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Houston Jewish Film Festival

The 11th annual Houston Jewish Film Festival, presented in collaboration with the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center, takes place March 5–20 with screenings at the MFAH, the ERJCC, and Holocaust Museum Houston. See a complete schedule.

Special film-festival ticket prices apply: General admission is $10. Museum members, seniors (65+), and students with ID receive a $2 discount.

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

The Art Dealer


2014, in French with English subtitles
Directed by François Margolin
The new drama from renowned French director François Margolin (producer of The Flight of the Red Balloon) follows a Jewish woman who embarks on a journey to recover family paintings that were stolen by Nazis. During her investigation, she discovers some family secrets are better kept hidden. Anna Sigalevitch (The Piano Teacher) gives another captivating performance as a desperate woman searching for the truth in a past shrouded in mystery. Completing this stellar French cast are Louis-Do de Lencquesaing (Father ... more info

God's Slave

Esclavo de Dios

2013, in Spanish with English subtitles
Directed by Joel Novoa
Based on a 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires, God's Slave follows Ahmed, trained since childhood as a terrorist, now assigned to execute a suicide bomb at a synagogue, and David, the Israeli special agent who will stop at nothing to prevent the attack. But neither man is defined solely by his extremist views. Ahmed, posing as a doctor, lives happily with his wife and young son; though David's marriage is on the rocks, he remains devoted to his wife and ... more info

The Outrageous Sophie Tucker

Directed by William Gazecki
The rags to riches story of Sophie Tucker, an iconic superstar who ruled the worlds of vaudeville, Broadway, radio, television, and Hollywood throughout the 20th century. Tucker, known as "The Last of the Red Hot Mamas," was the first woman to infatuate her audiences with a bold, bawdy, and brassy style unlike any other. Using all of Tucker's 400-plus recently rediscovered personal scrapbooks, authors Susan and Lloyd Ecker retrace Tucker's 60-year career in show business. more info


Directed by Atom Egoyan
From acclaimed director Atom Egoyan, Remember tells the story of Zev Guttman (Christopher Plummer), a 90-year-old struggling with memory loss in a retirement home. Following the death of his wife, Zev receives a mysterious package from his close friend Max (Martin Landau), containing a letter detailing a shocking plan. Both Zev and Max are survivors of Auschwitz, and the same sadistic guard murdered both of their families – a guard who has lived in the U.S. under an assumed identity ... more info

Serial (Bad) Weddings

Qu'est-ce qu'on a fait au Bon Dieu?

2014, in French with English subtitles
Directed by Philippe de Chauveron
In this smash hit comedy, a conservative French couple have their lives turned upside down when their three eldest daughters marry Jewish, Asian, and Muslim men outside of their Catholic faith. The husbands are nonetheless accepted, and the extended family expands to include grandchildren. When their youngest daughter announces her engagement to a Catholic man, the parents rejoice, but this fiancé’s father arrives from Africa with his objections of his own.  more info

Carvalho’s Journey

Directed by Steve Rio
Introduced by Malcolm Daniel, curator in charge, department of photography and special projects This 19th-century adventure story documents the extraordinary career of Solomon Nunes Carvalho (1815–1897) and his life as a photographer, artist, and pioneer in American history. A Sephardic Jew from Charleston, South Carolina, Carvalho traveled with the fifth westward expedition of famed explorer John Fremont in 1853. Carvalho was one of the first photographers to record the sweeping vistas and treacherous terrain of the American West. His experience ... more info



Directed by Yaelle Kayam
Israeli writer-director Yaelle Kayam sets her feature film debut in a family home located in the cemetery on Jerusalem’s vast Mount of Olives. Devout wife Tzvia (Shani Klein, in a riveting performance) spends her days cooking and doing housework while her teacher husband and four young children are away at school. Lonely, and puzzled by her husband’s lack of affection, she takes walks at night, developing an unexpected connection with an irreverent group of prostitutes and drug dealers who have ... more info
The first thing some subscribers do when a new issue of the New Yorker arrives is to look at the cartoons, which are renowned for being clever, hilarious, and topical. Very Semi-Serious, an offbeat meditation on humor, art, and the genius of the single-panel comic, takes an unprecedented, behind-the-scenes look at the meticulous, often infuriating process of selecting and creating the magazine’s popular cartoons. Also featured are interviews with the magazine’s staff and insights from legendary artists Roz Chast and Mort ... more info

The museum has received generous support for the 2016 Houston Jewish Film Festival from Mrs. Joan Schnitzer; Barbara and Gerry Hines; Isabelle and Eric Mayer; Mr. and Mrs. George Stark.