14th Annual 2016 Austin Jewish Film Festival
November 5-11, 2016
|Fourteen years ago, in 2002, the Austin Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) was a concept, a notion, a big idea. The larger Jewish communities around the country had Jewish film festivals, and the time was right to bring one to Austin. That October, AJFF screened its first film at the Alamo Drafthouse. Since that time, AJFF has become well known for screening the best quality Jewish documentary, drama, and short films from around the globe and for providing speakers, interviews, and programmed events to complement those films. AJFF regularly coordinates with cultural organizations city-wide and attracts an audience beyond the Jewish community. 2016 is no exception as we bring opportunities for Jewish learning, live professional events, and even a food-tasting to the theater!
Natalie Portman stars in, directs, and serves as screenwriter for our opening film, A Tale of Love and Darkness, a story based on the memoir of Amos Oz and the early years of the State of Israel. A Grain of Truth, a gripping, fast-paced thriller, closes our opening night with a plot of intrigue, based on an adaption of a bestselling Polish novel.
We first met Mekonen Abeba in the highly acclaimed documentary Beneath the Helmet, as a raw recruit in the IDF Parachute regiment. On Sunday afternoon, we’ll meet him again in Mekonen: The Journey of an African Jew and learn about his incredible quest as he immigrates to Israel from an Ethiopian village and becomes a decorated officer in the IDF. Following that film, AJFF collaborates with the Austin Jewish Book Fair to present author/director Josh Aronson, featuring his film Orchestra of Exiles, followed by a book signing session. Sunday films continue with Christopher Plummer starring in Remember, as he embarks on a cross-country odyssey in search for revenge, leading to a shocking climax. A Borrowed Identity, dealing with the complex identities of Jewish and Palestinian Israelis, closes out the day.
Beginning at noon each day, we’ll travel around the world. We’ll explore previously unknown stories of the Holocaust, such as the film A Blind Hero: The Love of Otto Weidt; we’ll join a group of teens who prevent war between Iran and Israel, in the zany comedy Atomic Falafel; and we’ll discover who has the world record for the largest serving of Hummus (over 20,000 pounds), in the documentary Hummus! (The Movie).
Sabena Flight 572, in route from Brussels to Tel Aviv, was hijacked in 1972. Even if you remember the outcome of that incredible event, discovering the roles of past and current Israeli prime ministers in Wednesday evening’s docu-drama Sabena Hijacking – My Version will have you on the edge of your seat! And Jerry Lewis: Man Behind the Clown screens Wednesday at noon with the fascinating story of Lewis’s rise to fame in both Hollywood and France. His career went far beyond a comic performer, as he was a ground-breaking director, producer, and writer. Friday, November 11, closes out the film festival at noon with a delightful shorts program with films from Canada, France, USA, and Israel.