Philly Film Festival Gets Local and Jewish


When the 24th annual Philadelphia Film Festival kicks off on Oct. 22, it will have a distinctly Jewish flavor.

When the 24th annual Philadelphia Film Festival kicks off on Oct. 22, it will have a distinctly Jewish flavor, and not just because of the inclusion of director Sol Friedman’s Bacon & God’s Wrath.
Other entries with Jewish content and/or Jewish involvement include a documentary about the late Eagles owner Leonard Tose, Tose: The Movie, by director Mike Tollin; Demon, the horror film based on the tale of the dybbuk, by the late director Marcin Wrona; a documentary about the late DJ AM, also known as the Philadelphia-born Adam Goldstein, As I AM: The Life and Times of DJ AMA Light Beneath Their Feet, a documentary by director Valerie Weiss; When Voices Meet, a documentary executive produced by Marilyn cohen; and Baby Baby Baby, a relationship drama by local director Brian Klugman. 
When Voices Meet, which is Cohen’s first movie, is nominated for the Pinkenson Award by the PFF and is playing in 20 festivals.   
“We’re overwhelmed by the response that it’s getting around the country,” Cohen said. “It’s really a Philadelphia Jewish connection.”
The film gathered thousands to listen to a message of peace from the 500-voice, multiracial choir they had risked their lives to form in Durban, South Africa. And when those courageous 
musicians were joined by Ladysmith Black Mambazo to take their message across the country aboard The Peace Train, a movement was born. The movie stars Tony-award winning actor John Kani, Abigail Kubeka, Sharon Katz, Nonhlanhla Wanda and the cast of The Peace Train. 
Cohen, a Logan resident with a background in social work, went to South Africa in 2002 for what was supposed to be a six-week visit — and ended up staying for eight years. She documented everything, but never planned to make a movie. However, after people in America urged her to tell her story, she returned in 2013 and did more interviews.
“I was intrigued by what was happening in South Africa,” she said. “I was really compelled once I got there to really learn what the South Africans were doing.”
She described it as “fascinating” and “dangerous” because Nelson Mandela had just been released from prison in 1990 and people wanted change. 
“I was incredibly impressed with what has been able to happen in just 20 short years,” Cohen said. 
In addition to her 95-year old mother, Shirley Cohen, who worked at various synagogues, riding with them on The Peace Train in 1993 to help keep the children safe, there are several Jewish angles to the film. The South African band, Sharon Katz and The Peace Train — now based in Philadelphia — helped Mandela end apartheid and spread the message of peace through performances and workshops in festivals, educational settings and concert halls around the world.
“It was our core Jewish beliefs of tikkun olam that inspired us to do the work of trying to repair the damage that had been done by the apartheid regime in South Africa,” she said. “Then it was a Jewish man who ran one of South Africa’s largest companies, Bakers Biscuits, who gave us a truck so we could travel out to all the then-separated communities.”
Klugman, a native Philadelphian, has been involved in the industry since age 10, when he was first cast in commercials. He grew up in the Northeast and has always had a passion for the big screen. Klugman made his directional debut in 2012, with The Words, which starred Bradley Cooper and Zoe Zaldana. 
Baby, Baby, Baby is about the relationship between two mismatched people who try to move past their baggage to make their love work. Klugman stars as a writer of short stories living in Los Angeles. Like many a writer in the movies, his mind wanders into fantasy asides starring famous people reflecting the state of his relationship. Adrianne Palicki and Michaela Conlin star as the two women in his life, with Conlin playing Klugman’s ex-girlfriend and Palicki as the painter he moves in with.
Klugman, who grew up going to Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park, is looking forward to the local premiere. 
“I’m thrilled to have it in my hometown,” he said. “I hope that people will see it and find they relate to it.” 
Contact:; 215-832-0747


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here