If you can’t wait till November for the Gershman Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival (GPJFF), you can catch great Jewish films from around the world with the sixth annual Lindy CineMondays series, which has screenings Mondays between now and May 6.
“We’re really looking for the highest-quality films, the most exciting, the most critically acclaimed, memorable Jewish films,” GPJFF Executive Artistic Director Olivia Antsis said. “Lindy CineMondays is really about offering Philadelphia film lovers a chance to see the best of Jewish international cinema.”
The series opened on March 25 at the National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) with two screenings of Redemption, an Israeli film about a pious, middle-aged man who tries to reconcile his current life with his past as a lead singer in a rock band when he gets the band back together to fund his daughter’s cancer treatment.
The second offering, on April 1 at 7:30 p.m., is the Mexican film Leona, also at NMAJH. Leona follows a young Jewish street artist named Ariela in Mexico City who is split between her relationship with her non-Jewish boyfriend and her family.
It will be preceded by a young professionals happy hour, presented by Young Friends of GPJFF and Tribe 12, at Lucha Cartel in Old City at 5 p.m. Philadelphia artist Caitlin Herrschaft, whose murals appear in Leona, will attend.
After the screening, Antsis will moderate a Q&A with Herrschaft and director Isaac Cherem, who will attend via video.
“[Ariela’s] predicament of having to navigate an interfaith union without the support of her family and community is actually a hot topic in many faith-based communities right now,” Antsis said. “The other aspect of the film that the screening committee really enjoyed is the fact that we’re given this rare and intimate glimpse into a young Jewish woman’s coming of age in Mexico City.”
The series’ centerpiece film is King Bibi at the Philadelphia Film Center on April 8 at 7 p.m., the evening before the Israeli election. This Israeli documentary uses archival images of Benjamin Netanyahu, who spent part of his youth in the Philadelphia area, to explore his public identity and his political communication skills.
After the screening, GJPFF Artistic Chair Iris Drechsler will lead a conversation with Eytan Gilboa, director of the center for international communication at Bar-Ilan University and visiting professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Obviously, [Netanyahu] has been influenced by his time in the United States, and he has adopted an American approach to elections, to election campaigns,” Gilboa said. “He is the best election campaign politician ever in Israel. Given the legal and political troubles he’s in, if he had not been an outstanding campaigner, he would have no chance whatsoever in the next elections.”
On April 15 at 7 p.m. at the Lightbox Film Center, Lindy CineMondays will screen Fig Tree, which follows a Jewish Ethiopian teenager who tries to protect her boyfriend from being drafted while her family waits for refuge in Israel.
Beejhy Barhany, founder of the Sheba Film Festival and the Beta Israel of North America Cultural Foundation Inc., will interview Fig Tree director Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian, who is originally from Ethiopia and moved to Israel as a child, via video.
Two weeks later, on April 29 at 7 p.m. at Landmark’s Ritz East, Lindy CineMondays will screen The Tobacconist, an Austrian and German film, as its Holocaust Remembrance Day film. The Tobacconist takes place in Vienna on the brink of World War II, when a young man experiences a sexual and spiritual awakening with guidance from his mentor, Sigmund Freud.
The film will be followed by a Q&A with Emily Kuriloff, director of clinical education at the William Alanson White Institute and author of Contemporary Psychoanalysis and the Legacy of the Third Reich.
The last film is Tel Aviv on Fire at the Philadelphia Theatre Company on May 6 at 7 p.m. A middle-aged slacker named Salam lands a job on a hit Palestinian soap opera called Tel Aviv on Fire. On his way home to Jerusalem from Ramallah, he gets stopped at a security checkpoint by a guard whose wife loves the show and who uses his power over Salam to influence it.
“This film is obviously very funny, very tongue-in-cheek, even a bit subversive,” Antsis said. “It’s directed by a Palestinian filmmaker but fully supported by Israeli cinema organizations. It has Israeli producers. It has nothing that is offensive. It’s very enjoyable. It’s been a crowd-pleaser at festivals all over the place.”
Overall, the series is an opportunity to catch some great Jewish films in between the GPJFF’s fall festivals, Antsis said.
“We don’t want our audience to miss out on the best Jewish films,” she said.
God bless the Lindy family sponsorship, including matriarch Elaine Lundy, for continuing our Jewish movie tradition.