Mobile Jewish Film Festival's winter film series returns

Staff Report
Posted 1/6/23

The 22nd-annual Mobile Jewish Film Festival's winter film series returns in person for the first time since early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Festival goers will be able to discuss the films …

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Mobile Jewish Film Festival's winter film series returns


The 22nd-annual Mobile Jewish Film Festival's winter film series returns in person for the first time since early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Festival goers will be able to discuss the films once again with others, enjoy receptions and great food.

This year, for the first time, a live theatrical performance is part of the festival thanks to a partnership with the Joe Jefferson Players.

The festival kicks off Sunday, Jan. 8, with the 2 p.m. showing of "Farewell, Mr. Haffman," at Springhill Avenue Temple. This edge-of-your-seat drama has won numerous audience awards around the country including the prestigious San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.

The festival returns to the Temple Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 7 p.m. with a fascinating documentary, "Why the Jew?" The film reveals a startling link between a people's stunning achievements and the darkest moments in their history.

The Mobile Jewish Film Festival partners with the Joe Jefferson Players and director Eric Browne to present the one-act play "Anne and Emmett," an imaginary conversation between Anne Frank and Emmett Till, both victims of racial intolerance and hatred. Frank is the 13-year-old Jewish girl whose diary provided a gripping perspective on the Holocaust. Till is the 14-year-old African American boy whose brutal murder in Mississippi sparked the American Civil Rights Movement. There is a limited number of free tickets for the performance Thursday, Jan. 12. The play will have its regular run Friday, Jan. 13, Saturday, Jan. 14, and Sunday, Jan. 15. There will also be student performances of this compelling play as part of the Julien Marx Student Holocaust Film Series, a vital part of the festival.

The festival resumes in Fairhope at the University of South Alabama Performance Center Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 7 p.m. with the film, "The Man in the Basement." In this taut psychological thriller, a Parisian architect sells his flat's unused cellar to a former history teacher who is well-mannered and seemingly normal. But when he takes up residence, the stranger's secret life as an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist emerges. Provocative and superbly acted, this nightmare scenario based on a true story, will keep audiences guessing from one unsettling moment to the next. Author Roy Hoffman will lead a discussion following the film.

The festival moves to the Mobile Museum of Art Thursday, Jan. 19, at 3 p.m. for the documentary, "Bad Nazi, Good Nazi," the extraordinary story of German officer Wilm Hosenfeld, who was immortalized in Roman Polanski's film as the Nazi who saved "The Pianist's" life. Incredibly, Szpilman (the pianist) is just one of 60 people Hosenfeld saved. A group of hometown supporters are inspired to have Hosenfeld memorialized at the local school he led before enlisting in Hitler's army. But the villagers struggle to come to terms with the complicated legacy of a man they want to forget—a Nazi officer. Jewish Studies professor David Meola will lead a discussion after the film.

"The Man in the Basement" will be the first of three films screening on the campus of the University of South Alabama (USA) in the Laidlaw Performing Arts Center. It will be shown Tuesday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. Again, Roy Hoffman will lead a discussion after the film.

On Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m., we film, "The Narrow Bridge," will be presented. This is a searching journey into the souls of four people who have lost a child or parent in violent conflict. The film follows the paths of these broken-hearted people, "Israeli Palestinian Bereaved Families," who stand side-by-side to end the violence and build a future based on dignity and equality. Despite fierce political and family opposition, they refuse to give up.

The third film at USA Thursday, Jan. 26, is "Rose." The film stars actress and director Françoise Fabian as a recent widow hesitantly engaging with the world while emerging from under her children's straitjacketing. Fabian's portrayal suffuses the character Rose with engaging charm and sensitive depth. There will be a lot to discuss about the film as you enjoy a dessert reception following the film.

The final film of the 2023 festival is "Exodus 91," Sunday, Jan. 29, at Ahavas Chesed Synagogue at 2 p.m. The film is a political thriller that takes us behind the scenes of "Operation Solomon," the daring military and diplomatic rescue mission to bring thousands of Ethiopians, facing war and famine, to Israel. The film follows Israeli diplomat, Asher Naim, on a seemingly insurmountable mission. As Asher learns more about these African Jews, he finds himself between worlds and facing a crisis of faith in himself and his country. A closing reception follows the film.

All the 2023 festival films will be available virtually as well as in person. To learn more, to see trailers and to buy tickets, visit Tickets may be purchased separately, or a festival pass may be purchased for $55. For more information call the Mobile Area Jewish Federation office at (251) 490-4872.