JFI: WinterFest 2019

February 17 only

WinterFest 2019 is the Jewish Film Institute’s showcase of exciting and transcendent Jewish films from around the world. 



CARL LAEMMLE is the extraordinary life story of the German Jewish immigrant who, as much as anyone, invented the modern motion picture business. The man whose motto was, “It can be done,” fought and ultimately conquered Thomas Edison’s attempts to monopolize the film industry. Creating Universal Pictures in 1912, Laemmle would go on to give many Hollywood legends their starts, including Walt Disney, John Ford, William Wyler, Irving Thalberg, and others. He also hired many women directors and made Lois Weber the highest paid director on his lot. Under Laemmle’s leadership, Universal would become known for its classic monster movies (The Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein, Dracula, etc.). When he sold Universal in 1936, Carl would go on to do something far more important than any movie or studio he had created: battling Adolph Hitler’s government and a notoriously anti-Semitic U.S. State Department, Laemmle ultimately rescued over 300 Jewish refugee families from Nazi Germany.


A story of the only transgender family in a small town in Israel who’s lives change completely after their father decides to become a women. Their mother chooses to stay with him through the whole process but as it seems that life is back to normal, she takes a sharp turn and shifts everything upside down. This is a story about a family that does not respond to dictates; A family that breaks social conventions; A family that changes what we thought we knew about gender, parity, parenthood and transgenderism. But most of all, it is a story about a family that redefines the limits of recognition, acceptance and love of those closest to us.


THE GHOST OF PETER SELLERS by Jewish director Peter Medak, who fled Hungary in 1956, tells the tale of his ill-fated Hollywood 17th Century pirate comedy shot in Cyprus starring Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan in 1973. The original ‘Ghost’ movie was shot mostly on the Mediterranean sea on real ships which nobody had ever dared to attempt before. Even before shooting began, the Greek Captain delivering the Pirate ship to Kyrenia’s magnificent 7th Century harbor was so drunk that he crashed the ship into the Quay. The production descended further after Peter Sellers lost confidence in the film and fired the Producers and then the Director of Photography.

Structured around Medak and his journey back to the island 42 years later, THE GHOST OF PETER SELLERS is a timeline of events supported by eye-opening and heart-felt interviews with remaining cast members, production staff, Cypriot locals and others from the world of filmmaking. From Los Angeles to New York, from London to Cyprus, Medak recaptures what it was like to work with the genius talents of Sellers and Milligan whilst explaining the saga of the pirate film and how such a brilliant and funny idea could go so terribly wrong and become a total disaster.


Menachem, a widowed father of Geula, aged 7, is a former rock singer, a man who found religion and made a drastic change in his life, and has left everything behind to become part of the Ultraorthodox Jewish community. Now, in order to finance Geula’s cancer treatments, he needs to enlist friends from his rock n’ roll past to play at Ultraorthodox Jewish weddings. Each one of them is now in a different place, a different state of mind, but they all follow him in order to help his daughter. Against his will, he finds himself getting closer and closer to his past, until his former group members want to revive their rock band all together. This is his secret desire yet his biggest fear. With Geula,’s help he finds the road to his redemption and reconciles his past. Expertly directed by Joseph Madmony (A Place in Heaven, Restoration).

HOME PAGE – 8:00pm

The year is 1996, and documentary filmmaker Doug Block fascinated by this new thing called the internet, trains his wry, analytical lens on the burgeoning home page (i.e. blogging) phenomenon. He soon falls under the spell of 21-year old cyber superstar Justin Hall, whose (literally) bare-all online diary spares no details about friends, family, lovers and, inevitably, Block himself. When Hall goads the filmmaker into keeping his own online diary, the story takes an unexpectedly personal turn, with hilarious and deeply affecting results. This special 20th anniversary re-release confirms Home Page to be an astonishingly prescient historical document of our confession-crazed culture. It reintroduces the film that established Block as one of the foremost directors of the personal documentary form (51 Birch Street, The Kids Grow Up, 112 Weddings). And it highlights the birth of The D-Word (www.d-word.com), which has transformed over the past 20 years from Block’s personal blog into the internet’s foremost documentary community.

Director Doug Block and Subject Justin Hall in person!



JFI: WinterFest 2019: Upcoming Showtimes