Pass the popcorn

Pass the popcorn

(Editor’s note: The date for the JFilm Festival’s opening night movie, “Prima Primavera,” is Thursday, March 15. The correct date appears in the schedule below, but an incorrect date was given in a page 1 story in the Feb. 16 Chronicle.)

Here is the complete schedule for the 2012 JFilm Festival and related activities to the screenings. The festival opens, Thursday, March 15, at SouthSide Works Cinema:

Prima Primavera – Opening Night!

Pittsburgh Premiere

Director: Janos Edelenyi

2009, Bulgaria/Hungary/Netherlands/UK, 90 minutes

Hungarian with subtitles

An unlikely pair become traveling companions when middle-aged but childlike Gabor witnesses a botched bank robbery that involves Jolie, a young woman with a past. Fleeing the ruthless robbers, the two travel by truck and by foot through the Bulgarian and Serbian countryside. They find solace in each other and learn that they both have strengths that inexplicably tie them together.

Winner – Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor – Bulgarian Film Festival

A reception will follow the film with live music featuring Dennis Kurzawski, clarinet, and Douglas Levine, keyboard. Dietary laws observed.

Thursday, March 15, 7 p.m.

SouthSide Works Cinema

Circus Kids – Closing Day!

Pittsburgh Premiere

Director: Alexandra Lipsitz

2010, USA, 86 minutes

Hebrew, Arabic and English with subtitles

Can the circus solve the Middle East conflict? Well, maybe not, but this inspirational documentary makes the claim that it’s a step in the right direction. A spirited youth circus troupe from St. Louis heads to Pittsburgh’s sister city of Karmiel/Misgav to work with the Galilee Circus, a group made up of Israeli and Arab youth from the region. In addition to the typical teenage banter, the film follows the participants as they learn to embrace each other’s similarities and differences all while working and performing together.

Sunday, April 1, 1:30 p.m.

SouthSide Works Cinema

Generously underwritten by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh in celebration of their Centennial.

Special Pricing: This event is FREE but reservations are being taken in advance as seating is limited.

2 Night

Pittsburgh Premiere

Director: Roi Werner

2011, Israel, 87 minutes

Hebrew with subtitles

Two attractive young Israelis meet at a Tel Aviv bar and attempt to spend the night together in this breezy romantic comedy that could also be titled “A Guy, A Girl and No Parking Spot.” The nightlong search for a space allows the couple to move beyond glib one-liners to sharing their dreams and fears, but is also a metaphor for a generation unable to find its way or make a commitment. Adult content.

Winner – Best Acting – Odessa International Film Festival; Judges Award – Cinema South International Film Festival

Director Roi Werner will speak following the film.

Wednesday, March 21, 7:30 p.m.

Carnegie Mellon University – McConomy Auditorium

In collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University’s Israel on Campus.

Supported in part by Shalom Pittsburgh and the Young Adult Division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

Special Pricing: This is a Red String (formerly Jewcy) Film Series event.

21- to 35-year-olds: $5; all others: $10

Beyond the Boundaries

Pittsburgh Premiere

Director: Yonatan Nir

2011, USA, 60 minutes

English and Hebrew with subtitles

Every year, injured Israeli soldiers travel to Aspen for a week. There they share their personal stories with the Aspen community, and in return are taught to tackle the slopes to try to overcome the limitations their injuries have caused. The Golshim L’Chaim (Ski to Live) program proves that the human spirit can overcome many of life’s challenges.

Sunday, March 18, 1 p.m.

SouthSide Works Cinema

This screening is in honor of Sylvia Robinson and in collaboration with American Friends of Israel War Disabled.


Pittsburgh Premiere

Director: Tiffany Shlain

2011, USA, 82 minutes


Have you ever faked a restroom trip to check your email? Or become so overwhelmed that you just unplugged from it all? In this funny, eye-opening, and inspiring film, director Tiffany Shlain takes audiences on an exhilarating rollercoaster ride to discover what it means to be connected in the 21st century. From founding The Webby Awards to being a passionate advocate for The National Day of Unplugging, Shlain uses her love/hate relationship with technology as the springboard for a thrilling exploration of modern life … and our interconnected future. After centuries of declaring independence, perhaps it’s time to declare our interdependence instead.

