JewishFilm.2011 dares viewers to change world
To run through March 14, festival offers screenings and faculty, filmmaker panels
It's that voice and tell-it-like-it-is demeanor that resonates long after the screen goes black on "Grace Paley: Collected Shorts," which will enjoy its New England premiere at JewishFilm.2011, The National Center for Jewish Film's 14th Annual Film Festival.
Paley was the child of Russian Jewish immigrants, who spent her life on the front lines of the feminist and anti-war movements, while also becoming the first state author of New York and poet laureate of Vermont. The documentary offers anecdotes from Paley's friends and colleagues, who recount her part in a variety of protests and resulting arrests, interspersed with her readings and interviews.
|Get your tickets for JewishFilm.2011
Admission to on-campus screenings is free to Brandeis faculty, staff and students (with ID). Ticketing for the off-campus community is $10/$8. Day-of-show tickets will likely be available for all shows, but e-mail to reserve your seat in advance. Tickets will be held at Will Call. For more information, call (781) 736-8600 during business hours.
For more information on each film and to view the schedule, visit the festival website.
Accordingly, filmmaker Lilly Rivlin divided the film into chapters, shaped to reflect Paley's short stories and to show glimpses of Paley in her many roles. The audience sees Paley, who died in 2007 at 84, as a poet, a fiction writer, an activist, a mother, a wife, a friend, a feminist and more.
"The film brings together all these different and compelling aspects of her life that are particularly meaningful," says Joyce Antler, the Samuel B. Lane Professor of American Jewish History and Culture and Women's and Gender. "It uncovers and reveals how they all fit together."
Antler, along with Rivlin and Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Co-Director and Joseph and Esther Foster Professor in Judaic Studies Sylvia Barack Fishman, will participate in a panel discussion to accompany the screening.
"Her message to writers, and perhaps we can carry it forth to those in scholarship, is that you can do it all at the same time," Antler says, hoping the film and discussion might inspire students.
A panel discussion with filmmaker Jonathan Gruber and Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History Jonathan Sarna will also accompany "Jewish Soldiers in Blue and Gray." The film gives voice, 150 years later, to the many Jewish soldiers whose part in the Civil War has gone largely unrecognized.
"I'm not familiar with any previous film that has surveyed this topic so broadly from beginning to end," Sarna says.
Sarna, who is also the editor of "Jews in the Civil War," and is featured as an expert in the film, says he's eager for audiences to understand the film's "fair-mindedness." It balances the views of the North and the South, and brings up the ethical questions of Jews as slave-owners.
"It was the Jews, after all, who were slaves themselves in Egypt and celebrate the festival of Passover each year," Sarna says. "How can they be slave-owners? Those kinds of issues are in play."
The 16 films that will be shown at 21 events as part of this year's festival are diverse, with a mix of documentary, drama and comedy. From "Gainsbourg," a biopic of the French Jewish singer and "Louder Than a Bomb," in a which a teen from urban Chicago recites his Jewish roots in the world's largest poetry slam, to "Precious Life," which chronicles a four-month-old Palestinian boy who needs a bone marrow transplant that can only be done in an Israeli hospital, many of them share a common thread: finding one's voice to effect change.