#FIRSTLOOK: TJFF2021 PROGRAMMING LINEUP
Streaming virtually Ontario-wide from June 3 to 13, 2021 TJFF2021 offers a curated programme of 60+ films showcasing the best in Jewish-content film from Canada and around the world. Check-out their lineup!
Asia, dir. Ruthy Pribar, Israel
Winner of the Best Film at the Israeli Academy Awards and the Tribeca Film Festival’s Nora Ephron Award, Asia stars Shira Haas (Unorthodox, Shtisel) as a defiant teen coping with a degenerative disorder who has a fraught relationship with her mother.
Forgiveness (Mechila), dirs. Guy Amir & Hanan Savyon, Israel
A caper-buddy comedy by duo Amir & Savyon about two bumbling thieves whose failed attempt to rob a bank lands one of them in jail while the other becomes a Hasidic Jew. Plans go awry when the reformed criminals are reunited.
Here We Are, dir. Nir Bergman, Israel/Italy
Premiered at Cannes and winner of the Jury Prize and Audience Award at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, Here We Are captures the poignancy of parenthood through a single father who has devoted his life to raising his autistic son Uri.
Kiss Me Kosher, dir. Shirel Peleg, Germany/Israel
A love story where cultures clash and families must overcome their religious difference when Shira, an Israeli, and Maria, her non-Jewish, German girlfriend get engaged. All of which is captured on video to full comic effect by Shira’s younger brother for a school project.
Labyrinth of Peace (Frieden), dir. Mike Schaerer, Israel/Germany
This gripping miniseries reveals the façade of Switzerland’s neutrality after the war and that a family’s future success depends on ignoring or actively colluding with former war criminals.
Lune, dirs. Aviva Armour-Ostroff & Arturo Perez Torres, Canada
Audience Award winner for Narrative Feature at Cinequest 2021, set in 1994 Toronto, a Jewish South African freelance journalist’s strong desire to return to South Africa to vote for the recently-freed Nelson Mandela triggers her bipolar disorder with her mania exploding into a life-altering climax.
The Sign Painter, dir. Viestur Kairish, Latvia/Czech Republic/Lithuania
Ansis, a young sign painter in 1940s Latvia has a simple dream: to be an artist and to marry Zisla, the beautiful daughter of a Jewish merchant but his romantic dream is shattered as the country inches towards totalitarianism.
The Specials (Hors normes), dirs. Olivier Nakache & Éric Toledano, France
Directed by the duo behind The Intouchables and inspired by a true story of two men who join forces to confront systemic neglect and fight for those marginalized by society, the film stars Vincent Cassel (Black Swan, Eastern Promises) and Reda Kateb (Zero Dark Thirty, A Prophet).
A Starry Sky Above a Roman Ghetto, dir. Giulio Base, Italy
A wartime photo of a Jewish child brings young people together on a quest of discovery that reveals life-changing consequences as they uncover the fate of this person in the photo.
Summer of ‘85, dir. François Ozon, France/Belgium
The unparalleled intensity of first-time love is sumptuously rendered in François Ozon’s masterful coming of age tale. When charismatic David rescues Alex from a capsized boat, the two embark on a passionate relationship, fuelled by Alex’s all-consuming love.
Tiger Within, dir. Rafal Zielinski, United States
Holocaust survivor, Samuel (Ed Asner), and Casey, a skinhead teen runaway, develop an unlikely friendship. Despite their traumas and initial mistrust of one another, Casey gives Sam a new purpose, and Sam gives Casey the guidance she needs to start a new life.
Two, dir. Astar Elkayam, Israel
Initially optimistic about starting a family, Bar and Omer eagerly comb through a catalogue of potential donors and face the insemination process with humour. But when Omer fails to become pregnant, an underlying sense of failure threatens to undermine their relationship.
The Un-Word, dir. Leo Khasin, Germany
After an altercation between an Iranian, a Palestinian and a Jewish student, parents of the three boys are called to the school by their teacher who inadvertently exposes her own misguided assumptions, complete with snacks decorated with Palestinian and Israeli flags.
The Adventures of Saul Bellow, dir. Asaf Galay, United States
A portrait of Saul Bellow, one of the most acclaimed chroniclers of post-war American Jewish life. Insights from Salman Rushdie, Philip Roth and Martin Amis along with archival footage make this compulsory viewing for Bellow fans.
Alone Together, dirs., Kineret Hay-Gillor & Maya Tiberman, Israel
Winner of the Audience Award at the Docaviv Film Festival, Alone Together is about an everyday hero who works in soup kitchens by day and volunteers at night as a “first hug” with abandoned babies, all the while struggling to create her own family.
Desert Tested, dir. Avi Weissblei, Israel
The history of the Susita—the car with the fibreglass shell that was designed to create an Israeli automobile industry—and the man behind the car – Yitzhak Shubinsky. A story of corruption, fraud, and suspicious government ties.
High Maintenance, dir. Barak Heymann, Israel/Poland
Israeli icon, Dani Karavan, who, despite creating nearly 100 installations across the world and winning numerous awards, feels dissatisfied. High Maintenance is a portrait of Karavan as an old man, yet still every bit as relevant as he ever was.
