July 21, 2024
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NJ Jewish Film Festival Goes Virtual

(Courtesy of JCC MetroWest) The director of the New Jersey Jewish Film Festival said enthusiasm and ticket sales were high when the pandemic forced the cancellation of the 20th annual event, which was to have taken place March 19-29 at JCC MetroWest in West Orange.

Now, Sarah Diamond said, there is renewed excitement as the landmark festival goes virtual. Throughout the summer, through August 9, 17 festival movies—many award-winning—will be available for home viewing. Each film will have a time-limited (two to three days) link, and several filmmakers and experts will lead scheduled discussions live on Zoom (most will be recorded for later viewing). The works include features and documentaries, dramas and comedies, from Israel, America, France, Hungary and other countries.

The centerpiece film is “The Spy Behind Home Plate” (July 10-12), a documentary on Morris “Moe” Berg, who started out in Newark, played in the Major Leagues and led a secret life as a spy during World War II. Award-winning director Aviva Kempner will take part in a discussion.

Festival films will open a lens on an Arab couple in Jaffa who shield three orphans, a fact-based feature on a Latvian worker who rescued Jews during the Holocaust and a documentary about a nonagenarian who tells her story of suffering and survival through dance. In the final film, “Crescendo” (Aug. 7-9), a renowned conductor strives to bring harmony to the discordant members of the Israeli-Palestinian youth orchestra he is forming.

Among the speakers will be Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Michael Rothfeld, coauthor of “The Fixers,” and Andrew Silow-Carroll, editor-in-chief of New York Jewish Week.

Diamond said she and the festival committee “are gratified that technology has allowed us to ‘save’ the 20th annual festival. We are already looking forward to embarking on the third decade of this outstanding community cultural touchstone.”

Instructions for viewing each film will be sent to sponsors and ticket holders. Those holding tickets to the few films that could not be converted to an online version may choose to see other films. Community members may still become sponsors, and a limited number of individual tickets are available.

Contact Diamond at [email protected] or visit jccmetrowest.org/njjff or Facebook.com/NJJFF.

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