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 Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • 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.