Winner – Best Documentary – Maui and Portland Maine Film Festivals

Saturday, March 17, 8:10 p.m.

SouthSide Works Cinema

Deaf Jam

Pittsburgh Premiere

Director: Judy Lieff

2011, USA, 70 minutes

American Sign Language and English with subtitles

Aneta Brodski is amazing. She also happens to be deaf. She is introduced to American Sign Language Poetry in her high school and boldly enters the Spoken Word slam scene in New York City. In a wonderful coincidence, Aneta, an Israeli immigrant, meets Tahani, a hearing Palestinian slam poet. The two women embark on a collaboration to create a performance duet — a new form of slam poetry that speaks to both the hearing and the deaf.

Sunday, March 18, 2:30 p.m.

SouthSide Works Cinema


Pittsburgh Premiere

Director: Alon Zingman

2010, Israel, 90 minutes

Hebrew and Spanish with subtitles

Four stories converge in this gripping Israeli drama that begins at dawn: a young woman returning home is met by her father at the airport; a duty-free shop employee finishes her shift and learns life altering news; and an Argentinian woman boards a bus with her young son for his circumcision at a Tel Aviv hospital. The three stories become four when a hit and run accident inadvertently weaves the plots together at dusk. Very much like the American film “Crash,” in style, “Dusk” features textured performances from some of Israel’s best actors. Adult content.

Winner – Best Feature Debut – Haifa International Film Festival

Saturday, March 31, 9:15 p.m.

SouthSide Works Cinema

Five Brothers

Pittsburgh Premiere

Director: Alexandre Arcady

2010, France, 117 minutes

French with subtitles

When the fifth brother, the black sheep of a close-knit Jewish-Algerian family, breaks out of prison with the mob hot on his heels, he tests his brothers’ loyalty when he drags them, along with their widowed mother, into a criminal underworld and web of long-buried family secrets. This French film noir features an international cast, complex relationships and beautiful cinematography of Paris and Marseille. Adult content.

Thursday, March 29, 7:30 p.m.

SouthSide Works Cinema

I Shall Remember

Pittsburgh Premiere

Director: Vitaly Vorobjev

2010, Russia, 97 minutes

Russian with subtitles

It’s 1942 and the Russians and Germans are fighting near a small seaside town in southern Russia. Vadik, a street-smart youngster, is angry when his family takes in a Jewish boy whose parents have been deported by the Nazis. He’s ashamed, too, of his father, whose injuries prevent him from fighting with the Russian army. But soon he learns what it means to be a real hero. Based on a true story.

Winner – Best Narrative Feature – Fargo Film Festival

Introduced by Joy Braunstein, Director of the Holocaust Center of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

Sunday, March 18, 7 p.m.

SouthSide Works Cinema

Supported in part by the Holocaust Center of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

Kaddish for a Friend

Pittsburgh Premiere

Director: Leo Khasin

2011, Germany, 94 minutes

Arabic, German, and Russian with subtitles

Fourteen-year-old Ali grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp where he learned to hate Jews at an early age. After escaping Lebanon, he and his family end up in Berlin’s Kreuzberg area. Wanting to fit in and be accepted by the local gang, he helps them vandalize the apartment of a Russian Jewish neighbor. To avoid deportation, he is forced to help the neighbor repair the damage. Inspired by two real people, “Kaddish for a Friend” is a tragicomic story about friendship, trust and the art of forgiveness.

Winner – Audience Award – Boston and Washington D.C. Jewish Film Festivals

Wednesday, March 28, 7 p.m.

Cranberry Cinemas

Saturday, March 31, 8:30 p.m.

SouthSide Works Cinema

Little Rose

Pittsburgh Premiere

Director: Jan Kidawa-Błonski

2010, Poland, 118 minutes

Polish with subtitles

In 1960s Poland, anti-Semitism is still rampant. A member of the Polish Secret Police uses his beautiful girlfriend to infiltrate the Jewish intellectual circles that question totalitarian rule and dream of political, social and cultural freedoms. Inspired by the life of Polish writer Pawel Jasienica, this taut, sensual thriller captures the suffocating nature of Poland under Communist rule. Adult content.

