The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee Presents the
2015 Milman-Kover Jewish Film Festival
The sixth annual festival features eight extraordinary films. Special guests will appear at selected showings and for post-film discussions. Theodore Bikel, one of the most versatile actors of his generation, will appear in conjunction with the southwest Florida premiere of the new documentary, “Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem.”
(Sarasota, FL) The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee has selected eight award-winning films for its 2015 Milman-Kover Jewish Film Festival. The festival is March 8-16 at various venues in Sarasota and Manatee counties. (A list of films, dates and times is below.) Many showings will be followed by a discussion with the audience. Tickets are $10 per film, except the opening night film and dessert reception, which is $25. An eight-film festival pass is $100 and offers reserved seating and access to each of the dessert receptions. A $125 patron pass offers reserved seating to all eight films; and an invitation to the Real Russ and Daughters Brunch. Tickets can be purchased online at www.jfedsrq.org/jff or by calling 941-552-6304. For more information about The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, call 941-371-4546 or visit www.jfedsrq.org.
The films were selected by Roz Goldberg, chair of the Milman-Kover Jewish Film Festival, and her committee members, Karen Bernstein, Roberta Berson, Fran Braverman, Jack Braverman, Marsha Eisenberg, Gloria Feibus, Marsha Frank, Barbara Horowitz, Barbara Jacob, Susan Newmark, Ronnie Riceberg, Nadia Ritter, Lois Stulberg, Evans Tilles, Janet Tolbert, and Frank Tucciarone.
Special guests and events include an appearance by Theodore Bikel, one of the most versatile actors of his generation, in conjunction with the southwest Florida premiere of his new documentary, “Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem.” Bikel will introduce this opening night film, answer questions from the audience afterward, and even inspire with a few songs. Tickets for the movie and a dessert reception are $25. (March 8, 6:30 p.m., at Hyatt Regency Sarasota, 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota.)
Another special event is an authentic Real Russ and Daughters Brunch, following the movie “The Sturgeon Queens,” a documentary about Russ and Daughters, a culinary staple on Houston Street on New York’s Lower East Side for 100 years. The brunch will feature foods from the famous “appetizing store,” including nova, sable, herring, whitefish, and all the trimmings—including rugalach and babka—direct from Russ and Daughters. Tickets for the brunch are $25; a separate movie ticket can be purchased for $10. Seating for the brunch is subject to a wait list. (March 15, 1 p.m., at The Devyn, 7113 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. The brunch follows the movie, which screens at noon.)
In addition, Israeli director and screenwriter Dani Menkin will introduce the southwest Florida premiere of his new film, “Is That You?,” a tender feature about a newly unemployed 60-year old Israeli man who comes to America to find his long-lost love. Past JFF filmgoers will remember Menkin from his documentary, “Dolphin Boy,” which received unanimous audience acclaim at the 2012 Jewish Film Festival. After the screening, Menkin will talk about his new film and how he came to write it, and greet guests at a post-screening reception. (March 15, 6:30 p.m., at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, 582 McIntosh Road, Sarasota. A Q&A and dessert reception to follow. March 16, 3 p.m., at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, 582 McIntosh Road, Sarasota. Q&A to follow.
Goldberg says that audiences, “can expect to experience eight outstanding new films that explore, record, and celebrate Jewish life and experience—past and present. Each film was carefully chosen for its quality and diversity—and for its ability to excite, delight, enlighten, provoke, and/or move its viewers to tears or to laughter.”
Film Days and Times:
Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem: An enchanting documentary that weaves together the stories of two beloved Jewish icons: Sholom Aleichem, the renowned Jewish storyteller whose prose portrays the soul of the tragicomic Jewish shtetl, and Theodore Bikel, the legendary actor, singer, troubadour, Jewish activist, and interpreter par excellence of the stories of Aleichem. Bikel’s numerous stage, film, and television credits include “Fiddler on the Roof” and “The Sound of Music,” and his recorded collections of folk songs in both Hebrew and Yiddish hold a unique place in Jewish music libraries. Using vintage film, interviews with celebrities, including Aleichem’s 102-year-old granddaughter, author Bel Kaufman, and footage of Bikel performances, this film illuminates the lives of both Aleichem and Bikel. It was an official selection at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, where Bikel received the “Freedom of Expression Award” in recognition of his lifelong commitment to human rights and civil rights. March 8, 6:30 p.m. Hyatt Regency Sarasota, 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota. Q & A with Theodore Bikel and dessert reception to follow. March 10, 3 p.m. at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, 582 McIntosh Road, Sarasota
Hunting Elephants: A 12-year old Israeli boy named Jonathon is dealt a cruel double blow: his father dies in a freak accident while working at a local bank, and the bank refuses to provide any compensation to the family. Pushed to the financial brink, Jonathan decides that he wants revenge—and money—and enlists a team of unlikely senior citizens to help him rob the bank, including his grandfather and a penniless English lord played by Sir Patrick Stewart. March 9, 7 p.m. at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, 582 McIntosh Road, Sarasota; and March 11, 7 p.m., at Temple Beth Israel, 567 Bay Isles Road, Longboat Key.
