The return of the Axelrod International Jewish Film Festival, September 10-22
The 13th Axelrod International Jewish Film Festival opens Saturday, September 10, 2022 at the Axelrod Center for the Performing Arts in Deal.
The non-profit festival showcases eight outstanding, award-winning films from Israel, the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Austria and more, ranging from stories, relationships and comedies about the ‘Holocaust and World War II’ to an edge-of-your-seat thriller. !
“We offer the best in international films and never compromise on quality and artistic integrity,” said Toby Shylit Mack, director of the Axelrod International Jewish Film Festival (AJIFF) and Film Education. “We always ensure that the content meets the criteria of our mission statement.”
AJIFF’s mission is to entertain, but along the way, viewers will be treated to eye-opening experiences. The award-winning and critically acclaimed films reveal vast cinematic landscapes, where audiences are immersed in a world of adventure filled with drama, romance, comedy and gripping true stories.
Shylit Mack knows all too well the experience of the Holocaust. His mother was a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps; her father was in Buchenwald and she was born in the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp.
“We carefully curate stellar foreign films to foster awareness and illuminate various topics of cultural significance,” said Shylit Mack.
Opening the festival is the Israeli film, “Karaoke,” an offbeat, comedic journey following Tova and Meir, an aging couple with 46 years of marriage and two grown daughters. They live a comfortable life, with Meir currently on sabbatical from her job as a university professor and Tova running a shop. Their lives are supercharged by their upstairs neighbor, Itzik, who invites them to his penthouse for karaoke nights. Tova and Meir fall in love with Itzik’s energetic lifestyle. They begin to compete with their other neighbors and soon with each other, trying to gain Itzik’s attention. “Karaoke” stars Sasson Gabay (The Band Visit), Lior Ashkenazi (Footnote, Late Marriage) and Rita Shukrun (Tironoot).
“Karaoke,” which had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, was nominated for 14 Ophir (Israeli Academy) awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress. There will be two in-person screenings at Axelrod PAC – Saturday, September 10 at 8:30 p.m. (including free popcorn and dessert reception) and Sunday, September 11 at 4 p.m. “Karaoke” will also screen at the Count Basie Cinema in Red Bank on September 13 at 7 p.m.
“The Man from the Basement” will be screened at the Axelrod PAC on Saturday September 17 at 8:30 p.m. and Sunday September 18 at 4 p.m. Director Philippe Le Guay’s 2021 film will make you think twice about renting space in your home for a “nice old man.” This drama, in French with English subtitles, stars Jérémie Renier (A Bruges), Bérénice Bejo (The Artist) and François Cluzet (Les Intouchables). The film will also screen at the Count Basie Cinema in Red Bank on September 22 at 7 p.m.
The remaining six films can be streamed anytime between September 10 and September 22. In “Adieu, M. Haffmann”, François Mercier is an ordinary man living in Paris in 1941. His only goal is to start a family with Blanche, the woman he loves. François works for Mr. Haffmann, a talented Jewish jeweler. Under the German occupation, the employer and the employee are forced to conclude an agreement which, during the following months, will change the fate of all concerned.
“Where Life Begins” tells the story of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family from Aix-les-Bains who visit a farm in Calabria, Italy each year for a brief stay to fulfill a sacred mission: the harvest citrons. Here, Elio, the owner of the farm, meets Esther, the rabbi’s daughter, tired of the constraints imposed by her religion. Through this relationship, Esther will understand the importance of freedom and find her way, and, in the same way, Elio will find the peace he had long lost.
In the Austrian drama “Schächten”, a young Austrian-Jewish businessman named Victor witnesses how the prosecution of a Nazi crime against his family unfairly fails in the courtroom. The political and legal system of 1960s Austria is still run by former Nazis and there is no way for Victor to change things. When he loses his grief-stricken father and his girlfriend’s family opposes their relationship and the fact that he is Jewish, Victor completely loses faith in the system and pursues things a different way.
Hosted by award-winning Israeli performer Dudu Fisher (Les Miserables), “Baltic Truth” exposes the tragic events of the early months of World War II in the Baltic states. This documentary chronicles how nearly all of the Jewish community in the occupied Baltic nations was wiped out by face-to-face execution, one bullet at a time with the help of the local population – before the Final Solution, before Auschwitz and before the gas chambers. The film reflects the Holocaust story’s need for accuracy and does not allow blame to be shifted. The film reveals the truth about the collaboration with the Nazi regime in the Baltic States; how neighbor turned on neighbor without hesitation, causing a massacre of large proportions. “Baltic Truth” reveals how some national heroes implicated in the crimes of the Holocaust are celebrated by their compatriots to this day.
The French film, “The Wedding Day,” is the story of a World War II tragedy in a Polish village mixed with the story of a wedding that happened in the same place 100 years later. It examines a xenophobic community that has forgotten its own history. “An uncomfortable revision of history delivered in a masterful and provocative act of genre, commercial, and arthouse cinema of intense social relevance.” – Anarchy of the screen.
“Lost Transport” takes place in the spring of 1945 when a train deporting hundreds of Jewish prisoners runs aground near a small German village occupied by the Red Army. Doomed to each other and against a backdrop of deep mistrust, desperation and revenge, an unexpected friendship is born between Russian sniper Vera, villager Winnie and Jewish-Dutch Simone.
The Axelrod Performing Arts Center is located at 100 Grant Avenue, Deal Park. Individual movie tickets are $15. A movie pass is $82 and includes a ticket to the festival’s opening film, “Karaoke” (in-person with free popcorn and dessert), a ticket to the closing film, “The Man in the Basement” (in person with free popcorn) and links to 6 virtual movies. Tickets for the live movies can also be used at Red Bank at the Count Basie Cinema.
The Virtual Film Festival Pass, which grants access to all six virtual films, costs $52. Links will be sent 24 hours before the start date of the festival. For more information, visit www.axelrodartscenter.com or contact [email protected].
Now in its 13th year, the Axelrod International Jewish Film Festival receives major support for this annual event from the Jewish Federation in the heart of New Jersey.