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Jewish Film Festival will explore the theme of 'Israel: Yesterday and Today'

The Ninth Annual Naiditch Family Foundation Jewish Film Festival details 70 years of human experience in Israel.

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Sponsored by The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, the 2018 Naiditch Family Foundation Jewish Film Festival showcases 12 feature films from March 8-18. This 10-day festival coincides with celebrations of Israel’s 70th birthday. According to festival Co-Chair Fran Braverman, “The focus is people, not politics.”

“Our films show what life is like for the people who live in Israel today — from an Orthodox community to a family of Palestinians living in Tel Aviv,” she says. “We also celebrate the people who made that life possible, including an amazing interview with Ben-Gurion, and a showing of ‘Exodus’ at our closing night event.”

Here are a few highlights:



‘The Women’s Balcony’

Directed by Emil Ben-Shimon 

Life in an Orthodox community in Israel revolves around an old school synagogue that segregates the sexes. When the women’s balcony collapses, it puts the elderly rabbi’s wife in the hospital, and gives the rabbi a nervous breakdown. Until he recovers, Rabbi David is the stand-in. He’s a lean, young man with all the trappings of a cult leader. The women raise funds for a new balcony. Misogynist that he is, the new rabbi plans to spend it on a new Torah scroll instead, and keeps the women in a cramped storage room. It sparks a small rebellion, and a heartwarming victory for love and common sense. 1 p.m. March 13; 10:30 a.m. March 14; 1 p.m. March 16 at Hollywood 11.


‘Mr. Predictable’

Directed by Roee Florentin 

This witty rom-com revolves around Adi, nice guy who always finishes last. When Adi was only 5, his father made him promise to always be a good boy. His father died in battle in Lebanon. Adi grew up to be a doormat for his mother, his wife, his son, his boss and almost everybody. That all changes when he bumps into Natalia, a fearless, free-spirited dog walker. Adi takes a walk on the wild side — and his days of victimhood are no more. 1 p.m. March 12; 7 p.m. March 13; 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. March 14; 1 p.m. March 16 at Hollywood 11, 1993 Main St. Also: 3 p.m. March 14, at Temple Beth Israel.



‘An Israeli Love Story’

Directed by Dan Wolman

Once upon a time, Pnina Gary, a celebrated Israeli actress, had a steamy love affair with Eli Ben-Zvi, the son of the second president of the state of Israel. Their love unfolded in the time of Israel’s birth pangs. That birth has yet to come. The future of their love and the Jewish nation is still far from clear. 7 p.m. March 12; 1 p.m. March 13; 10:30 a.m. March 15 at Hollywood 11. Also: 7 p.m. March 14 at Temple Beth Israel.


‘A Quiet Heart’

Directed by Eitan Anner 

Naomi, a secular, piano prodigy on the verge of a world-class career, flees Tel Aviv to escape the pressures of parents and colleagues. She escapes to the anonymity of Jerusalem and tries to get her priorities straight — but inadvertently gets caught up in the tensions of Jerusalem’s secular and religious communities. Despite threats of violence, Naomi uses music to overcome towering religious barriers and hate. 3:30 p.m March 12; 10:30 a.m. March 14; 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. March 15; 1 p.m. March 16 at Hollywood 11, 1993 Main St.



‘Ben-Gurion, Epilogue’

Directed by Yariv Mozer 

Imagine finding George Washington’s long-lost diary. The discovery of this groundbreaking interview with Israel’s founding prime minister has the same historical impact. It was filmed in 1968, aired once, and presumed lost. When the footage came to light in the Spielberg Jewish Film Archives, Mozer and editor Yael Perlov painstakingly restored the missing soundtrack from the Ben-Gurion Archives, then restored and edited the six hours of footage to a 70-minute theatrical feature. The resulting documentary is an amazing portrait of an iconoclastic dreamer who helped make Israel something more than a dream. 7 p.m March 12; , 1 p.m. March 15; 10:30 a.m. March 16 at Hollywood 11.


‘Operation Wedding’

Directed by Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov

In 1970, a group of young Jewish dissidents hatched a daring escape from the Soviet Union. They planned to hijack an unused plane. But the KGB intercepted them before they even got on. Two received a death sentence; the rest languished for years in the gulag archipelago. Zalmanson-Kuznetsov’s documentary charts their failed flight to freedom — and the unfailing bonds that held the survivors together over the years. For her, the story was close to home. The director’s mother was one of the dissidents. 3:30 p.m. March 12; 10:30 a.m.  March 13; 1 p.m. March 14; 3:30 p.m. March 15 at Hollywood 11.


‘A Heartbeat Away’

Directed by Tal Barda and Noam Pinchas

In Tanzania, five children die each day from cardiac illnesses. Dr. Akiva Tamir is an Israeli pediatric cardiologist devoted to saving them — but sometimes at a heartbreaking price. Tamir and his team examine hundreds of children; only a few can receive life-saving treatment. When 6-year-old Julius arrives in critical condition, Tamir is forced to choose whether he will be one of them. This gripping documentary captures the pulse of his moral and physical struggle. 1 p.m March 12; 3:30 p.m. March 13; 3:30 p.m. March 14; 10:30 a.m.  March 15; 3:30 p.m. March 16, , at Hollywood 11.


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