Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Windsor's other film festival

Most people know about Windsor’s fall film festival – the Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF). Fewer are aware of Windsor’s second, and in fact, older, film festival, The 15TH Annual Ruth and Bernard Windsor Jewish Film Festival. The four-day event kicks off Monday, May 1, at Devonshire Cineplex Odeon and runs – with a daily schedule of films at 2, 5 and 8 pm - until Thursday.

The opening night film, 2015’s On the Map, is American director Dani Mankin’s documentary about one of the biggest sporting wins in Israeli history. Coming off a brutal period in the country’s history – Munich, The Yom Kippur War, the Entebbe hijacking – the film shows the story of how the Israeli basketball team won the European Cup. Even non-sports fans reportedly loved the suspence, which features historical figures like Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky and former NBA commissioner David Stern.

On Tuesday there are three films, two on a related subject – the cherished Jewish deli. One is The Last Blintz (Dori Berinstein, 2015) about the closing of yet another beloved NYC deli, Café Edison in the theatre district. The short film is followed by Julie Cohen’s 2014’s The Sturgeon Queens, about the still thriving Russ and Daughters NYC deli, with interviews with the famous daughters and customers including Morley Safer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg….Later, the drama Secrets of War (Dennis Bots, Netherlands and Belgium, 2014) depicts two pre-teens in occupied Holland, who become infatuated with a girl who turns out to be a Jew in hiding, the revelation leading to a chain of dramatic incidents…..At 8 pm, also from the Netherlands, Pieter Kuijpers’s 2016’s Riphagen: The Untouchable, the true story of a notorious Jew hunter in Amsterdam and one man’s struggle to bring him to justice.

On Wednesday, the first screening is Israeli director Miya Hatav’s Between Worlds (2016). In the aftermath of a terror attack, the divisions in Israeli society are embodied in a hospital ward, where social circumstances lead to some personal revelations…..Later at 5 pm, Germany’s Lars Kraume’s 2015’s The People vs Fritz Bauer, is the story of a crusading returned Jewish exile to Germany, a state official who hunts down Nazi war criminals, despite obstacles put in his way by the post-war German state…….The last film of the night is Lola Doillon 2016 Fanny’s Journey, about a young girl who is thrown into the position of leadership during the Nazi occupation when parents are separated from their children.

The final day beings us a Greek film, Cloudy Sunday (Manousos Manousakis, 2015), a true story about a Greek composer, and love between his brother and a Jewish girl, with great use of Revetika Greek folk music and an apparent cast of thousands….That’s followed by Sabena Hijacking: My Version (Rani Sa'ar, Israel, 2015), a docudrama about a little known 1972 hijacking that formed the response by Israeli authorities to numerous future hijacking and terrorist incidents.……Finally, the closing night film, the Israeli comedy The Women’s Balcony (Emil Ben-Shimon, 2016), gently exposes the tensions within Orthodox Judaism, women and men, and places of worship. 

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