18th Annual Toronto Jewish Film Festival – April 17 – 25, 2010

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18th Annual
Toronto Jewish Film Festival
April 17 – 25, 2010 

93 Films
18 Countries
4 Continents
28 Canadian Premieres
7 North American Premieres
Special Presentations
A World Class Film FestivalAnnouncing The Full Lineup and Schedule

 

“Chai” is Hebrew for 18, a transcendent number representing life. And at 18, the Toronto Jewish Film Festival is back – as big as life.  Funny and sad, shattering and mundane, from the pioneers of comic books to the litigators who defined crimes against humanity, it’s an unforgettable parade of people and characters, viewed through the prism of the camera lens.

 One of the largest festivals of its kind in the world, TJFF returns April 17-25th, 2010 with an international programme from 18 countries and four continents, reflecting aspects of Jewish identity and diversity with universal themes. The shorts, documentaries and features, a total of 93, hail from such disparate places as Israel, Argentina, Mexico, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Belgium, USA, France, UK, Hungary, Germany, Netherlands, and Poland.  As well, this year’s TJFF features a record 28 Canadian premieres.

The Festival opens at The Bloor Cinema on April 17th at 9:15p.m with Sharon Maymon and Erez Tadmor’s A Matter Of Size, an Israeli comedy. Herzl joins a fitness club to get into shape, but the process turns out to be sheer torture and the results are disappointing. Losing weight and getting fit is not easy. Finally fed up with the ridicule he faces on a daily basis, Herzl chances upon sumo wrestling as a way to turn his size into self-respect. He manages to convince some friends to join him, and they all learn some important lessons about life itself. A Matter of Size contains a little bit of everything—comedy, romance, friendship, and a lesson for everyone.

TJFF is honoured to present the North American Premiere of Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today (1948) [The 2009 Schulberg/Waletzky Restoration] meticulously and painstakingly restored by Sandra Schulberg and Josh Waletzky. It was originally written and directed by Stuart Schulberg, completed in 1948, and subsequently suppressed from release in America by the U.S. government (although the film was shown in Germany), for murky reasons (including the film’s possible effect on the implementation of the Marshall Plan to aid in Germany’s economic recovery). Nuremberg illustrates how international prosecutors built their case against top Nazi war criminals during one of the greatest courtroom dramas in history. The movie is invaluable as an historical document of the Nazi rise to power and Hitler’s strategy during WWII, and startlingly relevant in depicting the trial’s establishment of the “Nuremberg principles” the foundation for all subsequent trials for crimes against humanity. Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today also presents irrefutable proof that the Jews were Hitler’s primary intended victims. “Nuremberg is an incredible piece of cinematic history that can now be seen in an international version that allows you to hear the participants speaking in their own languages for the first time.” It is riveting… extraordinarily powerful….and not-to-be missed.

On a lighter-hearted note, the Jewish monster myth of the Golem has inspired sensational storytelling for centuries and has served as the prototype for the superhero.  So is it a surprise that a people with a folkloric belief  in animating the inanimate would invent the comic book and pioneer “toons?” This year, the Toronto Jewish Film Festival and curator Ellie Skrow present a wham bam sidebar series titled PEOPLE OF THE COMIC BOOK: The Creators Of Superheroes, Graphic Novels & Toons.  Jews played a predominant role in the history of the comic book, starting from the Golden Age of Comics (roughly 1938 to 1950). Superman, who first appeared in 1938 on the cover of Action Comics No. 1 (an issue worth $1 million today), was created by a couple of Jewish kids — Toronto-born Joe Shuster and Cleveland native Jerry Siegel. Jewish artists also invented and developed the graphic novel, and played a formative role in the creation of early animation, or “toons.”  

