Tag Archives: JIFF


Featured pic – A scene from this year’s opening night film Denial.

Denial,  a gripping drama based on one of the most fascinating courtroom battles in modern history, has been selected to open the 2016 Jewish International Film Festival across Australia.

Directed by Mick Jackson (The Bodyguard, L.A. Story) with a screenplay by David Hare (The Reader, The Hours), Denial stars Academy Award® winner Rachel Weisz as Professor Deborah Lipstadt who was sued for defamation by author and self-proclaimed historian, David Irving, played by Timothy Spall,  for being referenced as a ‘denier’ in Lipstadt’s book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. Aided by a first-class legal team, helmed by a brilliant, yet maverick barrister, Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson), Lipstadt was tasked with proving that the Holocaust did happen in order to discredit Irving and clear her name.  Denial, which had its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival, will screen courtesy of Entertainment One.

Approaching the Holocaust from a different perspective is The Last Laugh, a provocative documentary that will screen on Closing Night.  Director Fearne Pearlstein looks at taboos and comedy and in doing so asks ‘how far’ comedy should go when delving into tragedy.  Acknowledging that comedy can play a cathartic and ultimately healing role, this insightful film examines the issue via comedic titans such as Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner, Larry Charles, Sarah Silverman, Louis C.K., Chris Rock and the late Joan Rivers, along with survivors of the Holocaust including 91-year-old, Auschwitz survivor, Renee Firestone.

Complementing these two remarkable films will be 66 international premiere features and documentaries showcasing the cinema of 19 countries, including the globally fêted Israeli drama, Sand Storm, winner of Best Film and Best Director at the recent 2016 Ophir Awards (Israeli Academy Awards). This Ophir triumph automatically qualifies Sand Storm to be Israel’s submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2017 Academy Awards® and marks the first time that a film entirely in Arabic, rather than Hebrew, will represent Israel.

The Jewish International Film Festival (JIFF) will take place between Thursday 27 October and Wednesday 16 November at Event Cinemas, Bondi Junction.

Sydney Arts Guide has ten in season double passes to giveaway to the Festival. Be one of the first to email the Editor on editor.sydneyartsguide@gmail.com with JIFF competition in the subject heading.  Winners will be advised by email. Passes will be sent in the post so please provide a postal address. 



The Gett- minor
Viviane with her lawyer faces a harrowing time to finally win her freedom

It feels so good when filmmakers target issues within their societies which need to be scrutinised.

Ronit Elkabetz and Shlomi Elkabetz’s documentary film GETT, THE TRIAL OF VIVIANE AMSALEM is a prime example.

GETT, THE TRIAL OF VIVIAN AMSALEM charts the disturbing, even harrowing, journey of Israeli woman  Viviane Amsalem who after over ten years of marriage wants a Gett- the Hebrew  word for divorce. Under Jewish law in Israel, a divorce for a woman is no easy matter. She has to  get the consent of her husband and appear before a rabbinical court, with three Rabbis presiding, to have the application processed. Continue reading GETT, THE TRIAL OF VIVIANE AMSALEM @ EVENT CINEMAS BONDI JUNCTION

Holocaust Film Series @ Event Cinemas, Bondi Junction

Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal in conversation with filmmaker Inna Rogatch
Inset pic- Legendary Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal in conversation with filmmaker Inna Rogatch. Featured pic- The Gates to Hell- the gates to the Auschwitz concentration camp

In recognition of an overwhelmingly positive response to its inaugural season in 2014, the HOLOCAUST FILM SERIES, presented by the Jewish International Film Festival, returns to Melbourne and Sydney from 12 to 25 March.

Despite the austere title of this film series, the journey that this series invites audiences to embark on is not grim, but is one of courage, fascination and admiration for the people who have lived through some of modern history’s most challenging events. For it is only by facing the past and learning from their experiences, that we can continue to develop and appreciate the gift of life, whilst striving to banish the racial prejudice that still continues to motivate so many crimes.

The 2015 HOLOCAUST FILM SERIES is presenting 35 utterly compelling feature films, documentaries and shorts from around the world, all of which will be screening for the very first time in Australia, with no guarantee of repeat viewings beyond this film series. The eclectic range of stories showcased will enthrall, inform and give pause for reflection. Continue reading Holocaust Film Series @ Event Cinemas, Bondi Junction


Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy © Joe Skinner/Ghost Light FilmsPerformer David Hyde Pierce and pianist Andy Einhorn.
Performers David Hyde Pierce and pianist Andy Einhorn in

If you like musicals [and, really, who doesn’t], then a film showing at the Jewish International Film Festival called BROADWAY MUSICALS: A JEWISH LEGACY will certainly please you. This is simply because in it you will see and hear a parade of world-famous singers, ranging from Al Jolson and Ethel Merman to Lena Horne and Barbra Streisand, perform some of the most enduring songs of the 20th century, all of which were written by Jewish composers and lyricists, ranging from Jerome Kern and George Gershwin to Lerner and Lowe, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.

But, perhaps because of the capable direction of Michael Kantor, there is much more to this film than this. It has several points to make, and it makes them tellingly.

One is that a small group of Jewish composers produced a truly breath -taking body of work which was based so often on Jewish folk and synagogue melodies. Amazingly,almost every major composer of musicals was Jewish. Even one exception who springs to mind, the great Cole Porter, the film points out, was unsuccessful until he began writing, to use his own words, “Jewish music”.

The film also demonstrates how, at first, their musicals were about outsiders, as a metaphor for themselves[“My Fair Lady”,” Hello, Dolly!”], but then developed to focus on themes further removed, but still connected, to  Jewishness, such as race [“Showboat”, “South Pacific”] and anti-Semitism [“Cabaret”]. So mature did the music and lyrics then become that even Nazism [“The Producers”], homosexuality [“La Cage Aux Folles”] and faith itself [“Fiddler on the Roof”] could be, and were, explored.

 This film includes rare and delightful footage of Irving Berlin singing, Rogers and Hammerstein working together, and Mel Brooks speaking sensibly.

This is an intelligent documentary. The commentary is both clear and pertinent, thereby helping the viewer appreciate the creativity, and the risks taken, by a roll-call of gifted composers and lyricists who, between them, produced most of the great musicals of our time .Above all though-there is, throughout the entire film, the music itself, and, as the song goes-who could ask for anything more!

BROADWAY MUSICALS: A JEWISH LEGACY Is screening twice at the Festival on Thursday October 31 and November 9, 2013. For more information and bookings visit the Festival site on www.jiff.com.au.