otherwise. In an era when high-concept, big-studio blockbusters dominate the multiplexes, the smaller, independent films face a tough time getting exposure.

That’s where film festivals come in, bringing movies to the masses that they wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to see on the big screen.

This marks the sixth Triad Jewish Film Festival, although one year it was decided to forego it because organizers were not in place and other federation commitments took precedence. They didn’t just want to do it for the sake of doing it; they wanted to do it right.

Nevertheless, recalls Kintzing with a laugh, “you would not believe the phone calls we got, asking where was the festival… and when was it coming back.” Lesson learned.

“When we brought it back the next year, it was greeted with great welcome by the community – which was very gratifying to us,” she says.

The festival will run from Feb. 7 to Feb. 17, with screenings taking place at the Consolidated Grande Theatre (3205 Northline Ave., Greensboro, in the Friendly Shopping Center).

This year’s lineup includes Dina Zvi-Riklis’ award-winning drama Three Mothers (Shalosh Ima’ot); the ribald comedy She’s Got It; Paul Weiland’s nostalgic bar-mitzvah comedy Sixty-Six, starring Academy Award nominees Helena Bonham Carter and Stephen Rea; writer/director Dror Shaul’s Sweet Mud (Adama Meshuga’at), which won four of the 2006 Awards of the Israeli Film Academy (including best picture), as well as the Grand Jury Prize from the 2007 Sundance Film Festival; writer/director Shemi Zarhin’s award-winning comedy/drama Bonjour, Monsieur Shlomi (Kochavim Shel Shlomi), which earned 12 nominations from the 2003 Israeli Film Academy (including best film); and writer/director Menachem Daum and Oren Rudavisky’s critically acclaimed (and self-explanatory) documentary feature Hiding and Seeking: Faith and Tolerance After the Holocaust.

The purpose of screening these films is “to communicate another face and another culture, and another religion,” Kintzing says.

Although the films selected are meant to “highlight the Jewish experience,” says Kintzing, many of the sold-out screenings at past festivals were attended by Jewish and non-Jewish audiences alike.

“That’s been a nice component of the festival,” she says, and an intentional one. “We’re educating and helping people to understand, to create an empathy.”

Following the screening of She’s Got It on Feb. 7, there will be a dessert reception at the Bank of North Carolina to celebrate the festival and to commemorate its sponsors, “without whom there truly wouldn’t be a festival,” says Kintzing.

There will also be a seminar following the Hiding and Seeking screening on Feb. 17 featuring noted Holocaust authority David Crowe, whose latest book is Oskar Schindler: The Untold Story. Crowe is also a professor in the department of history and geography at Elon University.

But even if there’s not a scheduled seminar following the screening, “I hope that people will talk about the films they’ve seen,” says Kintzing, “and these films, I think, offer people something to talk about and to think about… to think of the past and the future in different ways, from different perspectives.”

Tickets are $9 advance (before Feb. 6) or $10 day of show (if available). A “Reel Deal” package of tickets for all six films is available for $48.

For more information about the festival, call 336.852.5433, and you can also order tickets via the federation’s website: shalomgreensboro.org. You can also view a complete festival schedule on the website. (According to Kintzing, advance tickets have been selling at a very healthy clip, so keep that in mind.)

Looking back over the festival’s history and ahead to its future, “we’ve been very, very successful,” Kintzing says, “and the festival has really become a part of the community – not just the Jewish community, but the arts community as well – and we’re very proud of that.”

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