The Jewish Museum and Film at Lincoln Center will present the 2021 New York Jewish Film Festival (NYJFF) virtually from January 13 through 26. Among the oldest and most influential Jewish film festivals worldwide, NYJFF each year presents the finest documentary, narrative, and short films from around the world that explore the Jewish experience. The festival’s 2021 virtual lineup showcases 17 features and seven shorts, including the latest works by dynamic voices in international cinema, as well as the World Premiere of the new restoration of a 1939 classic by Edgar G. Ulmer.
The Opening Night selection is Here We Are, a moving tale of parental devotion about a divorced dad who goes on a road trip with his son with autism. Winner of multiple Ophir Awards, including Best Director for Nir Bergman, the film examines the intricacies of love, disability, and community with gentle humor.
This year’s Centerpiece film is Winter Journey, co-directed by Anders Østergaard and Erzsébet Rácz and inspired by classical radio host Martin Goldsmith’s book, The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love. The late veteran actor Bruno Ganz stars in this father-son story based on the lives of Goldsmith and his musician parents, who fled Nazi Germany. Told with layered visuals and sounds, the film deftly combines history and drama.
The Closing Night selection is Irmi, a documentary that tells the inspiring story of Irmi Selver, a Jewish refugee who faced tragedy while escaping Nazi Germany in the 1930s but went on to live a long, resilient, and colorful life. Co-directed by Susan Fanshel and Veronica Selver (Irmi’s daughter), Irmi combines archival images, and interviews with a narration taken from Irmi’s memoirs and voiced by the legendary actress Hanna Schygulla.
Another notable film in this year’s festival is Shared Legacies: The African American-Jewish Civil Rights Alliance. This searing documentary delves deep into the longstanding relationship between Jewish and Black communities in the United States. Director and clinical therapist Dr. Shari Rogers shows how this union originated in a mutual recognition of the suffering of segregation, violence, and bigotry; and in the bonds of strength that emerged with the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909 and the rise of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the ’50s. But she also illustrates how this alliance has diminished in recent years. The film features archival footage and current interviews with leaders, witnesses, and activists, including the late Congressman John Lewis, UN Ambassador Andrew Young, the scholar Susannah Heschel, and many others. Shared Legacies is presented collaboratively by Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, the Jewish Museum, and Film at Lincoln Center. The film will be shown in the JCC’s Cinematters: NY Social Justice FIlm Festival, which takes place January 14-18.
The festival also includes the World Premiere of the National Center for Jewish Film’s new 4K digital restoration of Edgar G. Ulmer’s 1939 feature, The Light Ahead. Known as one of the greatest Russian shtetl films ever made, this restored classic—adapted from a Mendele Mokher Sforim tale—is a sweetly romantic part-comedy, part-satire.
Tickets must be purchased online. One rental per account. For ticketing assistance or questions about the virtual cinema, email email@example.com, call 212-875-5367, or use the chat function embedded on the lower-right corner of Film at Lincoln Center’s virtual cinema site.
For complete festival information, visit NYJFF.org.
Each film will be available for viewing beginning at 12pm EST. The films are available for streaming on Film at Lincoln Center’s Virtual Cinema website for 72 hours from their premiere time.