The twenty-fourth annual Donald M. Ephraim Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival will have projectors from Delray Beach to Palm Beach Gardens whirring at a feverous pace when the festival comes to town. With a lineup of 37 films ranging from drama and comedies to documentaries and shorts—plus covering a range of topics from heroism, isolationism and acceptance to art and culture, homosexuality and love—each film is tied together with the common thread from a Jewish perspective.
The PBJFF will run from January 16-26 at four locations throughout Palm Beach County: Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, COBB Downtown at the Gardens, Frank Theatres at Delray Market Place and the Norton Museum of Art. The festival celebrates the latest endeavors and emerging voices in the world of film from all over the world, all united by the bond of the Jewish experience.
Though film festivals have begun to grow in Palm Beach, with the likes of the Palm Beach International Film Festival and the L’DUB Lake Worth Film Festival becoming annual standard-bearers, the PBJFF is the longest running in the county and unique in its mission of brining proactive film that “takes you on a cinematic cultural journey; to laugh, to learn, to remember and rejoice while viewing a board spectrum of Jewish life.” The films scheduled embrace this mission, each exploring a distinct vision and perspective, from fictionalized stories to documentaries spotlighting important events, subjects and culture of Jewish life. Some of the more intriguing films in the lineup this year take on a broad range of topics and genres:
The Polish thriller Aftermath, a Florida premiere, follows two brothers who unearth their town’s dark past, brining on the ire of the townsfolk in the process. Though fictionalized, writer/director Wladyslaw Pasikow drew upon the horrific and notorious events of Jedwabne pogrom during the Nazi occupation of Poland in July 1941, when the town’s inhabitants massacred more than 300 Polish Jews.
- Polish with subtitles.
- Showtimes: Cobb Theatres Downtown on Monday, January 20 at 4:30 p.m.; Frank Theatres at Delray marketplace on Wednesday, January 22 at 7:30 p.m.
- Trailer courtesy of Menemsha Films.
Moses on the Mesa, a South Florida premiere, tells the incredible true story of Solomon Bibo, an Jewish immigrant from Germany who struck out to America in search of El Dorado. The short 20-minute film directed by Paul Ratner follows Bido as he becomes the governor of the indigenous Acoma tribe, whose ancient pueblo sits atop an unassailable cliff in New Mexico.
- Showtimes: Frank Theatres at Delray marketplace on Wednesday, January 22 at 11 a.m.; Cobb Theatres Downtown on Thursday, January 23 at 11 a.m.
- Trailer courtesy of Films By Giants.
The short documentary The Art of Spiegelman, directed by Clara Kuperberg and Joëlle Oosterlinck, takes an insider look into the story and process behind the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus, as well as other works. Spiegelman achieved international acclaim for Maus, a graphic novel/comic depicting the dual narrative of the artist interviewing his father about his experiences as a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor. The film peaks behind Spiegelman’s process with his work on Maus and as a cartoonist for The New Yorker.
- Showtimes: Norton Museum of Art on Tuesday, January 21 at 2 p.m.; Frank Theatres at Delray Marketplace on Wednesday, January 22 at 4 p.m.
- Trailer courtesy of Withita Films.
This year’s opening night (Thursday, January 16) not only includes a screening of When Comedy Went to School, a comedic documentary exploring the age-old questions: Why are there so many Jewish comedians? The film revisits the famed Catskill Mountains’ hotels where young Jewish comedians like Sid Caesar, Mort Sahl, Jerry lewis and Jerry Stiller cut their teeth and honed their craft. The PBJFF will also honor 2014’s honoree and the new namesake of the festival, Donald M. Ephraim.
- Festivities begin at 5 p.m. at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts’ Cohen Pavilion with a special cocktail reception for Film Society Members and sponsors, followed by the screening of When Comedy Went to School at 7 p.m.
- Tickets cost $20 for the opening night film viewing.
- Trailer courtesy of Akaya Films.
- Tickets cost $10 per screening, $136 for Reel Pass admission to all screenings ($118 for members).
- For more information and to purchase tickets, visit palmbeachjewishfilm.org.
Visit page two for the complete PBJFF screening schedule.
For real cinephiles, below is the complete lineup of the PBJFF screening schedule.
- On Thursday, January 16 the festival will open with the South Florida premiere of When Comedy Went to School at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in the Cohen Pavilion at 7 p.m. Played in the honor of the film festival’s namesake, Donald M. Ephraim, the film revisits the famed Catskill Mountains’ hotels where young Jewish comedians like Sid Caesar, Mort Sahl, Jerry lewis and Jerry Stiller cut their teeth and honed their craft.
