Winnipeg International Jewish Film Festival

Experience Jewish cinema at its best at the Winnipeg International Jewish Film Festival! Internationally acclaimed films representing the diversity of the Jewish experience are showcased during the annual film festival every spring. Presented by the Rady JCC with support from Asper Foundation Performances.

Many of this year’s films will have two viewings to accommodate more audiences (sold out early last year).

2017 Winnipeg International Jewish Film Festival Tickets Now On Sale

Download the full festival calendar HERE

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Films will be screened at the Berney Theatre. All foreign films are subtitled in English and subject to classification.

One Week and a Day

Shavua vet Yom

Israel, 2016, Hebrew with English subtitles, Director: Asaph Polonsky, 98 minutes

It’s the day after the Shiva (traditional mourning period) for their only son and mother Vicky is all for returning to normal life asap, but father Eyal (comedian Shai Avivi, known as “the Larry David of Israel”) is at a loss. After visiting his son’s hospital room and coming away with a bag of medicinal marijuana, Eyal lets his neighbour’s stoner son Zooler teach him how to roll a joint. Soon, the two

Soon, the two men — an odd couple if there ever was one — embark on a series of weed-enhanced encounters that run the gamut from hilariously funny to quietly introspective. Along the way, Polonsky offers cogent and funny insights into what mourning means for different people. Irreverent yet sensitive, Polonsky’s debut proves there are no rules when dealing with loss. Best Israeli Feature, Jerusalem Film Festival, 2016

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Aida’s Secrets

Canada/Israel, 2016, English/Hebrew with English subtitles, Director, Alon Schwarz, 90 minutes

Two brothers, Isak and Shepsel were born in the post-war chaos of the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp, but never told of each other’s existence. While Isak was sent away for adoption in Israel, his visually impaired brother Shepsel ended up in Winnipeg, Canada. With the help of an investigator, the siblings are reunited for the first time in 65 years, before traveling together to a Quebec nursing home to meet their elderly mother and uncover new revelations about Aida’s past life, including the identity of their biological father

Special Guests

Shep Shell (Winnipeg)

Izak Szewelewicz (Israel)

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Across the Waters

Fuglene over sundet

Denmark, 2016, Danish with English subtitles, Director: Nicolo Donato, 95 minutes

Unsure of whom they can trust, a Jewish musician and his family make a frantic escape from Nazi-occupied Denmark, in Across the Waters, a gripping story of survival and rescue. Enjoying the nightlife of 1943 Copenhagen, jazz guitarist Arne Itkin (David Dencik, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) is seemingly immune to the hardships of war, as the Danish government opts for a compliant relationship with Nazi Germany. He is initially skeptical when his terrified wife Miriam hears rumours of the round-up and deportation of Danish Jews.

An overnight raid, however, forces the couple to flee their home with five-year-old son Jakob. Aided by a church pastor and underground resistance, they set out on a journey for the fishing village of Gilleleje, where refugees await passage to Sweden by boat. Based on true events, Across the Waters is directed and co-written by Nicolo Donato, whose own grandfather was among the courageous Danish fisherman to ferry war refugees to safety.

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Ben-Gurion, Epilogue

Israel, 2016, Hebrew with English subtitles, Director: Yariv Mozer, 70 minutes

In the great depths of the archive, six hours of interview footage was discovered of one of modern history’s greatest leaders- David Ben-Gurion. It is 1968 and he is 82 years old, five years before his death. He lives in his secluded home in the desert, removed from all political discourse, which allows him a hindsight perspective on the Zionist enterprise.

David Ben-Gurion discusses and reflects on his personal health, his political legacy, the loss of his wife, and his desire for peace in the Middle East. Silent footage was also discovered unintentionally in the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive in Jerusalem, with the corresponding audio track later founding the Ben-Gurion Archives in Negev. The interview has been restored and is intercut with newsreels and archival materials, including images of Ben-Gurion’s simple kibbutz life, working farmland and taking daily walks. Ben-Gurion’s introspective soul searching is the focus of this film, and his clear voice provides a surprising vision for today’s crucial decisions and the future of Israel.

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Mr. Gaga

Germany/Israel/Netherlands/Sweden, 2015, English, Hebrew with English subtitles, Director: Tomer Heymann, 100 minutes

Ohad Naharin has spent the past 25 years pushing the boundaries of physical and political expression through the language of body movement. After serving in the Israeli Army as an entertainer, his career spanned several prestigious dance ensembles, culminating in his tenure as artistic director of the Tel Aviv-based Batsheva Dance Company. Abandoning the company’s old-style repertory, Naharin introduced non-traditional elements and edgier themes, while pioneering a singular choreographic style known as Gaga. The artistic vision and kinetic beauty that are the hallmarks of this cultural maverick

Abandoning the company’s old-style repertory, Naharin introduced non-traditional elements and edgier themes, while pioneering a singular choreographic style known as Gaga. The artistic vision and kinetic beauty that are the hallmarks of this cultural maverick

come alive through intimate rehearsal footage, extensive archival materials, and eye-popping performances. Interviews with dancers and key collaborators–admiring and blunt–confirm Naharin’s reputation as both prickly taskmaster and charismatic genius. Best Documentary, Sophia International Film Festival, 2016; Audience Award, South by Southwest Film Festival, 2016.

