Selection Committee – AJFF

I really like doing this one as you can see.

I went back to doing all three terms on the AJFF, which was really weird because people who I had worked with for ages didn’t recognize me even by the last term. I have only sat on the festival for a number of years. Again there were nearly 600 films. Personally, I did not think the quality of the movies that were submitted were the best quality although that could be because I am getting cynical and I am really tired of working with Holocaust films. Please for all of the future film makers out there, please if you want to do a Jewish movie, we have a very rich and creative history which is not just the Holocaust. If I can be honest I really don’t want to be so reminded that I have nightmares because I have to watch it.

Did anyone on the evaluation committee see any good movies that they can recommend?

Completed : 2017

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Augusta film festival

And yet we did the Augusta Jewish Film Festival again for another year. This time I don’t think I saw as many movies as the first year, but I also don’t remember watching anything particularly good.  I am starting to think that some of these film festivals only seem to get the worst films.  Certainly I was not overly impressed.  I would do anything to have some decent films for once!

Would you ever willingly go back to a selection committee with questionable standards?

Completed : 2017

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Selection Committee

This is a different selection committee, but yet again a film based one. I served on Southern Circuit’s film committee although I will say I did not find it nearly as good as the selection of films we have at the Jewish film festival. The quality was not there and it almost seemed that for several of them that they were not even trying to make a decent movie. Unlike the AJFF, Southern Circuit assigned the movies to the reviewers and gave us a much shorter amount of time to do our reviews. I had 4 movies and a week to do them in. That is a little bit much. I only saw one that was worth anything and I didn’t even think that was the best movie in the world. I expect when I see a movie, that people know their audience and know what the heck they are doing and are not trying to be overly cute. I was definitely not impressed by what I saw.

These guys by the way give the best swag.

Did anyone else see any movies worth while?

Completed : 2017

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Get Backstage and Get Off with a Rock God

One of the things to do was to “Get backstage and get off with a rock god” which they are probably referring to screaming girls trying to hook up with the equivalent of Elvis for a one-nighter or to become a groupie.  That is somewhat different than what happens if you are a backstager where you actually have relevant long lasting relationships with the talent.

There are two parts of this.  Part one, get backstage.  Part two, sleep with a rocker.

Quite frankly, I have always found it easy to get backstage, but then with both parents in the media and then my 20 year history in theater, it’s common to be backstage.  In fact, there are times I wonder if I have spent more time backstage than watching from the audience.  I don’t understand what the obsession is with going backstage in fact it can take away some of the magic when you realize how much work goes on to put on the show.

Then there is the second part, actually one of my boyfriends was in a rock band.  He was 18 years my senior and I was 16.  I met him when I was working for the Florida Renaissance Festival as a stage manager, he was part of my favourite act and since we were in close proximity all the time, we started to date.  He was a local and was also in a rock band as the singer.  We dated for 8 months so I am sure one can imagine what went on.

Have you ever been a groupie?  Who?  Or have you ever had a desire to go backstage and perhaps you can explain the fascination with it?

Completed : 1998

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Selection Committee – also again

I only sat on one term this year because I was again trying to get back into medical school. I barely completed the movies or the meetings, however I did nearly get into it when a very offensive transsexual movie was screened and I was told I didn’t know what I was talking about so I had to come out as transsexual in front of the entire selection committee. Then my bravery was commented on and they put it back up to get more eyes on it. I don’t remember the details of the movie but I wrote up a rather long response which I was intending to read at the meeting but then my gall bladder ruptured and I missed the meeting because I was being prepped for emergency surgery. Luckily it was printed out and read at the meeting.

I didn’t know if anything I saw made it to the finalist list until the list came out. I saw “Doing Jewish” which was good and “Wrestling Jerusalem” which the man was very talented to be able to do.

Did anyone on the evaluation committee see any good movies that they can recommend?

Completed  : 2016

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See the All Time Greatest (Jewish) Films, part 4

13) Au revoir les enfants

Hour and a half film about a Jewish boy in hiding in a Catholic school for boys. Not exactly very interesting, but also not surprising if it was real. Very boring. Also it is in French so was a song and dance to find without subtitles.

15) Enemies: A Love Story (1989)

A very complicated love triangle. That is about it. 3 women and a man. Oy! Otherwise somewhat similar to “The Pawn Broker” (Holocaust survivor with flashbacks) if you have seen that.

