Take a look at the glossy, full-color brochure. Even if there were no words on the cover, you'd still get the gist from the graphics—a Menorrah, a film projector reel and a glass of iced tea with lemon and mint. Jewish Cinema South returns to Jackson Oct. 16-19.
Jacksonians reap the benefits of the efforts of the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life. Naturally, the Institute hopes that viewers will be enriched and moved by these films. On a deeper level, however, it is hoped that people will join in discussing points raised by the films, questioning, focusing, building community bridges toward tolerance and understanding of cultures, religions and generations.
This was certainly true last year, as audiences of various cultures packed the auditoriums to see films rich in both Jewish culture, and that captured historical intersections of Jews with Christians, Africans, African Americans and others. The films made you laugh, cry, understand—and they promise to again this year.
The multi-award-winning German film "Gloomy Sunday" opens the festival. Taking its name from a popular 1930s song full of grief and longing, the film involves a pre-World War II Budapest, a restaurant and the love-triangle that works there, and, yes, the song itself. Jackson's own Lisa Palmer performs the song—recorded by Billie Holiday in 1941—accompanied by pianist Josh Wiener. The same pair performed another song popularized by Holiday at last year's Jackson festival—"Strange Fruit"—prior to the showing of a film about the lynching song's history. From the brochure: "Lush cinematography, magnificent score, superb acting and a compelling story, make this an unforgettable cinematic experience." The film is in German, with English subtitles, and has adult material—nudity and adult themes.
Sunday afternoon's offering begins at 2 p.m. Five comedy shorts—"Advice and Dissent," "A Good Uplift," "Black Hats & Short Skirts," "Obsessed with Jews" and "Gossip"—are the order of the day. Ranging in length from seven to 21 minutes, these shorts cover an even wider range of topics, tied together by their observations of Jewish life. "Advice and Dissent" is a thoughtful romantic comedy. "Black Hats & Short Skirts" explores the conflicts between the religious, the secular—in society and individuals. A Jewish grandmother and her New York City lingerie shop are the subjects of "A Good Uplift." Neil Keller and his collection of over 7,000 pieces of ephemera dealing with prominent Jews is the subject of "Obsessed with Jews" while "Gossip" is the story of a rumor's being bandied about at a wedding.
Everyone who has a child interested in a deeper understanding of world history and why it must be studied should bring that child to Monday's showing of "Paper Clips." In 1998 students, at Whitwell Middle School, in a Tennessee mountain town of 2000—white and Christian, for the most part—began a project spurred on by their principal's wish that they learn about the diversity in the world outside the one they knew. This 52-minute film tells the story of their research into the Holocaust. These students decided to collect 6 million paper clips as a way to grasp the reality of that number—the number of Holocaust victims. From the brochure: "The film details how the students met Holocaust survivors from around the world, and how the experience transformed not only them, but their entire community as well."
Closing out the festival on Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. is "Taking Sides." which tells the story of Wilheim Furtwängler, conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, and his supposed collaboration with the Nazis. From the brochure, "The film delves into the responsibility of the individual in a dictatorship, and the sometimes intractable mix of art and politics."
Tickets for the festival went on sale on Sept. 15, but they will be sold at the door, space permitting, 30 minutes prior to each screening. General admission: $10, adults; $5, children—per screening. For advance tickets, call 956-6215.
Jewish Cinema South 2004 Schedule
Gloomy Sunday," Oct. 16, 7 p.m., Millsaps College Recital Hall, 1701 North State St.
"Comedy Shorts," Oct. 17, 2 p.m., ETV Auditorium, 3825 Ridgewood Road
"Paper Clips," Oct. 18, 7 p.m., St. Andrews North Campus, 370 Old Agency Road, Ridgeland
"Taking Sides," Oct. 19, 7 p.m., ETV Auditorium, 3825 Ridgewood Road