Guest Speaker: Brent Lott, Artistic Director, Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers

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Cloudy Sunday

Ouzeri Tsitsanis

Greece, 2016, Greek with English subtitles, Director: Manoussos Manoussakis, 118 minutes

The first film to ever speak about Thessaloniki’s Greek Sephardic community, of which 96% were executed in concentration camps during the Nazi regime. During the German occupation in 1943, in the second largest city in Greece, Thessaloniki, Estrea, a young Jewish girl, and Giorgos, the brother-in-law of famous composer Vassilis Tsitsanis, enter into a forbidden romance.

The main setting is centered on the ouzeri owned by then 28 year-old Tsitsanis, during the time when he had reached the height of his career as a composer. The film’s English title, Cloudy Sunday, references Tsitsanis’ beloved classic Synnefisameni Kyriaki, a song that is featured in the movie.

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Fanny’s Journey

Le Voyage de Fanny

France/Belgium, 2016, French with English subtitles, Director: Lola Doillon, 94 minutes

After her father is arrested in Paris, 13-year-old Fanny and her younger sisters are sent away to boarding school in France’s neutral zone. Shortly into their stay, the Jewish students are sent away to a new institution under the supervision of the tough but caring Madame Forman. Danger quickly approaches once again, and courageous and smart Fanny is burdened with the fate of the young children in Nazi occupied France. This coming- of- age drama follows Fanny as she leads the children on a journey through the countryside, braving an uncertain and risky mission to reach the Swiss border.  Critics Award Winner, Hamburg Film Festival, 2016. 

Presented in cooperation with Alliance Francaise du Manitoba

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Harmonia

Israel, 2016, Hebrew with English subtitles, Director: Ori Sivan, 98 minutes

Harmonia is a modern adaptation of the mythological triangle between the childless Abraham and Sarah and young Hagar. Sarah is the harpist of the Jerusalem Philharmonic; Abraham is its almighty conductor. When Hagar, a young horn player from East Jerusalem joins the Western Side Orchestra, she bonds with Sarah and a unique friendship evolves between the two women. Hagar, feeling Sarah’s pain from not having children, offers to have a baby for her from Abraham, shaking the thin balance in the family. The biblical adaptation later develops to an emotional clash between the son, Ben a 12 year old phenomenal pianist and his two mothers. Harmonia uncovers the metaphoric emotional roots of the ancient conflict between the two peoples living in Jerusalem, now seeking harmony through a dramatic encounter between Western and Eastern music.

Opening Night Film & Reception

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My Hero Brother

Ach Sheli Gibor

Israel/India, 2016, Hebrew with English subtitles, Director: Yonatan Nir, 78 minutes

A group of remarkable young people with Down Syndrome embarks on a demanding trip through the Indian Himalayas, accompanied by their “normal” brothers and sisters. Unresolved conflicts and the complexities of growing up with a Down Syndrome child in the family come to surface, while a heartwarming and special closeness develops among the siblings as they deal with formidable physical and emotional challenges.

The difficult trials and poignant relationships set against the richly colorful backdrop of India, open new horizons and greatly deepen our understanding of special needs people and their families. Jury Award and Audience Award, Santa Barbra International Film Festival, 2017.

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In Search of Israeli Cuisine

USA, 2015, English, Director:  Roger Sherman, 97 minutes

In Search of Israeli Cuisine is a portrait of the Israeli people told through food. It puts a literal face on the culture of Israel. It profiles chefs, home cooks, farmers, vintners, and cheese makers drawn from the more than 100 cultures that make up Israel today – Jewish, Arab, Muslim, Christian and Druze. A rich, complex and human story emerges as Israel’s culinary scene is about far more than falafel and hummus, boasting one of the most dynamic food scenes in the world with several delicious ethnic and regional dishes.

Israeli-American chef Michael Solomonov embraced the authentic flavors of Israel and won the James Beard award, and now he is returning to his homeland to rediscover his culinary heritage. From street food to some of Tel Aviv’s most exclusive restaurants, to the warmth of family kitchens, this film explores multi-cultural recipes and reinvented classics. It also delves into the fact that even food is not excluded from sectarian conflict, as Palestinian chefs bristle when their culinary secrets are adapted by Jewish chefs, and takes a look at the interesting stories behind the ingredients that Israel produces using techniques from both ancient farming and new technology.

