Winston-Salem’s a/perture Cinema hosts ranks of the Vltava premiere screeing

by Mark Burger

The a/perture cinemas in Winston- Salem was the place to be Sunday night, as members of the cast and crew of the independent short film Banks of the Vltava congregated for a special screening of the film.

Set during World War II, the film brings to life the legend of the Golem, the fabled creature of Jewish folklore. As the Jewish citizens are being persecuted and murdered by Nazi soldiers, the Golem becomes a symbol of retribution as it comes to life and slaughters those who would kill the Jews. But once a Golem gets going, it can be deadly difficult to stop its rampage. Therein lies the moral of the story. Violence, no matter how righteous, tends to beget more violence.

“We wanted to make a monster movie,” explained filmmaker Dan AR Kelly, the film’s writer/director/producer and co-story writer, who also donned the Golem costume for the film, which was filmed entirely in the Piedmont Triad region (doubling for Eastern Europe). The entire production spanned 2.5 years, including CGI special effects.

Kelly thanked those friends and supporters (and journalists!) who had braved the cold weather to be in attendance for the screening, and praised those who helped make the film. He specifically thanked his wife and daughter “for being the only things cooler than making movies.”

Banks of the Vltava stars Rami Rothstein as Rabbi Gabcik and Mike Shuford as Rabbi Lowe, and the cast also includes Franny Civitano, Antje Price, Skyler Narotsky, David G. Holland, Bill Davis, Woody Andrews, Mason Bruce and Michael Kamtman.

With the film now completed, Kelly, a veteran of the Greensboro 48 Hour Film Project, said he hopes to take the film on the festival circuit.

There was a private screening of the film for invited guests, followed shortly thereafter by a public screening. After which, guests convened at the offices of Altair Casting & Production Services on Coliseum Drive for libation and conversation, not only about this film but about the local film industry in general.

With Banks of the Vlatva now complete, Kelly said he’s looking forward to making more movies. “Bring ’em on,” he joked.

For more information about Banks of the Vltava and other projects by the filmmakers, see

The 2011 Triad Jewish Film Festival continues this week in Greensboro, with screenings taking place at the Regal Grande Cinema in the Friendly Center (3205 Northline Ave., Greensboro).

Presented by the Greensboro Jewish Federation, the festival’s ongoing mission has been to “Enlighten. Educate. Entertain.”

The festival’s opening night film, The Yankles, about a baseball team of orthodox Jews, was a sell-out. Next up is Shlomi Eldar’s critically acclaimed feature debut, the documentary Precious Life, which details the efforts of Israeli doctors to save the life of a Palestinian child suffering from an immunedeficiency disorder.

In his review, Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal wrote: “As of now, the only thing I can imagine standing in the way of an Oscar for Precious Life is peace breaking out before the ballots go in the mail.” Added Stephen Farber of The Hollywood Reporter: “The film has as much tension as a good

thriller and more honest emotion than most Hollywood tearjerkers… and it’s suffused with moral intelligence.”

Precious Life will be screened 7:30 p.m. this Thursday. (In Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles) The festival will then conclude with Berlin ‘36, director Kaspar Heidelbach’s factbased sports drama about Gretel Bergmann (Karoline Herfurth), widely acclaimed as one of the world’s best high-jumpers. Trouble is, she’s Jewish, and Germany — then in the throes of Nazi dominance — wasn’t permitting Jewish athletes to compete in the 1936 Olympic Games, which were to be held in Berlin.

In an effort to appease other nations (including this one) that had threatened to boycott the Olympics, Gretel was permitted to represent Germany in the games, albeit begrudgingly. Yet how can an athlete properly represent a nation that discriminates against her, and how can a nation properly support an athlete it discriminates against?

Berlin ‘36 will be screened 7:30 p.m.

Saturday. (In German with English subtitles) It’s highly unlikely that either Precious Life or Berlin ‘36 — or any of the films selected by the Triad Jewish Film Festival, for that matter — would see theatrical release hereabouts were it not for the festival.

Tickets to each screening are $10.

Reserving advance tickets is suggested. For more information about the festival, call 336.852.5433 or check out the official Triad Jewish Film Festival website: www.myTJFF. com.