- The festival begins nine continuous days of film screenings on Saturday, January 18 with a screening of the foreign film The Third Half at 7 p.m. at the Cobb Theatres Downtown and a screening of the foreign film The Jewish Cardinal at 7:30 p.m. at Frank Theatres at Delray Marketplace—both of which are Palm Beach County premieres.
- Sunday, January 19 eight films are on the docket, with the screenings of By Summer’s End (11 a.m.), My Best Holidays (2 p.m.), Zaytoun (4:30 p.m.) and The Jewish Cardinal (7:30 p.m.) at Cobb Theatres Downtown. Concurrently, Frank’s Theatres at Delray Merketplace will run Joe Papp in Five Acts and the short Wilt Chamerlain: Borscht Belt Bellhop (11 a.m.), The Third Half (1:30 p.m.), The Ballad of the Weeping Spring (5 p.m.) and Kidon (7:45 p.m.).
- On Monday, January 20 the festival continues with Lunch and Wilt Chamberlain: Borscht Belt Bellhop (11 a.m.), My Australia (1:30 p.m.), Aftermath (4:30 p.m.) and Out in the Dark (7:30 p.m.) at Cobb Theatres Downtown in Palm Beach Gardens. Frank Theatre at Delray Marketplace will be screening Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy (11 a.m.), The Sturgeon Queens and California Shmeer (1:30 p.m.), Sukkah City (3:30 p.m.) and Sonny Boy (6:30 p.m.)
- Tuesday, January 21 the festival will branch out to a third venue, the Norton Museum of Art with two art-centered films, Through the Eyes of the Needle and The Art of Spiegelman at 2 p.m. Cobb Theatres Downtown continues with viewings of The Sturgeon Queens and California Schmeer (11 a.m.), The World is Funny (1:30 p.m.), Sukkah City (4:45 p.m.) and The Last White Knight (7:30 p.m.). Frank Theatres at Delray Marketplace will be viewing Paris-Manhattan and Reporting the Times (11 a.m.), My Australia (1:30 p.m.), Zaytoun (4 p.m.) and Out in the Dark (7 p.m.).
- Day six, Wednesday, January 22 promises another stellar lineup of films with nine features and three shorts scheduled. Cobb Theatres Downtown will feature Fluckes and Wherever You Go (11 a.m.), Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy (1:30 p.m.), In the Shadow (4 p.m.) and Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story (7:30 p.m.). Frank Theatres at Delray Marketplace will run Lunch and iMoses on the Mesa (11 a.m.), The Last White Knight (1:30 p.m.), Through the Eye of the Needle and The Art of Spiegelman (4 p.m.) and Aftermath (7 p.m.). The Norton Museum of Art will also screen a 2 p.m. viewing of Joe Papp in Five Acts.
- Thursday, January 23 Cobb continues with Take Us Home and the Moses on the Mesa (11 a.m.), Paris-Manhattan and Reporting on the Times (2:30 p.m.), Kaddish for a Friend (4:45 p.m.) and Kidon (7:30 p.m.), while Frank Theatres will screen shorts Fluchkes and Wherever You Go (11 a.m.), By Summer’s End (1:30 p.m.), The World is Funny (4:30 p.m.) and Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes (7:30 p.m.).
- Friday, January 24 will run a truncated screen run with Sonny Boy screening at Cobb at 11 a.m., with Frank Theatres screening Kaddish for a Friend (11 a.m.) and Cupcakes (1:30 p.m.).
- Saturday, January 25 continues the streamlined schedule with the two shorts The Return of the Violin and Generations of the Shoah: The Sigmund A. Rolat Story screening at Cobb at 7 p.m., while Dancing in Jaffa runs at 7:30 p.m. at Frank Theatres.
- The final day of the festival, Sunday, January 26, a full run of films is scheduled at both Cobb and Frank Theatres. Beginning at 11 a.m., Cobb will screen The Ballad of the Weeping Spring, followed by Cupcakes (1:45 p.m.), Dancing in Jaffa (4 p.m.) and The Zig Zag Kid (7 p.m.). Frank Theatres wraps its film schedule with My Best Holidays (11 a.m.), In the Shadow (2:30 p.m.), The Return of the Violin and Generations of the Shoah: The Sigmund A. Rolat Story (5:30 p.m.) and The Zig Zag kid (8 p.m.)