Friday, February 6, 2009

Phoenix Jewish Film Festival News: "Film Festival Marks Milestone"

Reprinted with Permission from the:

Jewish News of Greater Phoenix

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Film festival marks milestone
Local Jewish series celebrates 13 years of cinema

Special Sections Editor

The Phoenix Jewish Film Festival turns 13 this year, and as with any bar or bat mitzvah celebration, there’s a lot going on.

“Because it’s our bar mitzvah year, we wanted to do some things we’ve never done before,” says Roni Zee, artistic director of the festival.

One new attraction is the 15-minute festival trailer, a collection of scenes from this year’s film selections, which will debut at the opening gala, held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, at Congregation Beth Israel. The trailer will precede a screening of “The Little Traitor,” a film based on an Amos Oz novel about a young boy who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a British officer in the months before the creation of the State of Israel. The trailer will also be shown before the Sunday and Monday screenings.

Another new event is the closing night party, which will be held Thursday, Feb. 12, at Caf├ęPino in Scottsdale, after a showing of “Noodle” at Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theatres. “Noodle” is a comic drama about an El Al flight attendant who gets stuck with her Asian cleaning woman’s young son after the maid is deported. The film is in Hebrew and Mandarin with English subtitles.
This marks the last year of the Phoenix Jewish Film Festival in its present incarnation, as it will merge with the East Valley Jewish Film Festival in 2010.

“I feel sad, because it’s comfortable the way it is,” Zee says. “The Piersons (Phyllis and Sheldon, founders of the festival) have given us a festival that is 13 years long and strong.”

But she looks forward to the combined power of the new festival and its ability to reach the community.

“We want to get this feeling of the richness of Jewish culture out into the community in a broader way, and by being a larger film festival, we’ll be able to do that.

“We feel there’s the enormous potential out there of people who are not affiliated, and so we want to try to reach the nonaffiliated audience as well. For a lot of people who are not affiliated, going to a Jewish event is how they touch their Jewishness.”

All films except for the opening and closing night events cost $9 for adults, $5 for students, and will be shown at Harkins Camelview 5 Theatres, 7001 E. Highland Ave., Scottsdale. Call (888) 772-8611 for tickets, 602-953-3772 for information, or visit

The other selections of the 2009 Phoenix Jewish Film Festival are:

‘Constantine’s Sword’
11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8
Special speaker: Dr. Frank Shirvinski of Chaparral Christian Church
The 2007 documentary “Constantine’s Sword” stars writer and former priest James P. Carroll. The film is derived from Carroll’s 2001 book of the same name, which examines the Catholic Church’s history of anti-Semitism that, according to Carroll’s argument, paved the way for the Holocaust.

‘The Secrets’
7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8
A young Orthodox woman persuades her father to postpone her marriage so that she may study at a Jewish seminary in Safed. But when she and another student meet a mysterious French woman, they begin a risky journey toward new horizons. In English, French and Hebrew with English subtitles.

‘Out of Sight’
7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 9
Pre-show short film: “The Kiddush Man”
In this thriller, a blind Israeli woman studying at Princeton learns of her cousin’s suicide back in Israel. When she comes home to sit shiva with the family, she discovers that her cousin was not all she appeared to be. In Hebrew with English subtitles.

‘Steal a Pencil for Me’
7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10
This documentary tells the story of Ina Soep and Jaap Polak, Dutch Jews who met and fell in love in Amsterdam before being deported to a concentration camp, along with Polak’s wife. The couple began writing love letters to express their feelings in secret. After their liberation and Polak’s subsequent divorce, the couple married. In English and Dutch with English subtitles.

‘Facing Windows’
7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11
A troubled couple find their existence upended when they cross paths with an elderly man suffering from amnesia. However, their attempts to help the mysterious man lead them into larger problems in the form of an attractive neighbor. In Italian with English subtitles.


What: Phoenix Jewish Film Festival opening gala and screening of “The Little Traitor”
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7
Where: Congregation Beth Israel, 10460 N. 56th St., Scottsdale
Cost: $30, including dessert buffet and live entertainment
Contact: (888) 772-8611 for tickets, 602-953-3772 for info

What: Phoenix Jewish Film Festival closing party and screening of “Noodle”
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12
Where: Screening: Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theatres, 7000 E. Mayo Blvd.; party, Caf├ęPino, next door to theater
Cost: $13
Contact: (888) 772-8611 for tickets, 602-953-3772 for info
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