Seattle Jewish Film Festival doesn’t skirt around issues

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, March 11, 2010 2:18pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Although there’s no “Fiddler on the Roof” sing-along event as there has been in previous years, the 15th annual Seattle Jewish Film Festival has the next best thing. But more on that later.

This wide-ranging, well-run festival, which doesn’t shy away from complex issues, officially opens Saturday night. Most of the events are divided between SIFF Cinema and the Cinerama theater.

Saturday’s opener is “Ajami,” which was nominated for the foreign-language Oscar this year (representing Israel). It didn’t win, but the nomination is enough to create advance interest in this study of a culturally diverse neighborhood in the city of Jaffa, a movie created by Jewish and Arab filmmakers working together.

The same city serves as the setting for another drama of the Arab-Israeli troubles, “Jaffa.” And “Seven Minutes in Heaven” looks at a Jerusalem woman’s recovery from her injuries at the hands of a suicide bomber.

The fest’s most prominent guest is director Michael Verhoeven, probably best known for his 1990 film “The Nasty Girl” (which he will discuss at a special screening). Verhoeven brings a recent documentary, “Human Failure,” and will be given the festival’s first “Reel Difference” Award.

“Human Failure” is a mesmerizing look back at a particular question raised in the aftermath of the Holocaust: When Jews were driven out or murdered by the Nazis, what became of all they left behind — the homes, the furniture, the keepsakes?

Verhoeven finds a uniquely queasy answer: Because of meticulous recordkeeping on the part of German authorities, many transactions involving those stolen things are preserved.

Documentaries offer some interesting profiles, a couple of which I previewed. “The Jazz Baroness” looks at a fascinating lady from the great age of bebop, Pannonica Rothschild (a member, albeit wayward, of the billionaire Rothschild family), who befriended and tended the erratic genius Thelonius Monk for many years.

Adding another layer to the saga is that “The Jazz Baroness” is directed by Hannah Rothschild, a relative of its subject. It’s a fine slice of music history — a particularly rich period in jazz.

“Where I Stand: The Hank Greenspun Story” tracks the career of the feisty publisher of the Las Vegas Sun — an apparently remote outpost that nevertheless allowed Greenspun to cross paths with Howard Hughes, Bugsy Siegel and Joseph McCarthy.

Oh, and he also ran arms to Israel in the late 1940s and ran afoul of the Watergate burglars. More than enough life to fill a feature-length movie.

The “Fiddler on the Roof” connection is a rare screening of a 1939 U.S. film, “Tevye,” which is based on the same Sholem Aleichem stories that produced the famed Broadway musical. This special brunch presentation will be preceded by food and klezmer music.

As though to lighten the generally serious tone of the festival, the March 21 closing night film brings in a comedy of considerable heft: “A Matter of Size” looks at a group of chunky Israelis who decide they will throw their weight behind sumo wrestling. It’s not exactly a cinematic breakthrough, but the fun idea has already resulted in a proposed Hollywood remake.

More information and the festival calendar can be browsed at SeattleJewish For tickets, call 206-324-9996.

Talk to us

More in Life

Josh Haazard Stands inside his workspace, the HaazLab, where he creates a variety of cosplay props and other creative gadgets, on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, at his home in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
This contraption crafter turns junk into sci-fi weaponry

Joshamee “The Chief” Haazard is a costume prop maker in Monroe. He transforms trash into treasure.

Shawn McQuiller of Kool & The Gang performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, on Sunday, May 8, 2022, in New Orleans. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Kool & The Gang and Average White Band are coming soon to a casino near you. Queensryche also is due in Arlington.

For your kids’ sake, stress less about their grades this school year

Don’t make a big deal over grades. Instead, encourage out-of-classroom activities and remember, learning is supposed to be fun.

At the prehistoric fortress of Dun Aengus, the dramatic west cliffs of Ireland meet the turbulent sea as Europe comes to an abrupt end. (Rick Steves' Europe)
Enjoy the simple life on Ireland’s starkly beautiful Aran Islands

Three limestone islands make up the Aran Islands: Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer.

American Queen changes COVID protocols; can I get a refund?

fter American Queen changes its COVID protocols, Patricia Voorhees Furlong and her husband want to skip their river cruise. Is that allowed? Or, will they lose out on $7,858?

Preston Brust, left, and Chris Lucas of LOCASH perform during CMA Fest 2022 on Thursday, June 8, 2022, at the Chevy Riverfront Stage in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

The country music duo Locash drops by the Angel of the Winds Casino on Saturday. And there’s the Summer Meltdown festival at its new home near Snohomish all weekend.

‘Poco Orange’ Red Hot Poker. (Terra Nova Nurseries)
Warmer weather means brighter, hotter colors in the garden

Here are seven plants that will bring a blazing pop of color to your outdoor spaces.

The 2022 Lexus GX has a 301-horsepower V8 engine, six-speed automatic transmission, and full time all-wheel drive. (Lexus)
Updated 2022 Lexus GX 460 expands list of standard features

Navigation and a 10.3-inch multimedia system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included.

Bruce Johnson has an exhibit on the history of clowns at the Lynnwood Library in Lynnwood, Washington on August 11, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Clown historian takes the funny business very seriously

Bruce Johnson, a.k.a “Charlie the Juggling Clown,” wants to pass his craft down to future generations.

Most Read