Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Priest, a Rabbi and an Arab walk into a bar...or is it the Mandel JCC Cleveland Jewish Film Fest, October 8-18?

Event preview by Charles Cassady, Jr.

A good many more movies than you think hail from the film studios of Tel Aviv (I should copyright the name Matzoh-bollywood before someone else does). But where to see Hebrew film
 fare on the big screen? The Mandel JCC Cleveland Jewish Film Fest, that's where. 

This annual fall feast of cinematic Judiaca, fiction and nonfiction, shorts and features, utilizes screening venues all over, mostly on the east side of Cuyahoga County, with the bulk of the films shown at the Cedar Lee multiplex in Cleveland Heights, but with additional curtains raised at the Lakewood Public Library, Chagrin Falls, Shaker Square, the Maltz Performing Arts Center, and the Mandel JCC itself. 

Besides the imports from Israel, the 2015 edition has entries from France, Germany, the United States - and even Uruguay, in the case of MISTER KAPLAN, a 2014 comedy about an elderly South American guy fixated on mounting a ramshackle police operation, amateur MUNICH-style, against an old German saloon owner he suspects is an escaped Nazi war criminal. It screens at the Chagrin Cinemas multiplex On October 17 at 9:30 p.m. 

Other exceptional things one doesn't see every day: a revival screening of a "lost" movie from the silent era that has only recently come to light, BREAKING HOME TIES, a pre-JAZZ SINGER assimilation drama about a self-made man in New York with a secret Jewish past in old Russia and a pair of parents who unexpectedly make the journey to America after him. It screens at Temple Tifereth Israel in University Circle on October 18 at 7 p.m. DELI MAN, at the Cedar Lee on October 11 at 10 a.m., is a nonfiction tribute to the great American culinary tradition of the Jewish deli, with guest gourmands Larry King and Jerry Stiller. What, they couldn't screen it at Corky & Lenny's? 

THE FAREWELL PARTY, at the Cedar Lee on October 14 at 7:30 p.m., is a sardonic German-Israeli feature about an old tinkerer whose terminally ill friend entreats him to build a Jack Krevorkian-style machine to assist in committing suicide. DOUGH, the next night at the Cedar Lee, is a UK farce set in London's multicultural East End, wherein a Jewish baker's business picks up thanks to the young African refugee who infuses marijuana in the bread and pastries. Required viewing for Issue 3? 

THEODORE BIKEL: IN THE SHOES OF SHOLOM ALEICHEM is a documentary profile of one of the acting world's recent losses, the great actor Bikel, who portrait Tevye the Dairyman, of Fiddler on the Roof fame, more than 2,000 times onstage, interwoven with an account of Tevye's creator, the legendary author Aleichem. It screens at the Mandel JCC on October 18 at 11 a.m.  

Husband-and-wife art scholars Rick and Laura Brown are coming in from Boston for a live appearance to accompany the October 11 5 p.m. screening of Yari Wolinsky's documentary RAISE THE ROOF, about their restoration of a traditional Polish synagogue destroyed by the Nazis. Musician David Broza will do a Q&A in person at October 13's screening at the Cedar Lee of EAST JERUSALEM WEST JERUSALEM, in which singer-songwriter Broza jams with Palestinians for eight days in a personal peace initiative.  

If, like so many Clevelanders, you're poor, laid off and broke, know that EAST JERUSALEM WEST JERUSALEM also shows for free (in cooperation with the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival) at the Chagrin Falls Public Library at 2 p.m. on Friday, October 16. Another free documentary screening happens at the Parma-Snow library on October 18 at 2 p.m.; it's ZEMENE, a heartwarming narrative of an Ethiopian girl with a crippling spinal condition and the chance encounter with a Jewish-American surgeon on the streets of Addis Ababa that changes her life forever. 

Other than the freebies, regular theatrical rates ($10 for evenings, $8 for matinees) apply to most screenings, with a premium price for opening night and some discount specials. For a complete schedule of the Cleveland Jewish FilmFest, check out www.mandeljcc.org/filmfest.  

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