Jewish International Film Festival Announces 2015 Lineup

The lineup for the Jewish International Film Festival has been announced, with Son of Saul and Sabena Hijacking – My Version to bookend the 58 features and documentaries. Click through to see a selection of films being showcased, as well as all the details you need to attend the screenings.

77:78 ON THE MAP                                                                  

Israel / 2015 / 78 min / Director:  Dani Menkin

1977 is a tough year for Israel. But amongst the tensions with Palestine and the resignation of Prime Minister Rabin, something unexpected happens: Maccabi Tel Aviv, a fairly average basketball team, managed to take on the rest of the world in the European Cup.  What began as a simple sporting event, became a triumphant symbol for Israel itself.

A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS                                                           

Israel / 2015 / 95 min / Director: Natalie Portman

Premiering in official selection at Cannes 2015, this is Natalie Portman’s much-anticipated directorial debut, in which she also stars as Fania, a Holocaust survivor (and mother of Amos Oz, one of Israel’s best-known writers) who struggles with the horrors of the past, whilst facing the challenges of the present.  Based on Oz’s best-selling memoir.

BY SIDNEY LUMET                                                                                

USA / 2015 / 103 min / Director: Nancy Buirski

In a never-before-seen interview recorded a few years before his death, legendary filmmaker Sidney Lumet guides us through his life and work – from his early years on the Yiddish stage to directing of some of cinema’s most enduring classics, including 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico and Network. With his typical candour, humour and grace, Lumet reveals what mattered to him as an artist and a human being.

CENSORED VOICES                                                                

Germany / 2015 / 84 min / Director:  Mor Loushy

One week after the 1967 Six-Day War, a group of young kibbutzniks, led by renowned author Amos Oz and Editor Avraham Shapira, recorded intimate conversations with soldiers returning from the battlefield. The Israeli army censored the recordings, allowing only a fragment of the conversations to be published. Censored Voices reveals these original recordings for the first time.  Winner of Best Documentary at the 2015 Ophir Awards (Israeli Oscars)


USA / 2015 / 90 min / Director: Michael Almereyda

In 1961, Yale University psychology professor Stanley Milgram was determined to discover how and why people could be pushed to extremes. The son of Holocaust survivors, he was driven to create the ‘obedience experiments’ which demonstrated to what lengths ordinary people might go, if commanded to by an authority figure. Branded a monster by the press, Milgram fought to prove to the world that ‘evil’ may not be what we thought.


Israel / 2014 / 98 min / Director:  Lee Gilat

13 year-old Aharon is an only child who is determined to carry the Torah scrolls on Simchat Tora and impress Alizia, the most popular girl in the neighbourhood. But the selection causes age-old tensions between his mother and father to surface. Torn between his parents’ conflicting wishes, Aharon finds himself under intense pressure that threatens to turn his triumph into disaster.


Israel / 2015 / 12 Episodes (approx. 35 minutes each) in total / Creators: Avi Issacharoff & Lior Raz

This tense, gripping show is the biggest Israeli TV hit of the year, showing all sides of the conflict from the Israeli soldiers to the Arab civilians caught up in the crossfire. Following in the footsteps of Homeland and In Treatment, Fauda is tipped to be the next Israeli series to be remade in America.  Binge-watch episodes at JIFF over 4 sessions or the marathon viewing of all 12 episodes on a Sunday!

FELIX AND MEIRA                                                             

Canada / 2014 / 105 min / Director: Maxime Giroux

Meira is a Hasidic wife and mother consumed by the strict rules of her society. Felix is an eccentric French-Canadian man mourning his wealthy father. When the two meet in a bakery, an unexpected friendship is born. It soon blossoms into something more as they open one another’s eyes to the possibilities that lie beyond their worlds. Trapped by tradition, Meira must decide whether to remain in the only life she’s ever known, or give it all up to be with Felix.  Canada’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2016 Oscars.

