THE WORLD’S LARGEST Jewish film festival begins Jan. 24 in Atlanta, with comedy, drama, foreign and independent films showing at venues around the city.
Alone in Berlin (2016, 103 mins) opens the 2017 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. The U.S.-made World War II drama features Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson as an ordinary working-class German couple quietly waging a personal campaign of anti-Nazi resistance. The film is inspired by a true story and adapted from Hans Fallada’s international best-seller of the same name. It screens at Jan. 24 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, just after its Jan. 13 commercial release.
The Women’s Balcony (2016, 96 mins) closes the fest on Feb. 15. The comical, feminist film was nominated for five Israeli Academy Awards, and follows what happens when a bar mitzvah mishap causes a major rift in a devout Orthodox community in Jerusalem. It screens at the Woodruff Arts Center’s Symphony Hall.
Family Commitments (2015, 85 mins) will screen on Young Professionals Night at the Woodruff. In this culture-clash screwball comedy from Germany, ethnic identity, family dysfunction and an unexpected pregnancy complicate the nuptials of an Arab-Jewish gay couple. See it Feb. 11.
The 16th annual AJFF will screen 76 films during its 23 days. Although the full lineup won’t be shared until Jan. 6, organizers have let slip a few titles. Note: Tickets will go on sale Jan. 18.
Bang! The Bert Berns Story | USA 2016, 94 mins
Music meets the mob in this rock-docu-bio of 1960s hitmaker and 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Bert Berns. Berns wrote or co-wrote such classics as “Twist and Shout,” “Piece of My Heart,” “Hang on Sloopy” and “Under the Boardwalk.”
Across the Waters | Denmark 2016, 94 mins
A Jewish musician and his family make a frantic escape from Nazi-occupied Denmark in a fact-based story of survival and rescue. This screening marks the film’s North American debut.
Freedom to Marry | USA 2016, 86 mins
This documentary about the marriage equality movement presents portraits of such central figures as gay rights advocate Evan Wolfson and civil rights attorney Mary Bonauto. It will be released commercially March 3.
The Last Laugh | USA 2016, 88 mins
Is there humor in the Holocaust or are some topics out of bounds? This documentary offers insights from such comedians as Mel Brooks, Gilbert Gottfried, Carl Reiner, Chris Rock, Harry Shearer and Sarah Silverman as well as Holocaust survivors and Jewish leaders.
On the Map | USA 2016, 85 mins
This documentary tells the against-all-odds story of Maccabi Tel Aviv’s 1977 European Basketball Championship, which took place while the Middle East was still reeling from the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It includes appearances from NBA Commissioner David Stern and all-star player turned commentator Bill Walton.
Paradise | Russia-Germany 2016, 131 mins
Russian filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky won best director honors at the Venice Film Festival for this black-and-white piece described as a “chamber drama recalling the shattered dreams of both Holocaust victims and perpetrators.” The movie has been entered in the foreign film category for the 89th Academy Awards.
Sand Storm | Israel 2016, 87 mins
This drama shot in Israel’s Negev Desert concerns a Bedouin mother and daughter stymied by archaic Middle Eastern cultural traditions. It won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
Harmonia | Israel 2016, 97 mins
A retelling of the biblical story casts Abraham as director of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and Sarah, a harpist, as his childless wife. Hagar, a horn player of French-Arab descent, befriends Sarah, and offers to carry a child for the couple.