In October, Longboater Roz Goldberg attended the Hamptons International Film Festival, as she does every year. She bought a ticket for “Orchestra of Exiles,” because Goldberg is always on the lookout for potential films for The Jewish Film Festival, which she chairs — and because she’s “film crazy.”
The documentary chronicles the story of Bronislaw Huberman, founder of the Palestine Symphony (known as the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra since 1948). The orchestra became a musical haven for Jewish exiles. Goldberg was so taken with the film that, following the closing credits, the redhead bounded right up to director, producer and screenwriter Josh Aronson.
“Your film was wonderful,” she told him. “I want our audience in Sarasota to see it, and I want you to come.”
Aronson will be speaking March 17, at the Jewish Film Festival following the Sarasota premiere of his film.
Goldberg has been chairwoman of The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee’s annual Jewish Film Festival since its inception four years ago.
“It’s my baby,” she says.
It arose during a time when the Jewish Federation hoped to reach out to institutions by partnering with arts groups, such as Sarasota Ballet, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Sarasota Orchestra and Sarasota Film Festival, to name a few.
In previous years, the national and international independent films were selected with high standards; these must be newly released, quality films that reflect Jewish themes. This year, the Jewish Federation deemed it the Israel Film Festival in honor of Israel turning 65 years old, and it will feature six films with subjects pertaining to Israel or made by Israelis.
“One film is about the creation of the Israel Philharmonic; another is about a relationship between a grandmother and her grandson; another is about the rescue of Israeli hostages from Uganda in 1976,” Goldberg says.
Goldberg pulls these films from a variety of sources, including the Hamptons International Film Festival and by keeping tabs on Atlanta Jewish Film Festival and The New York Jewish Film Festival. She receives suggestions from Tom Hall, founder of Sarasota Film Festival, and Yitzi Zablocki, director of the Israel Film Center in New York City. She screens about 30 films, narrows it down to less than 15 films, and then her hand-selected committee helps her decide upon six.
The committee consists of two men and eight women in their 60s and 70s, all of whom Goldberg says qualify as cinephiles.
“Cinephiles are people who love film, are knowledgeable about film and filmmaking, and they’ve seen a large number of films,” she says. “They represent a knowledgeable audience member and how a knowledgeable audience member would react.”
Goldberg is a definite cinephile: She saw 33 films during last year’s Sarasota Film Festival and, in the past year, has seen 48 of the 200 films showcased. She sponsors SFF, and, as far as she knows, she saw more SFF films than anyone else in Sarasota. She has a loyal committee, consisting of mostly the same people in the last two years.
In November, the committee meets for six screening dates when they meet to view two potential films — snacks are always on-hand. In the second week of December they meet to discuss the films. If more than three in her 10-person committee hates a film, they cross it off the list.
“We try to pick films that are exciting, have substance, are entertaining and resonate with our audience.”
IF YOU GO
Israel Film Festival
When: Starts Sunday, March 27
Where: Beatrice Friedman Theater, 582 McIntosh Road, Sarasota; Temple Sinai, 4631 S. Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota; Polo Grill & Bar, 10670 Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Ranch; Temple Beth Israel, 567 Bay Isles Road, Longboat Key
Cost: Tickets $7; festival pass $36; patron pass $50
Info: Visit jfedsrq.org/fimfestival.aspx or call 552-6304.
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