A Smorgasbord of Jewish films at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival

Jewish themes, directors, actors, plots, and subtexts. And no, I’m not talking about the Minneapolis Jewish film festival at the Sabes JCC in Minneapolis (which is still going on until April 18, btw).
Tonight is the opening night of the 2010 Minneapolis – Saint Paul International Film Festival, which features 145 films from 50 countries over the span of 2 weeks and is billed as the “biggest film event in the Upper Midwest.” Overwhelmingly awesome, if you ask me. All the films will be shown at the St. Anthony Main Theatre, 125 Main Street S.E. in Minneapolis.
Read about all of the films (and accompanying events, including talks by directors, screen-writers, and pretty cool parties) on the 2010 Minneapolis – Saint Paul International Film Festival website. My recommendations? I have no idea. Really, I haven’t seen any of them. And we’d probably disagree any way about quality, style, etc.

BUT……… You wanted to hear about which of the films in the festival were Jewish

(Note: not all of these movies are Jewish, per se; some are about Jews, or a person who happens to be Jewish, and some are Israeli films. Just sayin’).

Here’s the list, thanks to the American Jewish World newspaper. Click the links and learn more. If you see any of these movies, add your thoughts to the comments, especially if its a movie with two showings. Thanks!

  • Nora’s Will – “A master Machiavellian-style planner, an elderly woman named Nora has planned her death, down to the smallest detail. But even as she meticulously orchestrates the lives of those closest to her, most especially her ex-husband José, the contents of a mysterious photograph suggests other possibilities.” April 26 and April 29.
  • Baluty Ghetto – “Before World War II, Baluty was a feared crime-ridden neighborhood in the Polish city of Ludtz. Immediately after occupying Poland, the Nazis established the infamous ghetto which housed more than 200,000 Jews awaiting starvation and death. Today, it is a poor, working-class district as new residents struggle daily to make their way facing very different adversaries: poverty, unemployment, alcoholism and violence.” April 21 and April 29.
  • Casino Jack and the United States of Money – “Infuriating, yet undeniably fun to watch, Casino Jackis a saga of greed and corruption with a cynical villain audiences will love to hate.” April 24 and April 28.
  • Eyes Wide Open – “Living in one of Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox quarters, Aaron (veteran stage actor Zohar Strauss) runs a kosher butcher shop and is the father of four young sons. His quiet life is disrupted when the arrival of the lost soul Ezri (Israeli heartthrob Ran Danker) awakens dormant feelings.” April 17 and April 21.
  • Harlan: In the Shadow of Jew Suss – “Veit Harlan was the Third Reich’s most successful filmmaker. SS officers were required to view his notorious anti-Semitic melodrama Jew Süss. Harlan was the only Nazi artist tried for war crimes, and, although acquitted, his tainted past dogged him to the grave. Harlan’s story is interesting in itself, however, but what raises this documentary to another level is its focus on the effects of Harlan’s infamy upon his own family.” April 20 and 28.
  • Kirsten Flagstads Square – “Kirsten Flagstad (1895-1962) is one of history’s greatest operatic voices, particularly famous for her fantastic Wagner interpretations. Her golden years were the interwar period, when she sang at opera houses around the world. Then World War II broke out.” April 18.
  • A War in Hollywood – “This in-depth portrayal defining the  Spanish Civil War through Hollywood eyes and its committed screenwriters is told through the  personal story of Alvah Bessie, of  the  Hollywood liberal establishment, who also fought against Franco as part of the International Brigade.” April 20 and April 27
  • The Living – “In 1932-33, as millions of Ukranians died in Holodomor, the terror-famine in Ukraine, British journalist Gareth Jones fought to expose the tragedy to the world.  This award winning film employs Soviet-era propaganda films, survivor testimonials, and Jones’ own diaries to portray a chilling chapter in Soviet history.” April 25.
  • The Woman with 5 Elephants – “The film interweaves Swetlana Geier’s life story with her literary work and traces the secret of what drives this inexhaustibly driven woman. Winner of the Best Documentary Film Award at the European Film Awards, December 2009.” April 23 and April 29.
  • For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism – “For the Love of Movies is an entertaining homage to the art of writing about the movies and a survey of the history of cinema as well. Director Gerald Peary, the Boston Phoenix film critic, attempts to answer the question of what leads otherwise sane writers to pursue careers writing about movies.” April 17 and April 18.
  • Ward 6 – “This brilliant contemporary take on the oft-filmed Chekhov novella takes the story, about the head of a hospital whose fascination with a patient in the lunatic wing leads to his own incarceration there, and transposes it into the middle of a faux documentary.” April 18 and April 23.

Photo: Jewlicious