Philadelphia Jewish Film and Media Adds Spring Festival to Calendar

People attend a screening during the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival. (Photo by Mario Manzoni)

Philadelphia Jewish Film and Media is bringing back its spring film series for the first time since 2019. Only this time, it will be a festival: the Lindy Springfest, from March 25-April 1. And like PJFM’s Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival in November, the spring event will be back in person.

On March 25, the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History hosts opening night: a screening of “March ’68” at 7:30 p.m. The feature-length drama focuses on a Jewish woman, Hania, who along with her lover must escape the persecution of an antisemitic government in Poland. A week later, on April 1, the Weitzman will again welcome festival-goers, only this time for closing night. “Haute Couture,” a drama about a seamstress and a thief who form an unexpected friendship, also begins at 7:30 p.m.

PJFM is planning screenings throughout the week, including a Sunday morning showing of “The Prince of Egypt.” The Weitzman is hosting most of the screenings, but Gratz College and the Bryn Mawr Film Institute are staging a few.

A $150 all-access pass gets you to the front of the line for each event. General admission for screenings is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors and $10 for students. Tickets can be bought at

“When you go to the movies, even if it’s a bad movie, even if it’s a silly, frivolous movie, the excitement is when it’s done and everybody is talking about it,” said Matthew Bussy, PJFM’s program director. “It’s that excitement that drives people to go back to the movies.”

In November, Jews came back out, according to Bussy. Total attendance for the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival was 1,539. The average crowd for a screening was 110. PJFM is spreading the word through its ambassadors at local synagogues and community organizations, social media and the Weitzman. A few hundred tickets have sold so far.

“I don’t know if we’ll get the same amount as last fall,” Bussy said. “But I’m hopeful we’ll get a decent turnout.”

Jerry Silverman, a 73-year-old Philadelphian who attends most PJFM events, is planning on going to “almost every single film” between March 25 and April 1. Silverman is a movie buff. He even went to theaters during COVID after they reopened. And while he does watch some movies at home, he said his dog “doesn’t really like to laugh a lot.”

“Seeing a movie by yourself is not seeing a movie,” he said. “It’s meant to be seen with other human beings.”

PJFM Program Director Matthew Bussy addresses the crowd during the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival in November. (Photo by Mario Manzoni)

Rachel Weinberg, a 29-year-old filmmaker in New York City, has a film in the festival called “Ibach,” about a Philadelphia man who tends to his family’s piano that escaped Nazi Germany. It screens on March 30 at the Weitzman. Weinberg will be there. She said that it is “special” to both see her work come to life on screen and watch an audience react. As a maker of short films, she often posts her work online on sites like Vimeo. But while online comments tell her something, they are just not the same.

“Films are made to entertain and take you out of your regular life,” she said.

“March ’68,” “Haute Couture” and “The Prince of Egypt” are the main events. But there are several other movies playing during the week. “The City Without Jews,” playing March 26 at 8 p.m. at the Weitzman, is a 1924 silent film that takes viewers into a town where the government passes a law excommunicating Jews. Another feature-length film, “SHTTL,” playing at Gratz on March 27 and the Weitzman on March 29, takes you into a shtetl in Soviet-era Ukraine where residents are grappling with the possibility of a Nazi invasion.

And for true movie fans, short-film night at the Weitzman on March 30 has some fascinating human-interest stories. “Women of Virtue” is about a 9-year-old girl who is blessed by the community after her first period, only to be told later that “women are impure during menstruation,” according to a synopsis from PJFM’s event program.

“Favorite Daughter” is about a girl who quarantines with her mother and grandmother during the lockdown in 2020. According to that event program, “they laugh, reminisce about past relationships and remind one another that no matter how scary the world gets, they will always be there for each other.” ■

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