Despite my lifelong interest in movies and earning a degree in Studies in Cinema/Media Culture at the University of Minnesota, I had never attended a film festival before. After attending a showing of Matchmaking on Nov. 4 at Showplace Icon to kick off the Twin Cities Jewish Film Festival, I am very grateful for this to have been my first experience.
Matchmaking centers on Moti, an Ashkenazi Jew who falls in love with Nechami, a Sephardic Jew, despite the objections of his family and the local matchmaker in his Orthodox community. Accordingly, Moti pretends to be blind in order for them to be set up.
To begin, some of Matchmaking’s flaws; after all no movie is perfect. The movie takes a while to get to its central premise, spending too much time on superfluous characters and storylines (such as Moti’s peers at his yeshiva, prospective matches, and unsuccessful dates). This is to the detriment of the story, because I found it difficult to determine its main focus, and it took time away from the development of Moti and Nechami’s relationship.
However, the story improves once Moti begins his relationship with Nechami. We feel the chemistry between them, and the way they are each impacted by stigma. Additionally, Moti’s scheme brings in some very enjoyable comedy.
Ultimately, the comedic and heartfelt nature of the story’s middle and end is what saved the movie for me.
When Matchmaking finished, there was an afterparty at the Showplace Icon bar, with live music from Jewbalaya, drinks and dancing. The post-show extras have become a staple of the TCJFF.
I really loved going to this party for the opportunity to experience Jewbalaya’s unique and masterful combination of New Orleans and klezmer genres. Their music, in addition to the frequent circle dancing, made for a lively night.
All in all, a good movie and a vivacious afterparty made for an unforgettable first film festival experience.
The Twin Cities Jewish Film Festival will run until Nov. 18, with more information available on the JCC website.