On January 16 – February 11, the 2014 Jewish Film Festival will come into action at the Regal Cinema Bell Tower.
The Jewish Film Festival of Southwest Florida is held annually in early winter and runs for four weeks. Offering a rare opportunity to view high caliber independent movies created by Jewish filmmakers, the festival brings together varied contemporary selections that will transport and immerse you in an impressive lineup of features, documentaries and shorts regarding Israeli or Jewish themes.
This year, the festival will encompass everything from films on the history of the eponymous Jewish celebratory song Hava Nagila to Hannah Arendt’s response to the 1961 trial of ex-Nazi Adolf Eichmann, which she covered for The New Yorker.
One of this season’s films, Dorfman In Love, tells the story of a young single suburbanite unknowingly trapped in her role as caretaker of her unappreciative family, who desperately needs to get her own life. When she volunteers to cat sit at her unrequited love’s downtown L.A. loft, her world, as she knows it, changes forever. In several days, she meets another man who appreciates her and she not only transforms the mess of a loft, but also transforms the mess of herself. This journey of self-discovery leads to her finding true love.
The film is the vision and screenplay of Wendy Kout, a San Fernando Valley girl who says the idea for the film came after a friend invited her to lunch to celebrate his just purchased loft in downtown Los Angeles.
“My perception of downtown was that it was a scary and desolate place and was I wrong!” Kout says. “I ran into Leonard Hill, who had produced my first television pilot and gone on to produce over 50 TV movies. Len explained how he had left TV production and become a developer and then gave me a tour of the Los Angeles block he had reimagined and restored.”
Kout goes on to explain that after seeing the stunning place downtown had turned into, she told him, “We not only have the capacity to change our city centers and buildings, we have the capacity to also change ourselves. What a rich backdrop and theme for a film.”
“You write it and I’ll produce it”, he immediately replied. And that is what they did.
Len went on to produce and invest in the film, and develop something they call unique in its narrative and its approach. The movie was a constant evolution and a collage of diversity, but most importantly it was visually entertaining and a colorful story.
“I’ve loved the magic of films since childhood, but didn’t explore filmmaking as a possible career until studying at UCLA where I took film history and appreciation courses and studied screenwriting,” she adds. “Films have the power to entertain, educate, elevate and motivate personal and political change, and that is compelling.”
When asked about what Dorfman will add to this year’s Jewish Film Festival, Kout says, “The response to the film has always been, ‘Thank you for making us laugh.’ To survive as a minority people, we Jews had our humor. Our capacity to laugh at ourselves and at life is part of our heritage as well our tears. Dorfman in Love, a contemporary comedy with a young Jewish woman lead, can add diversity to an otherwise serious slate of historical and political films.”
In striking contrast is the film The Other Son. This thoughtful and powerful film directed by Lorraine Lévy is a drama about a boy named Joseph that as he prepares to join the Israeli army discovers he is not his parents’ biological son, but that he was inadvertently switched at birth with the son of a Palestinian family in the West Bank. The revelation turns the lives of these two families upside down, forcing them to reassess their respective identities, their values and their beliefs.
“I worked hard for it not to be a political film but an ideological film,” the French director explained to the NY Press. “It’s constructed like a geopolitical fairy tale. I wanted to show something that could have happened in reality, but it’s not as though it’s a documentary. I was looking for a story with a strong dramatic structure about coming together, a quest for identity. These are two brothers who are by definition enemies but who manage to join together, to make a pact with each other in mutual existence.”
Lévy does a great job of putting forth a film that is cultural, humanistic and hopeful. She focuses on the family relationships and the human situations taking place within the touching drama.
“I am not a political person but what happens in Israel touches me very personally,” Lévy adds. “The question of identity is what interests me most. I address that because it is possible to be born again, and then born again elsewhere as you travel down the path that life takes you. It exposes you to other intellectual ideas, religions, and philosophies. You’re a different person from what you were in the beginning. You’re more of a whole being.”
Prior to the films being shown on Thursday, January 16th and Tuesday, February 11th,pre-film cocktail hours will be held at Crü from 5:45 – 6:45 pm, featuring light appetizers and a cash bar.
Festival subscriptions cost $68 for 8 of the films; individual film tickets cost $10. An additional family film, for children ages nine and older, is being shown on Sunday, January 26, 2014 at 10 am. Children are admitted free and adult tickets will cost $5. Seating is open at all films.
- The 2014 Jewish Film Festival is brought to the community by The Jewish Federation of Lee & Charlotte Counties. The festival will take place from January 16 – February 11, 2014 at 7:15 pm at the Regal Cinema Bell Tower located at 13499 Bell Tower Drive in Fort Myers. For tickets or more information, please call (239) 481-4449 ext. 3 or visit www.jewishfederationlcc.org.