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Houston Jewish Film Festival

The 10th Annual Houston Jewish Film Festival proudly continues its tradition of presenting an entertaining, thought-provoking and high-quality line-up comprised of the best Jewish and Israeli films from across the world. Presented in collaboration with the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center, this year’s festival will provide you with your pick of documentaries, dramas, comedies, and musicals. 

Special thanks to the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center; and the Holocaust Museum Houston.

Special Ticket Prices Apply! Individual tickets are $10. MFAH Members, senior adults, students with ID, and JCC members receive a $2 discount on tickets.

Past Films in This Series

 

Precious Life

2010 (English/Arabic/Hebrew)
Directed by Shlomi Eldar
Mohammad Abu Mustafa, a 4-month-old Palestinian born without an immune system, will die without a bone-marrow transplant, a procedure that can be done only in an Israeli hospital. A desperate plea from his doctor to save the boy’s life leads Israeli journalist Shlomi Eldar to document this complex and emotional story. As Israeli and Palestinian doctors put aside their differences to protect the child, the audience is forced to confront the personal ramifications of the embargo of Gaza. Special ticket ... more info
 

Berlin 36

(2009) German with English subtitles
Directed by Kaspar Heidelbach
"Based on actual events, Berlin 36 tells a dramatic story of two athletes during that year’s infamous Olympics. After the Americans threaten a boycott if no Jewish competitors are on the German team, Gretel Bergmann, a Jewish champion high jumper, is invited to train. Contriving a scheme to spoil Gretel’s victory, the Reich promotes an unknown athlete named Marie Ketteler. Neither Gretel nor her teammates have any idea that Marie is a man passing as a woman, nor did the ... more info
 

Paul Goodman Changed My Life

2011
Directed by Jonathan Lee
Thursday's screening introduced by director Jonathan Lee Sunday's screening Introduced by Tony Hoagland, poet and professor, University of Houston creative writing program Author of the legendary bestseller Growing Up Absurd, Paul Goodman (1911–1972) was also a bisexual poet, family man, pacifist, visionary, cofounder of Gestalt therapy and a moral compass for many in the burgeoning counterculture of the 1960s. Paul Goodman Changed My Life immerses audiences in an era of high intellect, when New York was peaking culturally and artistically. Using a treasure trove of ... more info
 

My Best Enemy

Mein bester Feind

2011, in German with English subtitles
Directed by Wolfgang Mumberger
“From acclaimed Austrian director Wolfgang Murnburger comes this charming wartime suspense thriller. Vienna, 1939: Jewish art dealer Victor (Run Lola Run’s Moritz Bleibtreu) and newly minted SS officer Rudi (George Friedrich) are childhood friends who find themselves on opposite sides of the coming storm. With an international incident over a hidden original Michelangelo print at stake, Rudi, who has appropriated Victor’s family estate and fiancée, must also secure Victor’s cooperation to ensure his own survival. Much like Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious ... more info
 

Mary Lou

Television series: Episodes 1-4

2009, in Hebrew with English subtitles
Directed by Eytan Fox
Following the trend of contemporary musicals like Glee, the made-for-Israeli-TV series Mary Lou features a soundtrack by Israeli pop star Svika Pick (who appears as himself). Acclaimed director Eytan Fox (The Bubble; Walk on Water) tells the story of a boy’s (Ido Rosenberg) search for his wayward mother (Maya Dagan) that eventually leads him to a new identity in Tel Aviv: as a drag queen named Mary Lou. The TV series won Israel’s national award for Best Miniseries in 2010. ... more info
 

Restoration

Boker tov adon Fidelman

2011, in Hebrew with English subtitles
Directed by Yossi Madmoni
Seventy-year-old Yaakov Fidelman (The Band’s Visit’s Sasson Gabai) is thrown into turmoil after the sudden death of his long-time partner in a Tel Aviv antiques restoration workshop. Just as his ambitious son Noah (Nevo Kimhi) pressures him to sell the business and build an apartment complex on the site, a talented new assistant shows up, giving him hope. Anton (Henri David) has many secrets, yet he forms a bond with Yaakov that Noah finds as threatening as the flirtation between ... more info
 

Seymour Schwartz: Home Movie

2012
Directed by Jon Schwartz
Join a post-film discussion with Newton Schwartz Sr. and director/producer Jon Schwartz. A reception in the museum galleries follows. A Houston story with universal appeal, this film essay is a character study of the filmmaker’s father, as well as a chronicle of a Houston Jewish family spanning the 20th century. Interviews with Seymour Schwartz (1919–2008)—passionate, outspoken, and possessing an exceptional memory—frame a family history richly illustrated by photographs, letters, and historical materials. Schwartz’s early life, service in World War II, and position at ... more info
 

The Last Flight of Petr Ginz

2012
Directed by Sandy Dickson and Churchill Roberts
Sunday, March 10, 1 p.m. / Regular film admission prices apply Tuesday, March 12, 2 p.m. / Part of "Reel Kids" / Free with museum admission (Recommended for ages 12+) A story of celebration and tragedy, The Last Flight of Petr Ginz is a whimsical and fantastical journey through one boy's imagination. Combining animation, art, and live action, the documentary is a testament to how a boy's creative expression represents the best of what makes us human. By age 14, Petr Ginz had ... more info
 

