26 March 2008

Chicago 2008: Film Festival

This year, the third edition of the Jewish Genealogy Film Festival will take place during the 28th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy (August 17-22, Chicago), as film festival coordinator Pamela Weisberger of Los Angeles continues her masterful work.

There will be talks on film themes, with producer and director introductions and Q&As. The complete schedule will be announced shortly. It will offer some 40 films covering genealogical, historical and cultural topics, and include documentaries, shorts, feature films and filmmaker appearances.

Previously, screenings were restricted to conference registrants only attendees, but this year there's a registration option (daily, weekly) for spouses and friends who may be film buffs but don't share our all-consuming genealogical interests. The option is also available for Chicago residents and students. For more information, click here.

Focusing on this year's event venue of Chicago, "Maxwell Street: A Living Memory, The Jewish Experience in Chicago," with director Shuli Eshel, will be screened, accompanied by a reading from the book "Jewish Maxwell Street Stories" by noted local author, Roger Schatz.

There are some popular favorites repeated such as "Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies and the American Dream," profiling the history of Jewish involvement in the entertainment history and the immigrant experience, and "Everything is Illuminated," the off-kilter, evocative, portrait of a return to an ancestral shtetl.

For Litvaks, and everyone interested in Holocaust heroism under extraordinary circumstances, there's "Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness," the remarkable story of Chiune Sugihara and the Jewish refugees he helped, along with "Hiding and Seeking: Faith and Tolerance After the Holocaust," about Menachem Daum's return to Poland to search for the farming family that hid his father-in-law during WWII.

Several films will premiere such as "Tovarisch: I Am Not Dead," a new documentary by two-time British Academy award-winning director Stuart Urban. His father was a survivor - not a victim - of both the Holocaust and gulag.

Born in Stanislawow (Galicia/Ukraine) in 1916, Garri Urban overcame adversity through a mixture of charm, aggression, and chutzpah. Using video diaries that were made over a 14 year quest into Garri's KGB records and the fate of his family in the Holocaust, Urban traveled with his father in 1992 to the former Soviet Union to continue unraveling the truth about his father's amazing life, including the fact that he was still listed as an "international spy" on the KGB most-wanted list. As Stuart Urban cautions: "Sometimes people hear about Tovarisch and they are amazed it is not a catalog of massacres and suffering. It is as much about triumph and the strength of personality. It is about survivors. Who do they leave behind? Who do they love? How do they find them again? And what is the price of survival?"

Food is also featured in Aussie Lesley Sharon Rosenthal's "Buboolah Bagela," which examines our love affair with the bagel, and "888-Go-Kosher," a day in the life of New York's only rapid-response kitchen koshering service.

Operating out of his office in Brooklyn, Rabbi Lebovic helps those in need, answering calls and snapping into action with his full-service team to kosher kitchens across the New York area. 888-Go-Kosher offers a light-hearted portrait of this unique service, and demonstrates the relationship of kashrut to Jewish identity.

Watch for news of the complete schedule.

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