Israeli-made and Jewish-themed releases on the film festival circuit

    While some of 2019’s film festivals are already behind us, many more are coming up. As is often the case, there’s a superb collection of new Israeli-made and/or Jewish-themed flicks to enjoy this year. Whether you’re lucky enough to view one, or several movies, at a popular film festival or your local JCC, there’s no shortage of compelling movies that you’ll want to see. And if neither of these options works for you, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are sure to make many of these movies available for home viewers before too long.

    Here are some recent releases that have received positive reviews from many critics:

    Incitement

    A psychological thriller by director Yaron Zilberman, this film explores the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November of 1995 from the perspective of the ultra-nationalist killer, Yigal Amir. The film intricately analyzes one of modern Israel’s most devastating historical moments, and the effect it has had on the Jewish nation.

    Jojo Rabbit

    Opening in October, New Zealand native Taika Waititi is the acclaimed director of this film about a young German boy during World War II who finds a Jewish girl hiding in his home. In real life, Watiti has a Maori (indigenous Polynesian) father and a Jewish mother, thus his interest in a Jewish story for his latest film. Watiti is a leading comedy director in Hollywood, well-known for his love of absurd subjects that he makes totally entertaining.

    Lyrebird

    This 2019 release from first-time Jewish director Dan Friedkin is a fascinating post-World War II story about Han van Meegeren, a Dutch art forger who was so masterful that his work could barely be differentiated from the original. He collected millions of dollars from dozens of buyers, including the Dutch Government, but his most famous victims were Nazis. Hermann Goring was swindled out of $7 million (in today’s currency), for what he thought was an original painting by Johannes Vermeer.

    Golda’s Balcony

    The film version of the 2003 Broadway play has been a favorite of audiences at Jewish film festivals throughout 2019, and it will continue to be an award winner well into 2020. Hailed by viewers earlier this year in Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Palm Beach, New Jersey and Winnipeg, Golda will be thrilling new audiences in the US and Canada soon. With long-time Jewish-American stage star Terri Sue “Tovah” Feldshuh in the title role that she created on Broadway, this film is a guaranteed winner.

    My Polish Honeymoon

    This 2019 release is a French film about a Parisian Jewish couple (Anna and Adam) that has recently married. While their trip to Poland is technically a honeymoon, they also plan to explore their Polish heritage while there. This includes attending a remembrance ceremony for the town that was the home to Adam’s grandfather and was destroyed 75 years earlier during World War II. Anna’s grandmother was also from Poland, so they both have much to learn about their family histories. Part drama and part comedy, this movie is very timely with the increased current interest in researching one’s ancestry.

    The Amazing Journey of Aharona and Gidi, in America

    This long-running Israeli documentary television series recently released an 80-minute film about their experiences in the U.S. Famous Israeli chef Yisrael Aharoni and Gidi Gov, an Israeli singer-actor-entertainer, have been touring Europe, Asia and other global locales since 2011. Their focus is on culture, religion, ceremonies and of course, food. While this latest endeavor isn’t technically a “new” movie, it’s the first time the comedic duo have explored parts of America.

    Love Trilogy: Chained

    Written and directed by Tel Aviv native Yaron Shani, this is the second film in the Love Trilogy film series. First viewed in February of 2019 at the Berlin International Film Festival, it was the winner of the Best Israeli Feature at this year’s Jerusalem Film Festival. It tells the story of a conservative father who’s a strict policeman, accused by two teenage boys of sexual assault. He is subsequently suspended from his police position and encounters difficulties at home with his family, as well.

    Clearly, there’s something for everyone at dozens of upcoming film festivals across the U.S. and Canada. So sit back, grab a bucket of popcorn and enjoy your time at the movies.

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