Winner – Golden Lion for Best Film, Best Actress – Polish Film Festival

Thursday, March 22, 7 p.m.

Galleria – Mt. Lebanon

Saturday, March 24, 9 p.m.

SouthSide Works Cinema

Mabul (The Flood)

Pittsburgh Premiere

Director: Guy Nattiv

2011, Israel/Canada/France/Germany, 97 minutes

Hebrew with subtitles

In this award-winning drama, Mabul (The Flood) is an allegory for the events befalling a dysfunctional Israeli family. The mother is having an affair; the father is a pot-smoking pilot grounded because of his habit, and the son, Yoni, is a street-wise yet sweet boy preparing for his bar mitzva – and his portion is Noah, which recounts the story of the Flood. When the family’s long-forgotten autistic son Tomer is unexpectedly sent home to live with them, the family is swept up in an emotional tide that threatens them.

Winner of Best Film, Best Cinematography and Best Newcomer at the Haifa International Film Festival

Saturday, March 17, 9:45 p.m.

SouthSide Works Cinema

Sunday, March 18, 4 p.m.

SouthSide Works Cinema

Supported in part by the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

Nicky’s Family

Pittsburgh Premiere

Director: Matej Minac

2011, Czech Republic/Soviet Republic, 96 minutes


In 1939, Nicholas Winton, a young stockbroker, saved the lives of 669 children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia by bringing them across Hitler’s Germany to his native Britain. For nearly 50 years, Winton kept secret how he rescued these children; not even his wife knew anything about it. Today, there are more than 6,000 descendants of the children Winton saved — and all of them owe their lives to this gentle, unassuming hero, now over 100 years old. Twenty-six of the rescued children from all over the world are featured in the film, including CBC correspondent Joe Schlesinger, and many of them are taking Winton’s example and helping others.

Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Palm Beach Jewish, UK Jewish, Montreal World and Karlovy Vary International Film Festivals

Tuesday, March 20, 7 p.m.

Seton Hill University, Reeves Auditorium

Supported in part by Seton Hill University’s National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education.

Monday, March 26, 7 p.m.

Galleria – Mt. Lebanon


Pittsburgh Premiere

Directors: Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado

2010, Israel, 90 minutes

Hebrew with subtitles

Can you say bloody? The creepy confines of the woods provide the perfect setting for Israel’s first-ever horror film. A sexy, campy, and clever game of murder, it involves a young couple who happen to be brother and sister, a deranged cop and his lovesick partner, and a group of tennis playing friends. An impressive cast of Israel’s leading actors is drawn into a whirlwind of dark secrets, mix-ups and bloody mayhem. Adult content.

Winner of Best Feature at the Mile High Horror Film Festival

Followed by “Can You Say ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ in Yiddish?: Thinking About Jewish Horror” a discussion with scholars Jeremy Dauber, Columbia University, and Adam Lowenstein, University of Pittsburgh.

Tuesday, March 27, 7:30 p.m.

SouthSide Works Cinema

Sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Jewish Studies Program.


Pittsburgh Premiere

Director: Anna Justice

2011, Germany, 105 minutes

English, German and Polish with subtitles

A young Polish prisoner and his Jewish lover carry on a dangerous and torrid affair in the most unlikely of places: the confines of a concentration camp in 1944 Poland. Tomasz meticulously plans their successful escape and smuggles out photo evidence of the Final Solution while he’s at it. But before the war ends, they become separated and then convinced that the other has died. Thirty years later, Hannah, married with a grown child, sees a man who she believes to be Tomasz in a television interview. Inspired by actual events, this story follows Hannah’s burning desire to find Tomasz again. Adult content.

Winner of the Audience Award at the Hong Kong and London Jewish Film Festivals

Thursday, March 22, 7:30 p.m.

