Houston Jewish Film Festival celebrates Jewish, Israeli culture
With its 15th annual Houston Jewish Film Festival, the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC of Houston brings some of the most entertaining and thought-provoking Jewish and Israeli film from around the world to venues across Houston this spring.
The March 30-April 10 festival presents audiences with 19 award-winning tales of Jewish lives, from shorts, to documentaries to feature films, and welcomes two special guests. On Tuesday, March 19, at 7:30 p.m. at the J, the Festival opens with a sneak preview of The Land of Milk and Funny. This laugh-out-loud documentary, directed by Larry Herbst, is about comedian Avi Liberman’s ongoing quest to bring top American comedians to Israeli audiences.
“Avi Liberman is a Houstonian, so we are even more excited about showing his film,” said Festival Chair Nada Chandler.
Liberman was born in Israel, grew up in Houston, and now lives in Los Angeles. He will attend the screening, perform a short comedy set prior to the film, and there will be a Q&A with Liberman afterwards. Since 2001, he has organized stand-up comedy tours in Israel. He donates all proceeds to a charity that benefits the Koby Mandell Foundation, which runs healing programs for families of terror victims in honor of Koby Mandell, an Israeli teen who was murdered in 2001. “Comedy for Koby” is now a biannual event with dozens of performers, and it generates a quarter of a million dollars in proceeds. Performers have included comics from programs such as The Tonight Show and David Letterman.
Another festival highlight this year includes Who Will Write Our History, written, produced and directed by Roberta Grossman, with Nancy Spielberg as executive producer. The riveting documentary, a story about resistance, will be shown on April 3 at 7:30 p.m. and April 5 at 1 p.m at the J. Grossman will attend the April 3 showing for a Q&A, her second appearance at the J.
In 2013, she attended the screening of her film Hava Nagila: The Movie. Who Will Write Our History tells the tale of the archivists of the Warsaw Ghetto, led by historian Emanuel Ringleblum, who feared that unless Jews wrote their own history, the Germans would write it for them. Ringleblum led a clandestine group to gather information about everyday life in the ghetto, vowing to defeat the Nazi propaganda with pen and paper. The documentary features the voices of three-time Academy Award nominee Joan Allen and Academy Award winner Adrien Brody.
“While our line-up offers films that will not be seen elsewhere in Houston, we are most proud to be screening Who Will Write Our History, which focuses on the importance of telling one’s own story,” Chandler said.
Screenings will be held at the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), Holocaust Museum Houston (HMH), Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston (MATCH), and two new venues in 2019, the Houston Museum of Natural Science and Houston Community College Spring Branch Campus. Visit erjcchouston.org/filmfest for a full festival guide.