20) Body and Soul

There is not a lot of Jewish content. The guy was Jewish… but is that it?

22) Goodbye, Columbus

Summer romance type movie. I’d recommend Dirty Dancing over it.

23) Bugsy (Unrated Extended Cut)

OK, I had to look up on Wiki to find out that he was Jewish, which by the way is the only connection to Judaism. I can otherwise not tell outside of some sort of Jewish last names. I did learn about the history of Las Vegas though!

24) Cabaret

Another movie that the only Jewish theme is that there are two Jews in the film who are not even the main characters and that it was set in Germany.

29) Homicide

Lots of racial insults and profanity and a self hating Jew who comes around to better understand himself and his identity. Not too bad in my opinion. Could have done with a lot less profanity though!

30) Madame Rosa

I am not sure I learned all that much about Jewish identity. But it was a touching story.

37) Marathon Man

There is an old Nazi involved and some Jews near the end. I am not sure this qualifies as a Jewish movie. Sorry.

41) Holocaust (The Mini-Series)

This is also very long (5 part miniseries) but you will get everything you will ever want to know about every aspect of the Holocaust told through the lives of a family.

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See the All Time Greatest (Jewish) Films, part 3

This is the third batch of ten

5) Shoah

This is an exceptionally long documentary… over 9 hours. Very detailed and very painful to get through.

9) Exodus

This movie is incredibly long. I took a break after they landed in Israel although apparently there is a scheduled intermission break a while longer.

Overall I think it is a very interesting movie although I think it almost could have been broken into two films given the length and the amount of scene changes with the “latter”film being more interesting than the “former.” The first two hours are just setting up the characters with the second half telling the story.

This might be a required watching for anyone who is interested in the creation of the state of Israel or even just to understand what the fudge is going on in the Middle East even right now.

16) The Great Dictator (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

This is basically a comedic parody of part of WWII. Amusing, but probably would have been easier to deal with had it been a silent film or had the audio not on a several second delay making it very difficult to comprehend.

17) The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (Director’s Cut)

Quite a bit of Jewish culture and such in this one although it does not make our people look very good.

42) Dirty Dancing (Single-Disc Widescreen Edition)

It’s the Catskills, that is it. OK outside of some kinda Jewish last names I don’t see anything that is inherently Jewish, I just don’t see it. I had to google this movie to find the Jewish subtext.

43) The Front

My hatred of Woody Allen knows no bounds. I also do not consider this to be that much of a Jewish film, outside of some Jewish actors and a drop of Hebrew what this primarily is is a story about the Blacklist of the 1950s.

46) Shine

This does not make Jewish fathers look good. Judaism is a back story at best, mental illness and music are the main points.

48) Yentl (Two-Disc Director’s Cut)

49) The Young Lions

Well at least it had some Jewish content (a Jewish soldier who eventually ends up in a company who helps liberate a concentration camp near the end). I’m not fully sure what the point of the movie was though since it reads like two stories that were gradually brought together but from different sides.

50) Marjorie Morningstar

OK, it was a Jewish girl and with the exception of the opening scene, the Passover scene, and a few snide comments, it still didn’t have much Jewish content beyond that. It was a typical love story, but with a bad ending.

Categories: Entertainment

Selection Committee – Augusta

One of the most awesome things really is finding yourself a volunteer opportunity that is so great that you just want to keep doing it over and over again. When I moved to Augusta, I got on the Augusta Jewish Film Festival committee. This wasn’t as hard to get on as the Atlanta one, however I still had a bunch of fun watching some of the movies. Unlike the other selection committee, there were not nearly as many meetings. Unfortunately there were also not nearly as many movies to watch or screen as the film festival is much smaller, but it was still great.

I was even able to screen one of the films I had purchased a ticket to for Atlanta which allowed me to send that ticket to a person who would not have been able to attend. Plus it allowed me to not have to drive down to Atlanta to watch it in person which saved me about 300 miles on my car as well as a tankful of gas.

As always, a great experience. I love being on these type of selection committees!

Completed  : 2015

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Selection Committee (again!)

While I was unable to do the full three terms of the wonderful Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, I was able to see a few movies which makes me feel at least a little better about having to abandon it completely to go to medical school.  Unfortunately with the surprise push towards starting me in medical school an entire month early, I was unable to catch all but the minimum amount of films, which, to be honest I do not think any of them actually made it to the finals.

