The Berkshire Jewish Film Festival will feature 14 movies from July 8 to Aug. 12. These four are set for the opening of the festival.
PITTSFIELD— The Berkshire Jewish Film Festival (BJFF) has announced its 33rd season. Held on six Mondays from July 8, through Aug.12, in the Duffin Theater, Lenox Memorial High School, 197 East St., Lenox, Mass., BJFF will present 14 films from a variety of countries including the United States, Israel, Germany and from Latin America. All presentations are open to the public.
The festival opens at 4 p.m. on July 8 with two short films.“Beneath the Ink” is inspired by current events. An Appalachia tattoo artist donates his services to erase symbols of hate from those seeking to reverse past, bigoted mistakes. It will be followed by “The Barn,” which tells the story a Holocaust survivor and his granddaughter who travel to Poland and reunite with his savior as they all share a journey of memory and rediscovery. The 52 minute movie was directed by Phil Berger and was co -produced by Nancy Spielberg and Rachel Kastner.
At 8 p.m. two films are slated, In the short “I Heart NY” celebrated Hungarian-Jewish graphic designer Milton Glaser shares the inspiration behind the creation of his iconic I♥NY logo. His love affair with the Big Apple is reflected in imagery of the city’s energy and cultural diversity. The 90 minute “The Mamboniks” directed by Lex Gillespie, portrays the 1950s, free-spirited, mostly Jewish dancers from New York City who fell head over heels for the mambo, the hot dance from Havana, Cuba. The film features a zany group of retirees, still dancing to the Latin rhythms.
BJFF presents “Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People” a documentary recounting the life and times of modern journalism’s founding father on July 15 at 4 p.m. The biography heralds freedom of the press. At 8 p.m. “Rescue Bus 300, a tense docudrama tells the story of the 1984 hijacking/rescue of a bus making its way from Tel Aviv to Ashkelon, Israel.
The festival continues on July 22 at 4 p.m. with “The Accountant of Auschwitz.” More than 40 years after serving as an SS officer at Auschwitz, Oskar Gröning told the world what he had done; his admission led to his trial for complicity in the murder of 300,000 Jews. A new generation is reopening investigations against the living perpetrators of some of history’s worst crimes. At 8 p.m. in “Holy Lands” James Caan leads an all-star cast as a retired American cardiologist who leaves everything behind to become a pig farmer in Israel. This comedic family drama is a wry and moving tale of a dysfunctional family––with an ex-wife (Rosanna Arquette), an alienated son, and a perennial student daughter––striving for reconciliation and acceptance.
“Ask Dr. Ruth” at 4 p.m. on July 29 is a documentary portrait chronicling the life of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a Holocaust survivor who became America’s most famous sex therapist. In “Leona” at 8 p.m. a young Jewish woman from Mexico City finds herself torn between her family and her forbidden love. There are no easy choices to be made as she struggles to take the best path. (Mature content).
“Shoelaces” will be shown at 4 p.m. on Aug. 5. This tender family dramedy portrays the knotty relationship between an aging, irascible mechanic and the exuberant special-needs son he had abandoned. At 8 p.m. in “The Unorthodox,” a disenfranchised Sephardic father, whose daughter is expelled from a prestigious religious school in Israel just for her ethnicity, launches the ultra- Orthodox Shas Party, a nascent challenge to the ruling Ashkenazi establishment in Israel.
The concluding films on Aug. 12 are at 4 p.m. “93Queen” which relates the life of Rachel “Ruchie” Freier, a no-nonsense Chasidic lawyer and mother of six who was determined to shake up the ‘boys club’ in her community. She created Ezras Nashim, the first all-female ambulance corps in NYC. In “The Other Story” at 8 p.m. two rebellious young women, one fleeing the chaos of secular hedonism for the comforts of faith, the other seeking to escape her oppressive religious upbringing for sexual and spiritual freedom, cross paths unexpectedly in Jerusalem.
Matinees are $7 and evening film showings are $10. All seating is general admission. Information may be obtained at www.berkshirejewishfilmfestival.org or 413-445-4872, ext. 10.