Festival features premieres of Jewish films

Critic's Choice: Film

March 24, 2002|By Michael Sragow

Every film is a Baltimore premiere at the 14th Annual Jewish Film Festival, and every screening will feature speakers and guests involved with the movies or their subject matter.

Based at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts (3506 Gwynnbrook Ave., Owings Mills), the event kicks off Saturday, April 6, at 8:30 p.m., with the French film I Am Alive and I Love You, a true story of a railroad worker taking in a Holocaust victim's son. On Tuesday, April 9, at 7:30 p.m., another Holocaust film will premiere: The Optimists, an Israeli / American documentary explaining the survival of 50,000 Bulgarian Jews. (The director, Jack Comforty, will attend.)

On Sunday, April 14, at 7 p.m., the festival showcases the Israeli Academy Awards' Best Picture of 2000: Time of Favor, a Jerusalem-based political thriller pivoting on the men in an Orthodox combat unit.

The first of two Czech productions, Hanele, about a Ukrainian woman with Hasidic roots who, in the 1930s, considers marrying an urban secular Jew, screens Saturday, April 20, at 8:45 p.m. The second Czech feature, Spring of Life (Thursday, April 25, at 7:30 p.m.), explores the German SS's attempt to breed a master race.

In between, on Sunday, April 21, at 3 p.m., comes the Israeli documentary The Komediant, which chronicles the Bursteins -- "the Von Trapp family of the Yiddish / American theater!" (Troupe actress Lillian Lux and Sun TV critic David Zurawik are the guest speakers.)

The festival closes on Sunday, April 27, at 8:45 p.m., with Jason Alexander's Just Looking, a coming-of-age comedy set in the Bronx circa 1955, with Gretchen Mol and Patti Lupone among the players who bring to life the script by festival guest Marshall Karp.

Admission for each film is $7; tickets are available in advance at the Weinberg Park Heights and Rosenbloom Owings Mills Jewish Community Centers, or at the Gordon box office a half-hour before show time. Call 410-542-4900, extension 329.

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