However with all of that, I still do not regret one single film I watched because of all of this, so much has contributed to my Jewish identity and has, whether I like it or not, continued to separate me from my religion of origin.  Of course these films solidified my identity more than going to Israel ever did or having a bar mitzvah ever did.  My lack of being able to watch more films with the film festival means I had to watch more Jewish films on my own although luckily that means I was able to do it on my own time which has caused me to almost completely finish the 50 greatest Jewish films of all time.  I think I got more out of the Film Festival though just because of the intensity. And the more I do these film festivals, the more I understand things like how people are selected for things like medical school, etc, and I can do it in a way that is educational for me!

I have already purchased some tickets to the AJFF for this year. In search of Israeli cuisine (closing night and there is food!), Jeruzalem, Singing in the dark, That Daughter’s Crazy, and The Venice Ghetto. I might also have to buy some tickets for an Israeli who is getting into down during the festival. If you are in the area, and want to go to the festival, remember the films are selling out fast!

Anyone have other suggestions on films for me to catch before they sell out?

Completed  : 2015

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See the All Time Greatest (Jewish) Films, part 2

This is the next set of ten of the 50 Greatest Jewish Films.

9) Gentleman’s Agreement

I think finally we found a movie that I understand why it was put on the list!

First of all, I think it is a very good movie.

Second of all, it gets to the heart of the issue in several different ways.

I think this is very accurate in many ways. I lived as a Jew for years and only had limited antisemitism. When I converted and was actually Jewish, in less than a year I was beaten up because I was Jewish and then a few months later I was turned down for medical school in 2014 simply because I was Jewish (I was actually told by one school they had a quota!) I think everyone should watch this movie!

19) Chariots of Fire

I don’t know about this movie. This movie makes it feel like all Jews have chips on their shoulders as that is how parts of the movie seem. But it is nice to see some Jewish athletes!

21) The Pawnbroker

I think this best illustrates the psychological issues that occur among Holocaust survivors and the feelings of detachment that result from what had to be one of the ultimate causes for PTSD. His attitudes could only be expressed and would be acceptable through an event such as that.

25) Crimes and Misdemeanors

I really hate Woody Allen films. Alan Alda is the best part of this film. I don’t know why this was being made a conversion requirement.

31) Driving Miss Daisy

Too many cheap Jew stereotypes for me. Some Jewish son that one guy is, more concerned with helping his business than civil liberties, that being said, I am a Jew in Georgia so that makes this a requirement for me.

33) Europa Europa

This was impossible to watch, it was all in German and Russian (?). Or something and the subtitles didn’t seem to match what was going on.

I did get that he was a Jew hiding from the Germans right in front of their faces. Can’t imagine how problematic it would be to have to tie one’s (remaining) foreskin down. Ow. Poor guy to have to hide like that but I guess it is better than the alternatives. I wonder what happened to Leni and if any of Jopp’s family survived the war? And I loved how the Germans had more of the stereotypes that they assigned to the Jews than the Jews did.

35) Broadway Danny Rose

This was one of those “required for conversion” movies by one of the rabbis I was working with.

So, 30 minutes into the show and we get our first Jew reference. As an Italian, I am completely offended by the Italians in this movie. We are NOT like that at all. Woody Allen is also not funny at all, I just don’t get it. Just because there is a Jew in a movie, doesn’t make it a Jewish movie.

40) Down and Out in Beverly Hills

This is an example of over-assimilation if anything. I don’t understand why this was another required movie for conversion to Judaism not do I understand why this is a top Jewish film.

44) Biloxi Blues

Really cute movie that didn’t seem like it would be relevant but it was. Quite funny movie about a few stereotypical Jews who are in the army.

45) The Diary of Anne Frank

Holy moley was this attic huge in relation to life in the ghetto! Anyway, you’ve heard the story before, but really as a movie this was probably better than reading about it even if there likely was some artistic license.

Every time this makes me think of my Uncle (well cousin-by-marriage) who was in Holland during the occupation. Uncle Ap was in hiding. He hid in something that was effectively a crawl space near the bathroom. Aunt Wanda (actual cousin) was the one hiding him. I think that is one of the reasons why I hate this story so much. Hits close. And that dentist is still a pain and let’s not get into my feelings about the van Pels family.

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