St. Louis Jewish Film Festival moving to new location

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The St. Louis Jewish Community Center – The J will host the 28th Annual St. Louis Jewish Film Festival from March 12 – 16. This year, the festival will return in-person and will be held for the first time at the Marcus Des Peres Cinema.

The festival presents a selection of documentary and feature films from around the world. While all films depict a piece of the Jewish experience, the themes are universal and are meant to appeal to all, regardless of faith.

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“This festival promises to be one of our strongest lineups of films in recent years. We have a great mix of features, documentaries, and even a film homage to Fiddler on the Roof which promises to be a big hit with audiences,” said Rabbi Brad Horwitz, Chief Jewish Engagement Officer. “We are also excited that Cinema St. Louis has agreed to co-sponsor the festival.”

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The festival will kick off on Sunday, March 12 with “Farewell Mr. Haffman” at 4pm. The French film is set in Paris 1942 and about François Mercier, who is an ordinary man who only aspires to start a family with the woman he loves, Blanche. He is also the employee of a talented jeweler, Mr. Mann. But faced with the German occupation, the two men will have no other choice but to conclude an agreement whose consequences, over the months, will upset the fate of our three characters.

The festival continues through March 16 with 14 films, ranging from countries like Israel, South Africa, Russia, Portugal, Austria and more.

Beginning February 1, updated information, trailers and complete film lineup and details, including ticket sales info will be available at stljewishfilmfestival.org.

Highlights include:

Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen
50 years and going strong…Follow director Norman Jewison in his quest to re-create the lost world of Jewish life in tsarist Russia and reimagine the beloved stage musical Fiddler on the Roof as a wide-screen film epic. This documentary features behind-the-scenes footage and never-before-seen stills as well as original interviews with Jewison, Topol, composer John Williams, production designer Robert F. Boyle, film critic Kenneth Turan, lyricist Sheldon Harnick, and actresses Rosalind Harris, Michele Marsh, and Neva Small (Tevye’s daughters) and original interviews with the Fiddler on the Roof cast and crew. Jeff Goldblum narrates.

Persian Lessons
A powerful, gut-wrenching story of survival…Nazi-occupied France, 1942. Gilles is arrested by the SS alongside fellow Jews and sent to a concentration camp. He narrowly avoids execution by swearing to the guards that he is not Jewish, but Persian. This lie temporarily saves him, but then he is assigned a life-or-death mission: to teach Farsi to the officer in charge of the camp’s kitchen. As the relationship between the two men begins to incite jealousy and suspicion, Gilles realizes that one false move could expose his swindle. Inspired by true events.

Bernstein’s Wall 
Epic and intimate…Leonard Bernstein was one of the 20th century’s towering icons, known for his work as a conductor, pianist, educator, author, and humanitarian, and most popularly, as the composer of West Side Story. The film highlights his struggle to balance his complex personal life with his career. It tells the story of the son of a Russian Jewish immigrant who became a superstar as the visionary and exuberant conductor of the New York Philharmonic and the face of classical music for the nation. Bernstein joyfully responded to the clamorous adulation of the times, matching his passion for music with an unyielding commitment to political engagement while wrestling with what he called “the demons” of his hidden sexuality.