Guest Speaker: Director, Roger Sherman

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Kind Words

Ha’milim ha’tovot

Israel/Canada, 2015, Hebrew, French with English Subtitles. Director: Shemi Zarhin, 118 minutes

Embittered and spiky-tempered restaurateur Dorona and her two very dissimilar brothers—the older an unsettled Orthodox father Netanel and the younger a bisexual bar owner Shai come together following the death of their mother who had concealed an illness.

The offspring receive a new bombshell when they learn that the man who raised them isn’t their biological father. This shock sets them on a quest across France to unravel their origins, rooted in their mother’s native Algiers. As they piece together the inscrutable secrets of their past, Dorona attempts to reconcile her strained relationship with her long-suffering husband Ricki while her brothers grapple with issues of familial religious and ethnic identity. Twelve nominations, Awards of the Israeli Film Academy, 2015.

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The Last Laugh

USA, 2016, English, Director: Ferne Pearlstein, 85 minutes

The world’s leading comedians debate the outer limits of comedy and individual taste in The Last Laugh, an exploration of the taboo topic of Holocaust humor and the consequences for free speech. Is a tragedy on the scale of the Holocaust ever an appropriate subject for comedy? Filmmaker Ferne Pearlstein puts the question to a pantheon of funny people, including Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Gilbert Gottfried, Sarah Silverman, Chris Rock and Harry Shearer, as well as Holocaust survivors and prominent Jewish leaders. Mixing levity with deeply philosophical themes, an intriguing conversation emerges over where to draw the line when it comes to jokes about the Holocaust and other so-called untouchable subjects.

Interviews are augmented with movie clips, comedic stage acts, as well as seized Nazi footage of cabarets performed by prisoners inside concentration camps. Star-studded, provocative and thoroughly entertaining, The Last Laugh dares to ask sensitive questions about the limits of subversive humor and censorship.

Launch of the Morley Blankstein Architectural Film Series

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Mendelsohn’s Incessant Visions

Chezionot bilti poskim

Germany/Israel, German, Hebrew with English subtitles, Director: Duki Dror, 71 minutes

This film shows the untold story of German architect Erich Mendelsohn, whose life and career were as mysterious and calamitous as the path of the century. He made sketches on very small pieces of paper and sent them from the trenches, to a young cellist, Louise, who waited for him in Berlin. She thought he was a genius, and after WWII she helped him build his career and become the most sought after architect in Germany. She eventually decided to leave him for a communist poet; but he built her the perfect house, designed fully by him; from the silverware to her gowns to the lake view living room. When the Nazis came to power, they were forced to escape the house and Germany forever. Erich and Louise Mendelsohn are always somewhere in the middle; between world wars, wandering continents, teetering between success and failure. The buildings that Erich built globally, marking the path of their journey together, have changed the history of architecture. This film is a beautiful interpretation based on Erich and Louise’s relationship, exploring an important chapter in the history and development of modern art.

Mendelsohn’s Incessant Visions is the debut film in the Morley Blankstein Architectural Film Series presented by the Rady JCC and the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation.  Morley Blankstein was a well-known architect, community leader and philanthropist.

Guest Speaker: Brent Bellamy, Senior Design Architect, Number Ten Architectural Group, Columnist, Winnipeg Free Press

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Moos

Netherlands, 2016, Dutch, with English sub-titles, Director: Job Gosschalk, 91 minutes

Our socially awkward heroine takes her first tentative steps toward independence and fulfilling a lifelong dream, in the Dutch romantic dramedy Moos. Ever since her mother’s death, Moos finds herself caught between caring for her grieving father and having a life of her own. Her father wants her to take over the family textile business in a tight-knit Jewish neighborhood of Amsterdam. Moos wants to become an actress, grabbing the opportunity to apply to respectable s performing arts academy.

When her audition fails, she settles for working at the school cafeteria, while taking private singing lessons. Romantic entanglements develop with her handsome vocal teacher complicated by feelings for childhood best friend Sam who has returned home from service in the Israeli army. Balancing her family’s low expectations of her against her own pride and determination to make something of herself, Moos reveals an inner strength few suspected she possessed. Suffused with warmth and brimming with beguiling characters, director Job Gosschalk’s heartwarming charmer portrays a heroine’s quest to find her own uniquely beautiful voice.