Lebanon – Borders of Blood, dir. Duki Dror, Israel/Germany
Duki Dror (2020 David Stein Award winner for There Are No Lions in Tel Aviv) distills a century of Lebanese history in this comprehensive documentary with an impressive array of interviewees from multiple sides of the geo-political spectrum.
Leonard Cohen, Portrait of the Artist (Leonard Cohen, portrait intime), dir. Armelle Brusq, France
A must-see for Leonard Cohen fans, this newly-restored 1996 documentary offers a rare view into his time at Mount Baldy Zen Center as a Buddhist and disciple of the Zen Master, Kyozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi.
Love It Was Not (Ahava Zot Lo Hayta), dir. Maya Sarfaty, Israel/Austria
SS officer Franz Wunsch saved Helena Citron and her sister from certain death in Auschwitz. Thirty years later Helena is faced with an impossible decision when she is called upon as a witness at his war crimes trial.
Marry Me However, dir. Mordechai Vardi, Israel
The emotional devastation wrought by marrying against one’s sexual orientation for the sake of complying with Orthodox religious obligations is examined through the experience of gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews.
Mighty Ira, dirs. Chris Maltby, Nico Perrino & Aaron Reese, United States
Ira Glasser, leader of the ACLU for 23 years, took it from a small grassroots operation on the verge of bankruptcy, to the juggernaut it is today. Amid today’s controversies surrounding free speech, racial equality and antisemitism, Glasser’s story is as timely as ever.
Modigliani and His Secrets, dir. Jacques Loeuille, France
Historians and curators explore the myths surrounding artist Amedeo Modigliani by retracing his life from his Sephardic-Jewish upbringing in Venice to life in Bohemian Paris.
Muranow, dir. Chen Shelach, Israel
Once the heart of Warsaw’s Jewish life, the Polish district of Muranow became the Warsaw ghetto, and was rebuilt after the war on the site of its destruction. Current residents of this green and rehabilitated neighbourhood discuss the spectre of its former residents.
A Private Death, dir. Marianna Barr, Israel
The improbable love story of a Jaffa-born Orthodox Jew and a Jerusalem-born Christian Arab, which blossomed in 1930s Palestine and continued until the end of their lives. Their relationship provides a unique testimony to life in Jerusalem during the British Mandate.
Raymone El Bidaoia, dir. Yael Abecassis, Israel
Raymonde – diva, queen, enigma, inspiration, survivor, widow, woman, and mother. Armed with a camera, actress Yael Abecassis captures her mother, legendary voice of Morocco, Raymonde El Bidaoia, as they embark on a journey together.
The Red Scarf, dir. Peter Mostovoy, Israel
In this autobiography, Mostovoy takes us on a journey from his impoverished childhood in the Soviet Union to award-winning Russian filmmaker. Once believing that his art could be free from demands of the regime, he nevertheless became entangled in Soviet-era politics as an “untrustworthy” Jew.
Shelter, dir. Ron Chapman, Canada
Toronto’s standing as one of the world’s most successful multicultural cities in the world is due in no small part to the efforts of a group of entrepreneurial Jewish immigrants. Anticipating the need for affordable, quality rental housing after the post-War immigration boom, these resourceful businessmen were instrumental in shaping the city we know today.
UnReined, dirs. Naomi Guttman-Bass & Marcia Rock, United States
Nancy Zeitlin challenged familial and societal norms. She became a leading figure in the Israeli equestrian world, but a chance encounter with a horse-loving Palestinian prompted her to establish the first Palestinian equestrian team.
Winter Journey, dir. Anders Østergaard, Denmark/Germany
Featuring actor Bruno Ganz in his final role, Winter Journey is based on the conversations that American radio host, Martin Goldsmith had with his father, a German Jewish musician. This hybrid documentary combines archival footage and re-enactments to bring his parents’ poignant and painful love story to light.
Archival Programme: Spotlights Carl Reiner, Ted Allan & Joan Micklin Silver
The 2021 Archival Programme will celebrate the beloved work and prolific career of the late Carl Reiner, by showcasing his television work, including Your Show of Shows and The Dick Van Dyke Show as well as the forgotten gem Flannery and Quilt, a comedy pilot created by Reiner and Marty Feldman (Young Frankenstein).
TJFF is also honouring one of Canada’s most distinctive writing talents and raconteurs, Ted Allan, with screenings of the Canadian classic Lies My Father Told Me and the CBC teleplay Love on the Nose, starring Saul Rubinek, Marilyn Lightstone, Maury Chaykin, and Eugene Levy. Also, for newcomers to Allan’s life and career, TJFF is screening Ted Allan: Minstrel Boy of the 20th Century.
To commemorate the recent passing of ground-breaking director Joan Micklin Silver (Hester Street), TJFF is hosting a special screening of the romantic comedy, Crossing Delancey.
For a complete list of short films in the TJFF programme, click here.
Films will be available to view Ontario-wide for 48 hours and many of the films will have live zoom Q&As with directors, cast and documentary subjects. Information on the complete schedule of special events, including Q&As, will be announced on May 12, 2021 when the box office opens. For more information, visit www.tjff.com.