The Jacob Burns Film Center (JBFC) has announced a compelling lineup—featuring a robust mix of 41 documentaries and narratives—for the 17th annual Westchester Jewish Film Festival (WJFF), including all 10 episodes of The Writer, one of the latest in Israel’s brilliant streak of TV dramas. The festival spans two and half weeks from March 13–29, with all screenings and events taking place at JBFC, a nonprofit cultural arts center and one of the most successful suburban film houses in the country located in Pleasantville.
Opening night will feature the documentary Itzhak, a joyful, award-winning portrait of the extraordinary violinist Itzhak Perlman, followed by a Q&A with the renowned filmmaker Alison Chernick and a reception in the Jane Peck Gallery.
The festival features a special showcase of work by iconic actor Alan Arkin, including screenings of The In-Laws, Little Miss Sunshine, Glengarry Glen Ross and more. In addition, Arkin will participate in several Skype Q&As following specific screenings.
Highlights of this year’s array of new films from Israel and around the globe include:
• Eitan Anner’s A Quiet Heart, the story of a secular young woman in present day Jerusalem seeking refuge from the pressure of her life as a concert pianist;
• Amichai Greenberg’s The Testament, a provocative drama based on a true story about a meticulous historian leading a significant debate against holocaust deniers;
• Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz’s Fauda, a two-sided story of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The festival will feature a sneak preview of the first three episodes of Season 2 of the hit TV series--before it debuts on Netflix;
• Ferenc Török’s 1945 (Hungary), a complex and highly-lauded portrait of a society trying to come to terms with the horrors they’ve experienced;
• Nabil Ayouch’s Razzia (Morocco), which explores the forbidden desires and fragile dreams of five Moroccans living in Casablanca today;
• Festival Centerpiece - GI Jews: Jewish Americans in World War II, which tells the story of the 550,000 men and women who fought against Hitler, bigotry, and intolerance in defense of their religion and values; and
• Present/Absent, a work-in-progress documentary from JBFC inaugural Israeli Woman Filmmaker-in-Residence, Rozeen Bsharat that blurs the line between fact and fiction.
In addition to an international slate of engaging, thought-provoking films, there will be a variety of compelling filmmaker Q&As, including a special documentary double-feature event with Lily Rivlin, director of Heather Booth: Changing the World, and Leah Galant, JBFC Creative Culture Fellow and director of Death Metal Grandma.
This year’s program is curated once again by New-York based Programmer Bruni Burres. For over 20 years, Burres has worked at the intersection of arts, culture, and human rights as a festival director and curator, media educator, creative producer, and social media strategist. Burres is the cowriter and associate producer of Beyond My Grandfather Allende, which won Best Documentary at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. From 1991 to 2008, she was the director of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.
Visit https://burnsfilmcenter.org/film for the full lineup and program for this year’s festival.