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On the Map

Israel, USA, 2016 English, Hebrew with English subtitles, Directors: Dani Menkin, 85 minutes

An unforgettable upset victory by the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team against a Cold War adversary is exhilaratingly recounted in On the Map.  Demoralized by the Yom Kippur War, the Munich Massacre and its slumping economy, Israel was hungry for a collective triumph as it pursued the 1977 European Championship Tournament. Facing impossible odds, the underdog Maccabi Tel Aviv team, comprised of Israeli players and NBA also –rans, is matched up against the powerhouse Soviets in the semi-finals.  In a

In a David & Goliath battle, the Israelis topple the four -time defending Soviet champs and in doing so, rally a nation. The so-called “Miracle on the Hardwood is thrillingly related by team captain and Israeli basketball hero Tal Brody, NBA great Bill Walton, former NBA Commissioner David Stern and former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, along with other observers from the sports and political worlds. Offering a courtside seat to the pulse-pounding action, On the Map celebrates a watershed movement of glory that many Israeli still regard as their nations’ greatest sports achievements.

Special Guest: Director: Dani Menkin

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Past Life

Ha’Khataim

Israel/Poland, 2016, Hebrew, German, Polish with English subtitles, Director: Avi Nesher, 109 minutes

Inspired by true events, Past Life follows the bold 1977 trans-European journey of two sisters –one a withdrawn and ambitious classical musician, the other a confrontational, liberal magazine editor. As they try to disentangle a disturbing wartime mystery that has cast an enormous shadow on their entire lives, they realize that freedom for the shackles of the past requires painful sacrifices, as does the  struggles to discover one’s unique voice.  Acclaimed filmmaker Avi Nesher (Turn Left at the End of the World, the Matchmaker) directed from his own screenplay.

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The Pickle Recipe

USA, 2016, English, Director: Michael Manasseri, 98 minutes

Joey Miller is the undisputed king of the Detroit party emcees. He’s also a single father and deeply in debt. To make matters worse, during his latest one-of-a-kind wedding performances, all of his prized sound equipment gets destroyed in a freak accident. To add insult to injury, his daughter Julie’s Bat-Mitzvah is only weeks away and she’s counting on him to MC her party.  After exhausting all of his options,  he

After exhausting all of his options,  he turns to his shady Uncle Morty who agrees to give him the needed money to get back to into business. But only under one condition. Joey must go and steal his grandmother Rose’s most prized possession; her famous top secret dill pickle recipe. And it’s a recipe which she has vowed to take to her grave.

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Who’s Going to Love Me Now

Israel, /UK, 2016, Hebrew with English subtitles, Directors: Tomer and Barak Heymann, 84 minutes

The film follows Saar who grew up on a religious kibbutz in Israel and was asked to leave when he came out as gay. He fled to London where he started a new life but always longed to reconcile with his family. It’s a film about identity, love, and family. Saar is an HIV positive gay man living in London, where he found refuge from the religious kibbutz where he grew up in Israel. Ever since he was diagnosed with HIV, Saar has craved his family’s love, while they struggle with fears and prejudices. Saar and the rest of the London Gay Men’s Chorus provide a glorious soundtrack for this documentary about the power of forgiveness and the power that home has, no matter how far we go. Panorama Audience Award, Berlin Film Festival, 2016; Audience Award, Krakow Film Festival, 2016.

Presented in Cooperation with Pride Winnipeg

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Women’s Balcony

Ismach Hatani

Israel, 2016, Hebrew with English subtitles, Directors: Shlomit Nechama and Emil Ben-Shimon, 118 minutes.

Israel’s #1 film of the year! A dramedy about community, old traditions and the values and the power of women to keep all of these together in the face of modern extremism. An accident during a Bar-Mitzvah celebration leads to a gender rift in a devout Orthodox and easy-going Sephardic community in Jerusalem where a rousing good-hearted tale about women speaking truth about patriarchal power. When the “women’s balcony” in an Orthodox synagogue collapse leaving the Rabbi’s wife in a coma and the Rabbi in shock, the congregation falls into crisis. Charismatic young Rabbi David appears to be a savior after the accident but slowly starts pushing his fundamentalist ways and tries to take control. This test the women’s friendships and almost a Lysistrata-type rift between the community’s men and women

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1945

Hungary, 2017, Hungarian with English subtitles, Director: Ferenc Torok, 97 minutes.

This evocative drama is based on the acclaimed short story “Homecoming” by Gábor T.Szántó in which the dark history of a quaint village is exposed as it is forced to confront the dishonest gains it acquired during the Second World War. In the year 1945 on a stifling day in August, the people of the village get ready for the wedding of the town clerk’s son.

Two Orthodox Jews arrive at the village train station with suspicious boxes of “fragrances”. The town clerk suspects that the two men may be descendants of the village’s deported Jews, and believes that may ask for their illegally obtained goods back – the property originally lost during the Second World War. The villagers begin to fear that more survivors will arrive and pose a threat to the assets they have claimed as theirs since the war. Official Selection, Berlin International Film Festival 2017.  

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