Rutgers Jewish Film Festival goes virtual this November

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Tickets are now on sale for the 21st annual Rutgers Jewish Film Festival, which will be presented entirely online from Nov. 8 through 22. This year’s festival features a curated slate of award-winning dramatic and documentary films from Israel, the United States and Germany that explore and illuminate Jewish history, culture and identity. The virtual festival offers a user-friendly platform that will make it easy to view inspiring and entertaining films from the comfort and safety of one’s home. Many films will also include a question-and-answer component with filmmakers, scholars and special guests via Zoom. The festival is sponsored by Rutgers’ Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life and is made possible by a generous grant from the Karma Foundation. 

The festival kicks off Sunday, Nov. 8, with the opening film “Aulcie,” the inspiring story of basketball legend Aulcie Perry. A Newark native turned Israeli citizen, Perry put Israel on the map as a member of the Maccabi Tel Aviv team in the 1970s. Opening night will feature a question-and-answer session with Dani Menkin, director of this new documentary film, at 5:30 p.m. Sponsors of the festival are invited to a private cocktail reception prior to the question-and-answer session.

The festival will feature several New Jersey premieres. The Israeli documentary “Angelica,” which explores the tragic relationship between the artist Boris Schatz, who founded the Israel Museum, and his secret daughter, will include a question-and-answer session with the film’s director, Daniel Peer, who is also Angelica’s great-grandson. The Israeli romantic comedy “Honeymood,” which premiered to great acclaim at the Tribeca Film Festival this year, takes the newly married couple on a hilarious and moving one-night odyssey through the streets of Jerusalem. “My Name is Sara,” a riveting drama based on a true story, follows a 13-year-old Polish Jewish girl who escapes to the Ukrainian countryside and must manage to survive after her family is killed by Nazis during World War II.

The festival will feature discussions with filmmakers and special guests who enrich and enhance the way the audience encounters the films. Erez Tadmor, director of the heartwarming Israeli dramedy “The Art of Waiting,” will speak from personal experience on the sensitive topic of modern pregnancy. The film was nominated for four Israeli Academy Awards, including Best Director. Chef Einat Admony, aka Balaboosta, will engage with director Beth Elise Hawk about her delicious documentary “Breaking Bread,” which follows the culinary journeys and collaborations of Arab and Jewish chefs at the annual A-Sham Food Festival in Haifa. Codirectors Amy Geller and Gerald Peary will discuss their documentary “The Rabbi Goes West,” featuring a Brooklyn rabbi who ventures to Montana with his family, setting up the first Chabad Center in the state.

Oscar-winning German filmmaker Caroline Link will be the guest speaker for a special event featuring two of her films that focus on refugees. Her award-winning 2019 dramatic film “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit” centers on a German-Jewish girl who is taking her first steps into adulthood at the same time as world events intrude on her happy, carefree existence. This family drama is based on Judith Kerr’s semi-autobiographical bestselling children’s novel. “Nowhere in Africa,” Link’s 2002 Academy Award-winning film, follows a Jewish family in Kenya who fled Germany, and is a returning festival favorite.

For ticket information, speaker schedule and instructions on the new virtual format, visit the website BildnerCenter.Rutgers.edu/film. Festival staff can also be reached by email at rujff@sas.rutgers.edu. This year, all tickets for individual films are $10. An all-access pass is available for $90.

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