Ordinary Miracles: The Photo League’s New York

2012
Directed by Daniel Allentuck and Nina Rosenblum
Introduction by Anne Wilkes Tucker, MFAH Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator of Photography This film tells the story of the rise and politically motivated fall of the Photo League (1936–51), which served as the center of the documentary movement in American photography at a time when the camera was held to be, in James Agee’s words, “the central instrument of our time.” The Photo League’s membership roster included Sid Grossman, Aaron Siskind, Jerome Liebling, Dan Weiner, Morris Engel, Walter Rosenblum, ... more info
 

A Bottle in the Gaza Sea

2011, in Hebrew, Arabic, and French with English subtitles
Directed by Une bouteille à la mer
Tal is a 17-year-old French woman who has settled in Jerusalem with her family. She writes a letter expressing her refusal to accept that only hatred can reign between Israelis and Palestinians. She slips the letter into a bottle, and her brother throws it into the sea near Gaza, where he is carrying out his military service. A few weeks later, Tal receives an e-mail response from a mysterious “Gazaman,” a young Palestinian named Naïm. And thus begins a turbulent ... more info
 

Life in Stills

2011, in Hebrew and German with English subtitles
Directed by Tamar Tal
Introduced by Ben Peter At the age of 96, photo shop owner Miriam Weissenstein never imagined that she would be facing a new chapter in her life. But when the shop – her late husband Rudi’s life’s work – was destined for demolition, this opinionated and uncompromising woman knew she needed help. Under the cloud of a family tragedy, a special relationship is forged between Miriam and her grandson, Ben Peter, as they join forces to save the shop and ... more info
 

Putzel

2012
Directed by Jason Chaet
New York’s Upper West Side provides the setting for this quirky comedy that has entertained audiences at festivals around the world. Thirty-something Walter, nicknamed Putzel, aspires to take over Himmelstein’s, his family’s smoked fish emporium, when his Uncle Sid (veteran TV actor John Pankow) retires. But Sid gives him some surprising news, and things get tricky with the arrival of the charismatic Sally (Melanie Lynskey, Heavenly Creatures, Two and a Half Men) who flirts with both men. Further complications are ... more info
 
Presented by Eric A. Goldman, author and professor of cinema, Yeshiva University and the Jewish Theological Seminary. In an industry strongly influenced by Jewish filmmakers, the complex and evolving nature of the American Jewish condition has had considerable impact on American cinema and, in particular, how Jews are reflected on the screen. By analyzing select mainstream films from the beginning of the sound era until today, this groundbreaking study uses the medium of cinema to provide an understanding of the ... more info
 

The Wonders

2013, in Hebrew with English subtitles
Directed by Avi Nesher
Ariel Navon is a Jerusalem bartender, art-school dropout, and graffiti artist. Late one night, he sees a strange blue light coming from an abandoned Jerusalem apartment. His investigation reveals that in the apartment is the missing modern-day prophet Rabbi Knafo, whose followers believe he is on speed dial to God. The Wonders—reminiscent of such classics as Chinatown and Rear Window—offers up a commentary on cults, the misuse of money given by cult followers, and lost souls looking for something in ... more info
 

The Jewish Cardinal

Le métis de Dieu

2012, in French with English subtitles
Directed by Ilan Duran Cohen
This compelling historical drama chronicles the life of Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger (1926–2007), a son of Polish-Jewish immigrants who maintained his cultural identity as a Jew after joining the priesthood. Quickly rising within the ranks of the Church, Lustiger was appointed Archbishop of Paris by Pope John Paul II in 1981. An outspoken advocate for many social and educational causes (earning him the nickname “Bulldozer”), Lustiger was considered controversial. His strong support of Israel deviated from the Vatican’s historically neutral position. ... more info
 

For a Woman

Pour une femme

2013, in French with English subtitles
Directed by Diane Kurys
Two brothers fall for the same woman in Diane Kurys’s historical melodrama set in both 1950s and 1980s Lyon. When a writer (noted French actress Sylvie Testud) decides to write a screenplay about her parents, she discovers a photograph of her mother and a man she does not recognize. What follows is the filmmaker’s semi-autobiographical tale of a postwar ménage-à-trois between a Jewish tailor, his mysterious brother, and a young mother. Romance and suspense combine to create an absorbing, emotionally ... more info
 

Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did for Love

2013
Directed by Dori Berinstein
This biography of composer Marvin Hamlisch (1944–2012) is a must for lovers of musicals. A prodigy accepted to Juilliard at age six, Hamlisch defied classical expectations, redirecting his talents to musical theatre and pop music. By age 31, he achieved unprecedented success with smash hits including “The Way We Were,” “Nobody Does It Better,” and scores for The Sting, Sophie’s Choice, and A Chorus Line. He went on to earn four Grammys, four Emmys, three Oscars, three Golden Globes, a ... more info