God’s Slave: A powerful drama about how terrorists are made, not born, by those who live to hate. Based on the actual events of a 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires, this film follows Ahmed, a committed young Kuwaiti “martyr for Islam,” who has been trained since childhood as a sleeper terrorist. Living in Caracas, Ahmed has become a successful and compassionate surgeon, with a loving wife and young son—but destiny demands that he respond when called upon to carry out a terrorist attack. Working day and night to prevent such an attack is David, an embittered Mossad agent in Buenos Aires. “God’s Slave” is a pulse-pounding and deeply emotional thriller that pits two determined men against one another and culminating in violent, if unexpected, consequences. Won the Nueva Vision Award at its premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and top awards at the Palm Beach Festival. An official selection at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. March 9, 3 p.m., at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, 582 McIntosh Road, Sarasota (with discussion to follow); and March 10, 7 p.m., at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, 582 McIntosh Road, Sarasota (with discussion to follow).
The Sturgeon Queens: A charming documentary about the most famous appetizing store in the world, Russ and Daughters, a staple on Houston Street on New York’s Lower East Side for 100 years. Live wires 92-year-old Anne Russ Federman and 100-year old Hattie Russ Gold, the “daughters” in the store’s name, reflect on four generations of the Jewish immigrant family that created and continue to run Russ and Daughters. Devoted customers, including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Calvin Trillin, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mario Batali, and Morley Safer, all share memories. Sunday, March 15, noon, at The Devyn, 7113 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. A “Russ and Daughters Brunch” to follow; tickets for the brunch must be purchased separately.
Under the Same Sun: A contemporary parable set in the near future about two businessmen—one Israeli and one Palestinian—who struggle to build a solar energy company together against the odds. Since both men come from societies where there is strong opposition to cooperating with the other side, these men of good will must overcome enormous obstacles, including the hostility of those around them, while uniting an ever-expanding group of people who support their goal. Although they set out to make money, they end up accomplishing something much more important. The film was made by an award-winning Israeli producer, Amir Harel, and a prominent Palestinian director, Sameh Zoabi, and released as a simulcast on both Israeli and Palestinian TV networks in October. Shown at the Woodstock Film Festival, the Palm Springs Film Festival, the Other Israel Film Festival, and the Montpelier Mediterranean Film Festival in France. March 11, 12:30 p.m., at Lakewood Ranch Cinemas, 10715 Rodeo Drive, Lakewood Ranch (with discussion to follow); and March 12, 7 p.m., at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, 582 McIntosh Road, Sarasota (with discussion to follow).
Kidon: A twists-and-turns caper film involving the murder of a terrorist, allegedly by the Mossad, except that the Mossad knows nothing about it. On the morning of February 18, 2010, the whole world wakes up to discover security camera footage of the four alleged Mossad agents suspected of killing Mahmoud al Mabhouh in Dubai a month earlier. The story shocks the world—but no one is as surprised as the Mossad itself, which claims not to recognize any of the faces caught on camera. From then on, a race against time is undertaken to figure out why everything seems upside down. This action–packed film, based on real-life events and starring Sasson Gabay and Bar Rafaeli, brings this tumultuous story to life with humor and suspense. March 9, 7 p.m., at Temple Sinai,4631 S. Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota (with discussion to follow); and March 11, 7 p.m., at Lakewood Ranch Cinemas, 10715 Rodeo Drive, Lakewood Ranch (with discussion to follow).
Operation Sunflower: A compelling human, political, and scientific drama about Israel’s decision to develop a nuclear option in the 1950s-60s. Against the backdrop of a threatened Iranian missile attack, a drama is reconstructed that took place in Jerusalem and Paris 60 years earlier: Ben Gurion gives an order to the head of Mossad to develop a nuclear option to protect the Jewish people from future Hitlers—a mission that seems totally impossible at the outset. How this mission was pursued, despite the soul-searching of those involved, and the lack of technical and scientific expertise, is both exciting and inspiring. March 12, 3 p.m., at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, 582 McIntosh Road, Sarasota (with discussion to follow); and March 16, 7 p.m., The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, 582 McIntosh Road, Sarasota (with discussion to follow).
Is That You? A tender, romantic comedy about a newly unemployed, 60-year-old Israeli man who comes to America to find his long-lost love. After being fired from his job, and with no real prospects for the future, Ronnie decides to look back to the past—to seek the lost love of his youth, Rachel. Accompanying him on his journey to upstate New York is an unlikely partner, a young American film student who is working on a documentary about “regrets.” This touching film starts with an individual quest to recapture what was lost—but becomes a wider commentary on the “what-ifs” of life, with vignettes that are poignant and funny in equal measure. Written and directed by Dani Menkin. Nominated for Best Picture at the Israeli Academy (Ophir) Awards 2014; An official selection at the Montreal World Film Festival. March 15, 6:30 p.m., at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, 582 McIntosh Road, Sarasota. Q&A with Dani Menkin and dessert reception to follow. March 16, 3 p.m., at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, 582 McIntosh Road, Sarasota. Q&A with Dani Menkin to follow.
About The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee
The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to save Jewish lives and enhance Jewish life in the Sarasota-Manatee region, in Israel, and throughout the world. In addition, the Federation is responsive when worldwide catastrophes occur. For more information, call 941-371-4546 or visit www.jfedsrq.org.