Jackson is set to receive a fresh dose of Jewish culture this weekend, as the 5th annual Jackson Jewish Film Festival kicks off this Saturday. Thanks to the efforts of Jewish Cinema South, this year's festival should have something for just about everybody, with an eclectic mix of films designed to show different aspects of Jewish life. Beginning this Saturday and running through Tuesday, Oct. 24, daily screenings of these multiple-award winning films will be held at the Millsaps College Recital Hall, opening up with a Saturday evening sponsor reception. After the overwhelming success of last year's festival, this year's event is sure to please film buffs as well as those seeking a jumpstart of Judaism.
Organized by Jewish Cinema South, an offshoot of the Jackson-based Institute of Southern Jewish Life, the traveling film festival has its first stop in Jackson, followed by screenings in Alabama and Louisiana. Each festival is showing its own mix of films designed to give an insight into some form of Jewish life—while still keeping you entertained, of course. But don't be mistaken; these movies are intended to relate to everyone, with universal themes that appeal to anybody. Though the films are based around elements of Jewish life, you "don't have to be Jewish to understand them," says Robyn Pollack, the festival's publicist. The films are chosen by a volunteer panel and are "designed to show a broad range of Jewish culture," she says.
Opening night starts off with Radu Mihaileanu's "Live and Become," a film set in the mid-1980s during "Operation Moses," the massive airlift evacuation of thousands of Ethiopian Jewish refugees. The story follows a Christian boy who, also seeking escape from his homeland, takes the place of a Jewish boy scheduled for the airlift who died.
The following day is an afternoon presentation of a collection of five comedic short films. The day starts off with Tiffany Shlain's "The Tribe: An Unorthodox, Unauthorized History of the Jewish People and the Barbie Doll ... in About 15 Minutes," the Sundance-winning short that ties in the history of Jewish people with how it relates to the Barbie Doll, and ends with another Sundance pick, "West Bank Story." This musical comedy is set among competing falafel stands in the West Bank, guaranteeing "a little singing, a little dancing, and a lot of hummus."
Closing night will feature Etyan Fox's "Walk on Water," the highly acclaimed story of an Israeli secret service agent given the task of tracking down a Nazi war criminal by getting close to him through his grandchildren.
The Jackson Jewish Film Festival runs at Millsaps, Oct. 21-24.
I want to give a personal recommendation for the Jewish Film Fest. Some of the best films and docs I have. ever. seen. have been part of this festival. It's wonderful for Jews and non-Jews alike. Do this if you can. Truly.