In November, The Jewish Museum and Film Society of the Lincoln Center announced that the 28th New York Jewish Film Festival (NYJFF) will be held from January 9 – January 22, 2019. The annual cultural event presents the finest narratives, documentaries and short films on the Jewish experience each year and will feature new work and restored classics by international filmmakers. The 2019 lineup includes 30 wide-ranging features ranging from iconic to iconoclastic.
On opening day, the festival kicks off with Eric Barbier’s epic film Promise at Dawn which stars Charlotte Gainsbourg and Pierre Niney. The memoir details the colorful life of the infamous French author Romain Garey from his childhood conning Polish high society until his service in the Free French Air Forces.
The film festival’s centerpiece selection showcases the 3.5 hour miniseries, Autonomies, directed by Yehonatan Indursky. Set amidst an alternative reality in present-day Israel, the dystopian drama depicts a custody battle between two warring factions: the State of Israel and an ultra-Orthodox Haredi autonomy. The universal tale focuses on themes of identity, religion, love, politics and personal freedom.
Both returning and new filmmakers will make their mark on the festival this year. Amos Gitai returns with a cerebral drama, A Tramway in Jerusalem, which connects short vignettes of the city’s Arab and Jewish life with the tramway as the film’s thematic and metaphorical vehicle. Additionally, first-time director Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian will premiere Fig Tree in the U.S. The drama follows a young woman who plans to flee to Israel during the Ethiopian Civil War with her family, but not before trying to save her Christian boyfriend from the draft.
Documentaries will also explore the power of Jewish history and heritage. Roberta Grossman’s gripping documentary Who Will Write Our History? uses archival material uncovered after WWII to tell the story of a resistance group in the Warsaw Ghetto during Nazi occupation and examines the everyday life in occupied Warsaw. Guests might also want to check out Dear Freddy from Rubi Gat. The documentary tells the story of a proud and openly gay Jew in Nazi Germany who later protected hundreds of children in the Theresienstadt and Auschwitz concentration camps by setting up a day care center.
Special programs will premiere the new digital restoration of Ewald Andrew Dupont’s 1923 silent film, The Ancient Law, with a new score and live accompaniment by pianist Donald Sosin and violinist Alicia Svigals.
The NYJFF is among the oldest and most prominent Jewish film festivals in the world and is made possible by the Martin and Doris Payson Fund for Film and Media. Devoted to preserving and elevating art and culture, The Jewish Museum and Film Society of the Lincoln Center have remained honored hosts of the event since the festival’s establishment in 1992, helping to double the event in size and scope.
Shining a spotlight on our Jewish heritage is a great way to encourage a shared passion for film and an understanding of Jewish history and culture. Check out the list of the full lineup at the Film Society of the Lincoln Center’s website. Screenings will be shown at the Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street in NYC.