SouthSide Works Cinema


Pittsburgh Premiere

Director: Yossi Madmoni

2010, Israel, 105 minutes

Hebrew with subtitles

When Yakov Fidelman’s long-time business partner dies, he discovers that their antique furniture restoration business is in dire financial straits. His abrasive son, Noah, wants him to close the business to build condos, not understanding that it is the only thing touching his father’s lonely, quiet life. An unexpected person enters his life in the form of Anton, a gifted yet secretive young man. When Anton finds an antique Steinway in the shop, it may hold the key to keeping the business afloat. A thoughtful, psychological drama that focuses on the complexities of universal relationships: fathers and sons, husbands and wives, and even the relationship we have with our work. Adult content.

Winner of Best Film at the Jerusalem and Karlovy Vary International Film Festivals, and Best Dramatic Screenwriting at the Sundance Film Festival

“A powerful film about intergenerational conflict and loyalty, one of the best films to play the (New York Jewish film) festival in several years.” -George Robinson, The Jewish Week

Saturday, March 24, 8:20 p.m.

SouthSide Works Cinema

Sunday, March 25, 4 p.m.

SouthSide Works Cinema

Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness

Pittsburgh Premiere

Director: Joseph Dorman

2011, US, 93 minutes

English and Yiddish with subtitles

A fascinating portrait of the great Yiddish writer, Sholem Aleichem (1859-1916), whose stories became the basis of the musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” The documentary tells the tale of the rebellious genius who created an entirely new literature. Plumbing the depths of a Jewish world locked in crisis and on the cusp of profound change, he captured that world with brilliant humor. Sholem Aleichem was not just a witness to the creation of a new modern Jewish identity, but one of the very men who forged it.

“More than an examination of the contradictory life of the celebrated humorist and storyteller, it’s a compelling cinematic look at the complex world of Eastern European Jews.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

Sunday, March 25, 1:30 p.m.

SouthSide Works Cinema

Supported in part by the Zionist Organization of America – Pittsburgh District.


Pittsburgh Premiere

Director: Eliezer Shapiro

2009, Israel, 2 episodes from season 1 (total program time 90 minutes)

Hebrew with subtitles

This groundbreaking, popular Israeli television series follows the lives of a group of 30-something Modern Orthodox singles as they navigate their lives (love, friendship, faith) in contemporary Jerusalem — an Israeli version of the popular U.S. sitcom “Friends,” but with a twist.

Creator/Director Eliezer Shapiro will speak following the film.

Monday, March 19, 7:30 p.m.

SouthSide Works Cinema

Standing Silent

Pittsburgh Premiere

Director: Scott M. Rosenfelt

2010, USA, 84 minutes


Child sexual abuse scandals are not limited to one community or religious segment, as viewers find in this documentary that follows one journalist’s drive to report on abuse in Baltimore’s Orthodox Jewish community. Phil Jacobs, a long-time writer for the Baltimore Jewish Times and an Orthodox Jew himself, faces a hostile public and his own demons when he decides to report on sexual abuse in the Orthodox community. This sensitive and compelling documentary follows Jacobs’ difficult and draining crusade to uncover sexual predators and help the victims move on.

Panel discussion to follow the film. See for more details.

Sunday, March 25, 7 p.m.

SouthSide Works Cinema

A Suitcase Full of Chocolate

Pittsburgh Premiere

Director: Lincoln Mayorga

2011, USA, 93 minutes

Russian and English with subtitles

Lincoln Mayorga’s poignant documentary tells the remarkable story of Sofia Cosma, a child prodigy, born in Latvia, who won renown in a Viennese piano competition in 1933. She witnessed Hitler’s invasion of Austria in 1938 and was forced to return home where she spent seven years in a Soviet prison. Cosma’s indomitable spirit, humor, and love of music made it possible for her to move beyond her tragic past and embrace a full life, including a celebrated concert career.

Director and Concert Pianist Lincoln Mayorga will speak and play following the film.

Thursday, March 29, 7 p.m.

University of Pittsburgh, Frick Fine Arts Building

Sponsored by The University of Pittsburgh: Dean, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences; Film Studies Program; Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures; Associate Dean, Undergraduate Studies, Dietrich School; Dean, University Honors College; European Union Center of Excellence/European Studies Center; Russian & East European Studies Center; Women’s Studies Program; World History Center; History Department; Jewish Studies Program; Humanities Center; Music Department; German Department

Special Pricing: University of Pittsburgh students and faculty are FREE; all others $10