The Arty Semite

Are Jewish Film Festivals in Trouble?

By Benjamin Ivry

  • Print
  • Share Share

As reported earlier this year, Berlin’s Jewish Film Festival, Germany’s only such gathering, may be shutting its doors due to funding cuts from the local government.

Is Jewish culture now so well-loved and understood in Berlin that such a festival is no longer needed? On the contrary, the London-born Berlin festival director Nicola Galliner told Haaretz that the “existence of such a festival is extremely important, because there is strong xenophobia and anti-Semitism in this country.”

The situation in Berlin should be a wake-up call to the 100 or so other Jewish film festivals scattered around the world. It is necessary to add “or so” since incredibly enough, these organizations work independently, without any central organization offering advice, support, encouragement, protection, or even enumeration. With world arts budgets in their current state, the time for such fragmented self-sufficiency may be over, since when one such cultural beacon is lost, all are slightly diminished.

With the St. Louis Jewish Film Festival just concluding, and the 30th anniversary of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival approaching fast on July 24, it is timely not just to relish what these festivals offer, but also to take note of what it means when such festivals are allowed to die of inanition.

Having survived last year’s brouhaha, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival continues to provide a forum not just for the duty of historical memory, but also for the enlightenment of mutual understanding. According to the SFJFF website, its programming is centered on the “universality of Jewish themes, while always exploring and expanding the boundaries of what makes a film Jewish.”

To cite only one example, back in 1998, the SFJFF screened a documentary, “Amos Gutman, Filmmaker,” about an important Israeli director who died at a tragically young age of AIDS, but whose influence continues to resonate in the country’s arts scene today.

Preferring memory and commemoration over Berlin governmental-style obliviousness seems like an obvious choice as this year’s summer and autumn festivals approach.

Make sure to plan ahead to visit and participate in these upcoming Jewish Film Festivals:

July 12 - August 16 Berkshire Jewish Film Festival

July 24 - August 9 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival

July 25 – August 2 Rochester Jewish Film Festival

November 3 – 14 Boston Jewish Film Festival

November 3 – 11 Nashville Jewish Film Festival

November 7 - 9 and 14 – 16 Columbus Jewish Film Festival

November 13 – 21 Hong Kong Jewish Film Festival

November 23 - 28 Warsaw Jewish Film Festival

December 2 – 12 Washington Jewish Film Festival


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Berlin, Jewish Film Festivals

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.