Jews from Austria to Hollywood in Jewish Film Fest, this Hanukkah

Hanukkah beckons, and along with candlelighting, latkes and jelly doughnuts, there’s the annual Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival hosted by the Jerusalem Cinematheque.

The art-house theater is celebrating the 21st year of the festival, with 60 different films showing, from December 19 through December 26. The films cover a wide array of Jewish subjects, from identity, beliefs, and lifestyle to history, memory, culture, and the Shoah, as well as life in Israel.

The festival opens December 19 with “The Specials,” the latest film from French-Jewish directors Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, telling the heart-wrenching story of two men’s efforts to help severely autistic kids, who fell between the cracks in the French social services system. The film closed the Cannes Film Festival last summer and will be released to Lev theaters throughout Israel, on January 9, 2020.

Terrence Malick’s new film, “A Hidden Life,” will also be shown at the festival, portraying the difficult, touching story of an Austrian farmer who refuses to fight for Hitler during World War II.

Another film relating to the Holocaust is German director Caroline Link’s “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit,” based on the award-winning book by Judith Kerr, and loosely based on her own life as a child refugee, fleeing Germany with her family. The film, in German with Hebrew subtitles, will close the festival.

Roman Polanski’s latest film, “An Officer and a Spy,” will also be screened at the festival.

There are films about music, “It Must Schwing! The Blue Note Story, about the legendary New York City music label that gave voice to some of the world’s greatest jazz legends.

The documentary “Barbara Rubin & The Exploding NY Underground” presents female director Barbara Rubin’s role as a muse and channel to Kabbalah for ’60s luminaries, such as Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan.

In addition to an array of films about famous Jews (Lauren Bacall, Isaiah Berlin, Joseph Pulitzer) comes the long-awaited documentary, “Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of Harvey Weinstein,” the disturbing BBC film about the Hollywood producer and the sexual assault allegations against him.

“Breaking Bread” is director Beth Elise Hawk’s fascinating documentary featuring Dr. Nof Atamna-Ismaeel, the first Arab to win Israel’s “Master Chef,” in a film that talks about food, peace, and people, bringing the food and faces of those efforts to the screen.

Settle back in your seats for an entertaining watch of “The Last Resort,” a borscht belt look at what was once the largest ingathering of Jewish retirees, in South Beach, Florida.

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