IMAGINARY FEASTS                                                    

France, Belgium / 2015 / 70 min / Director: Anne Georget

In the Nazi concentration camps, the Gulag and the Japanese war camps, prisoners would write hundreds of cooking recipes. These starving inmates, who would kill for a piece of bread, painstakingly wrote these recipes at great personal risk. These recipes became a universal act of resistance. This documentary explores the extraordinary moments in history that have never been studied before. Premiered at the Berlin Film Festival.

THE KIND WORDS                                

Israel, Canada / 2015 / 90 min / Director: Shemi Zarhin

When three siblings gather to mourn the death of their mother, they learn something very unexpected about the real identity of their father. Determined to discover the truth, these unlikely travelling companions embark on journey from Israel to Paris to find out more about themselves than they ever knew.  Nominated for the highest number of 2015 Ophir Awards (Israeli Oscars).

LABYRINTH OF LIES                                                        

Germany / 2014 / 124 min / Director: Giulio Ricciarelli

When Johann Radmann, an ambitious young lawyer in 1958 Frankfurt, discovers that many former Nazis have quietly reintegrated into German society, he begins seeking them out, building cases against these one-time war criminals. But it’s a tougher fight than he anticipates, as he experiences pushback from a country that simply wants to forget.  Germany’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2016 Oscars.

MY SHORTEST LOVE AFFAIR                                                        

France / 2015 / 78 min / Director: Karin Albou

Twenty years after their love affair, Louisa and Charles accidentally meet at a Parisian arts festival. After a night of drinking, the two reconnect and Louisa discovers she is pregnant. The two decide to raise the child together in this darkly comic film about second chances. Written and directed by the film’s star, Karin Albou (Little Jerusalem).


Australia / 2015 / 79 min / Dir: Marsha Emerman

Majid is an Iraqi-Australian determined to find the source of the music he grew up with. When he discovers the Jewish influence in Iraqi music, and its whitewashing from history, it sets him off on a journey from Australia to Israel, Europe and Iraq to meet musicians of all faiths and unite them in a concert for peace and reconciliation.  Winner of Best Documentary at the Baghdad International Film Festival.

POCKETS OF HOPE                                                          

Australia / 2015 / 113 min / Director:  Judy Menczel

Australian singer and activist Fay Sussman had vowed never to return to Poland. Overcoming her fear and anger, she went there and discovered a generation of Poles working to establish a new relationship with the Jewish community. Fay discovers that through her music, she can restore her culture to Poland and begin the journey of reconciliation.

THE POLGAR VARIANT                                                              

Israel / 2014 / 68 min / Director:  Yossi Aviram

László Polgár was a passionate man who believed that genius was something you could teach, and set out to prove it using his three daughters. Suzan, Sofi and Judit were kept from school and trained to become chess masters in communist-controlled Budapest of the 1970s. He taught them to beat not just their opponents, but all expectations. Official selection at the Jerusalem Film Festival.

SEED OF LIFE                                                                                              

Israel / 2014 / 77 min / Director: Tzipi Baider

Only hours after her son Keivan dies in battle, a woman realises that she can still give him a future. His sperm is harvested and frozen, and she sets about interviewing women who would carry her grandchild. Now, 11 years after his death, Keivan is about to become a father. A moving documentary of post-tragedy decisions and one family’s remarkable journey to hold onto life.


South Africa, USA / 2014 / 84 min / Director: Abby Ginzberg

As a young, white, Jewish man in South Africa, Albie Sachs was determined to help bring Apartheid to an end. A fierce advocate for equality, Sachs was subsequently jailed, put in solitary confinement, tortured, exiled, and the subject of an attempted assassination. When his friends promised to avenge him, Sachs resisted the idea: if we achieve true freedom and democracy, he said, that will be my soft vengeance.


SYDNEY: 28 October – 18 November, Event Cinemas, Bondi Junction

MELBOURNE: 4 – 29 November, Classic Cinemas, Elsternwick

PERTH: 31 October, 1 & 8 November Event Cinemas, Morley

NEW ZEALAND: 15 & 22 November, Academy Cinemas, Auckland

BRISBANE:  21, 22 & 29 November, New Farm Cinemas

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