With the exception of several recent museum exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe, comic art (the umbrella term that encompasses the genres outlined above) has largely been an unrecognized art form. People of the Comic Book celebrates the pioneers and creators of this unique form of popular culture, through a series of documentary films, features, shorts and special events that pay tribute to the remarkable contribution of Jewish artists.  Confirmed guests in attendance include author Paul Buhle (Jews and American Comics), author Harvey Pekar (American Splendor), award-winning graphic novelist Ben Katchor, as well as filmmaker Gary VandenBergh  (who brings an exciting work-in-progress on Mad Magazine artist Will Elder to the Festival), and director Sam Ball (Pleasures of Urban Decay and also Joann Sfar Draws From Memory – a work-in-progress on the French graphic novelist).

In this 18th year, TJFF is offering various fascinating portraits of unforgettable individuals—portraits of saints, sinners, and many others in between: the controversial attorney William Kunstler; the Israeli Arab writer Sayed Kashua who slays all sacred cows but suffers the consequences; Hank Greenspun, the convicted gun runner,  Las Vegas visionary, and target of Joseph McCarthy; two Jewish women, athletic contenders for the Berlin 1936 Olympics: a high jumper who chose ethics over her sport and a fencer who chose her sport instead; two maverick filmmakers, Amos Gitai and Claude Lanzmann. And then there’s Pannonica Rothschild, Baroness and muse and confidante to Thelonious Monk. We are thrilled to be presenting the World Premiere documentary of The  Klezmatics: On Holy Ground, a documentary portrait of one of the most popular klezmer bands in the world, and the only klezmer musicians to win a Grammy; accompanied with this world premiere screening will be a musical performance by Members of the Klezmatics: FRANK LONDON, LORIN SKLAMBERG and LISA GUTKIN. Of course we want to entertain and enlighten, but we feel that we haven’t really done our job unless we also provoke: Jaffa, the Orange’s Clockwork uncovers the little-known story behind Israel’s famous Jaffa orange, and then there’s the comedy Simon Konianski, an irreverent take on the contemporary Jewish generational struggle. TJFF once again offers something for everyone.

The third annual David A. Stein Memorial Award – fondly named the “Tzimmie” – will be voted on by this year’s specially selected jury and awarded on opening night at The Bloor Cinema. The tribute comes with a $5,000 cash prize. This year the esteemed Jurors include Studio 180 co-founder Joel Greenberg, a Chalmers and Dora award-winning playwright and director who has directed and/or choreographed more than 100 professional productions across Canada; Daniel Iron, who has been legal counsel at Telefilm Canada, a partner at Rhombus Media where he produced features and TV series, and the founder of his own production company Foundry Films Inc., responsible for many acclaimed TV series and feature films; and Helga Stephenson, of the Public Relations firm Daniels/Stephenson, best known for her work as Executive Director of the Toronto International Film Festival. As well, Stephenson is a co-founder of Human Rights Watch Canada Committee and Chair of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival and the Reykjavik International Film Festival.  David Stein was a gifted filmmaker who died suddenly in 2004, at the age of 34.  His loving and supportive family chose to remember him in a manner consistent with his passion for film. 

Now in year three, FilmMatters, TJFF’s educational outreach programme, offers free screenings of films that explore cultural and religious diversity. Through the generous support of the Trillium Foundation and Cineplex Entertainment, FilmMatters uses film year-round to build bridges between communities. Each screening at the Bloor Cinema is followed by a guest speaker, and teachers are provided with detailed Study Guides.  This year FilmMatters presents films that are relevant to courses across the curriculum. Teachers of history will be familiar with the case of Leo Frank, a white Jewish man who was lynched after being wrongfully convicted for the rape and murder of a young girl who worked in his factory. The People v. Leo Frank offers a thought-provoking look at racial and religious prejudice in the early part of the 20th century. Heart of Stone explores the relationships between Blacks and Jews in contemporary society. Before the race riots of the 1960s, Weequahic High School in Newark, N.J., was one of the top schools in the U.S., comprised mostly of middle-class Jewish students. By the time Ron Stone became principal in 2001, it was one of the most violent schools in America. To restore WHS to its former glory, Stone worked with gang members to create a non-violence zone and enlisted alumni, mostly older, white Jewish males and young African-Americans, to raise scholarship funds and encourage the pursuit of education. The combined efforts of Stone and the alumni group gave these students something they had not had for generations: a future.  FilmMatters is also thrilled to offer students the chance to meet Dr. Rick Hodes, whose efforts in securing life-saving surgeries for children in Ethiopia have earned him the distinction of being one of CNN’s Heroes in 2007. Dr. Hodes will be here for a screening of Making the Crooked Straight, a documentary about him that played to a full house at last year’s Festival.  Finally, the documentary Off and Running offers new insight into the issue of interracial adoption. Avery is an African-American teenager who lives with her adoptive white, Jewish, lesbian parents. Avery’s decision to contact her birth mother sparks a complicated exploration of race and identity, highlighting the complexities of interracial adoption.
All screenings are held at 10 A.M. at The Bloor Cinema. 

