Toronto Jewish FIlm Festival – April 11 to 21, 2013 – Announcing Opening and Closing Night Film Presentations

Excerpt from CowJews and Indians on Vimeocowjews_nagila

Announcing Opening and Closing Night Film Presentations:

CowJews and Indians: How Hitler Scared My Relatives and I Woke Up in an Iroquois Longhouse—Owing the Mohawks Rent
written and directed by Marc Halberstadt
opens the 21st edition of the Festival on April 11

Hava Nagila (The Movie)
written and directed by Roberta Grossma

will close the Festival on April 21

The 21st annual Toronto Jewish Film Festival opens April 11 with CowJews and Indians: How Hitler Scared My Relatives and I Woke Up in an Iroquois Longhouse—Owing the Mohawks Rent – a film about righting history’s wrongs, that’s been dubbed “Borat meets Michael Moore.”

And the Festival will end, 10 busy days later, with Hava Nagila (The Movie), a fond, fun and insightful look at the history of the song that represents both Jewish kitsch and continuity.

TJFF is proud to kick things off with Marc Halberstadt’s playfully provocative CowJews and Indians. This sardonically funny film draws a straight line between the meagre reparations his family received from Germany in 1951 for Nazi-confiscated property, and the ongoing patchwork of treaties and outright land theft that has been the legacy of North American aboriginals.

As Halberstadt tries to get back the property that his parents lost to the Nazis, he realizes that the land his family fled to and settled on in America had been seized from Native Americans, to whom, in fairness, he now owes 65 years of back rent. Then it hits him – why not let the Native Americans collect directly from the Germans? Cut out the middleman! As former Mohawk chief Cheryl Jacobs says, “I think Marc is an idiot for even coming up with the idea.”

Writer/Director Marc Halberstadt and Tekahnawiiaks King will be in attendance for the opening night. The screening will be co-presented with the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival.

Hava Nagila, meanwhile, is instantly recognizable – musical shorthand for anything Jewish, a happy party tune at weddings, bar mitzvahs and in movies. It conjures up warmth, nostalgia – and no shortage of eye rolling. But as related in Roberta Grossman’s Hava Nagila(The Movie), the song represents more than Jewish kitsch. It carries with it an entire constellation of history, values and hopes for the future.

Featuring often-surprising interviews with Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis, Glen Campbell, Leonard Nimoy, Regina Spektor and more, Hava Nagila (The Movie) follows the song from the shtetls of Eastern Europe to the kibbutzim of Palestine to the cul-de-sacs of America.  It stops at key pop-cultural points – from Belafonte’s upbeat ‘50s version to Bob Dylan’s deliberately dissonant Talkin’ Hava Negiliah Blues to Allan Sherman’s Harvey and Sheila, and Lena Horne’s civil rights anthem Now – both set to the tune of Hava Nagila.

Writer/director Roberta Grossman’s last film, Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh, was shortlisted for an Academy Award, won the audience award at 13 film festivals, was broadcast on PBS and nominated for a Primetime Emmy.

The Toronto Jewish Film Festival presents the best feature films, documentaries and shorts from around the world, on themes of Jewish culture and identity.  The Festival is dedicated to using film for its contemporary popular value and accessibility, in order to reflect the diversity of the Jewish experience internationally.  The TJFF provides an opportunity to heighten awareness of Jewish and cultural diversity around the world, to audiences of all cultural backgrounds, and to present films in their original languages with subtitles, in an effort to break down racial, cultural and religious barriers and stereotypes.

A limited block of advance tickets for both events are available for purchase online at TJFF.COM.  Enter access code: TJFF12

Box office info.

Festival dates – April 11 – 21

Early Bird Flexible passes – available online only until Friday, March 22

Full Festival Film Schedule available –online at as of Monday March 25  

TJFF Ticket Pricing:

$13.00 – Single Tickets

$8.00 – Matinee Screenings

$9 – Seniors/ Students

$20.00 – Opening Night and Special Presentations

Main Number to Call is Festival Box Office: