By Ingrid Sanora
Feb. 8 through the 22 marks the 19th Annual Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival (GPJFF). The GPJFF gives people in the area the opportunity to view a variety of different movies, which reflect the Jewish culture. “We have a variety of films from comedies to documentaries; dramas to romances. The films explore Jewish life, culture and tradition. Since the films are international in scope, they depict a variety of experiences and viewpoints,” said Bob Segelbaum, the Executive Director of the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival. The film festival is being hosted by the Camelview 5 Harkins Theatre in Scottsdale. Two other locations are showing films for this event, which are at the Harkins Arrowhead 18 in Peoria and the Harkins Chandler Fashion 20 in Chandler.
Feb. 15, singer, actor and musician, Theodore Bikel, who has done productions such as “The Sound of Music” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” will be receiving the GPJFF’s inaugural Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award. After the valley premiere of his movie he will accept the award in person at the Harkins Camelview 5 in Scottsdale.
The thirteen films being shown this year are: “Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem,” “24 Days,” “Above and Beyond,” “It Happened In Saint-Tropez,” “Quality Balls: The David Steinberg Story,” “Bethlehem,” “God’s Slave,” “For a Woman,” “The Last Mentsch,” “Closed Season,” “Run Boy Run,” “5 to 7,” and “Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love.” The films chosen for this event weren’t picked at random just because of some small Jewish aspect of it. “The basic criteria in the selection of a film is that it be a fresh, new film with a Jewish theme or connection. It has to be more than the mere fact that the director or producer or actor is Jewish. We try to get the best films available that would be enjoyed by our guests. We try to get a mixture of documentaries, dramas, romances, and comedies. Films are selected from all over the world; this year we have films from France, Germany, Israel, Argentina, Canada and the USA,” said Segelbaum.
After some films, there will be a guest speaker who will provide commentary for those films. “The guest speakers try to bring a perspective of the film to the audience, based on their professional and/or artistic experience. In some years we may have a film director who provides insight into the reason why and how the film was made. The speakers also take questions from the audience which, hopefully, adds to the audiences enjoyment and understanding of the film.” Some of the guest speakers will be Theodore Bikel, Miriam Weisman and Craig Weiss.
For students, the event holds a free showing of a film just for students. The film selected for this year, is “Dancing in Jaffa,” a documentary about the acclaimed ballroom dancer, Pierre Dulaine and how he went back to his birthplace in Jaffa to teach Jew and Palestinian Israelis to dance together. It will be shown Sunday, Feb. 8, at 10 a.m. at the Harkins Camelview 5 in Scottsdale.
This event is something the Jewish Community takes pride in. It has the capability to bring awareness to a much broader audience. For tickets and more information feel free to call 602-753-9366 or visit www.gpjff.org.