Finally, TJFF closes out the 18th year with the Oscar-nominated Ajami, a not-to-be-missed film from Israel, and directed by Scandar Copti, and Yaron Shani, an Israeli Arab and Israeli Jew.  This powerful film uses five interconnected stories to explore the lives of the Christian, Muslim and Jewish inhabitants in the mixed Jaffa neighbourhood of Ajami. Ajami is the winner of the Wolgin Award and the Ophir Prize for Best Israeli Film 2009.

 As always, TJFF also offers several free events—please check the website http://www.tjff.com/  for details.

The Toronto Jewish Film Festival gratefully acknowledges its major sponsors:  Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, The Ontario Trillium Foundation, Sun TV, Cineplex Entertainment LP, C.A. Delaney Capital Management Ltd., MIJO Corporation, Toronto Star, The Sutton Place Hotel, UJA Federation and Shirley Granovsky, Marsha Bronfman and Zukerman Family Foundation.

The Festival screens at four theatres – the Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor St. W. at Bathurst St.), the Al Green Theatre, Miles Nadal JCC (750 Spadina Ave. at Bloor St. W.), Cineplex Odeon Sheppard Centre Cinemas (4861 Yonge St. at Sheppard Ave.) and SilverCity Richmond Hill Cinemas (8771 Yonge St.).

All films at the Festival are rated by the Ontario Film Review Board. The ratings can be viewed on the website.

Toronto Jewish Film Festival 2010
Festival dates – April 17 to 25
Media Launch  – March 22
Advance Box Offices:
19 Madison – April 1 to 17 (downstairs – no wheelchair access)
Monday to Friday – 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday – 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Cineplex Odeon Sheppard Centre CinemasApril 11 to 17
Monday to Friday – 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm – (Closed Good Friday & Easter Monday)
Phone Orders – April 1 to 25 – 416.967.1528
Monday to Friday – 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday – 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Festival Box Offices:
Al Green – April 17 or 18 to 25
Open 1 hour before the 1st screening day of and closed 30 minutes after the start of last screening of the day
Cineplex Odeon Sheppard Centre CinemasApril 18 to 25
This box office will not be open on Friday April 23.
Opens 1 hour before the 1st screening day of and closes 30 minutes after start of last screening of the day
Bloor Cinema – April 17 to 25
Opens 1 hour before the 1st screening day of and closes 30 minutes after start of last screening of the day
SilverCity Richmond Hill – April 18 to 25
This box office will not be open on Friday April 23.
Opens 1 hour before the 1st screening day of and closes 30 minutes after start of last screening of the day
General Information
TJFF Box Office Phone Number: 416.967.1528
Or 
The Toronto Jewish Film Festival
Online. http://www.tjff.com/

PassesThe Really Flexible Pass 
20 films (excluding Opening Night and Special Presentations) for the price of $140
The Weekday Special
All films before 5 pm Monday to Friday $60
The Richmond Hill Pass
Any screening up to a maximum of 10 films only at SilverCity Richmond Hill $60

All passes and tickets are subject to availability. With a pass you still need to obtain a ticket for each screening. Passes entitle customers to one ticket per film. There will be no admittance 15 minutes after the start of a screening.  

Free Student Admission
Subject to availability. Five minutes prior to each screening, students with ID will be admitted for free from a Rush Line.