A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

Get daily updates delivered right to your inbox

‘Escape the Ordinary’ at 29th Jewish Film Festival


Plenty is new for the 29th annual St. Louis Jewish Film Festival, which takes place April 7-18: a new location, an All-Access Pass, a return to an all-theater experience and a new director. But one thing has not changed: a great lineup of insightful, inspiring and uplifting films with Jewish themes. 

The title of this year’s festival is “Escape the Ordinary,” and it does that with films that speak to today, films that touch the heart, bring a laugh or a tear, films that make it worthwhile to come out to the theater to share the experience with others.

“This year’s St. Louis Jewish Film Festival is one of the best ever,” said festival co-chair Marilyn Brown. “We have a really strong lineup of films — dramas, documentaries, comedies, etc. There is absolutely something for everyone to enjoy. Films that will make you think, bring you tears, and give you a good belly laugh.”

The festival boasts 10 feature films and six short films from eight countries, including Israel, in English, Hebrew, Italian and French (with subtitles, of course). 

So, what’s new this year? 

“I would say ‘what’s different’ is one of the themes this year. It seems like nearly everything is different,” said John Wilson, the Jewish Community Center’s director of cultural arts, and director of the festival. 

The festival has expanded to six days of screenings from five, spread out over two weeks. Films will be shown at a new venue, the B&B Theatres Creve Coeur West Olive 10, 12657 Olive Blvd. 

The new All Access Festival Pass is already sold out, said Wilson, who encourages film fans not to delay buying tickets to individual films.  

The festival kicks off Sunday, April 7, with a program Celebrating Israeli Filmmakers from Sapir College in Sderot, Israel. The college is located in the western Negev near Gaza but was closed on Oct. 7 when Hamas launched its brutal border attacks. When the college shut down, the students in its top-notch film program were in the last weeks of completing their final film projects, which were supposed to be shown at the annual Cinema South Festival. It was canceled because of the war. The college only reopened its campus for classes in late March, according to Israeli news site ynetnews.com.

Five of the short films made at the Sapir Academic Campus School of Film & Television Studies will be presented beginning at 4 p.m. One of the producers, Yasmin Hoffman, who produced “Elinor,” will attend. More details on the festival’s opening day can be found in a Jewish Light article published March 20 (and online at stljewishlight.org).

Another festival highlight will be a comedy double feature on Tuesday, April 9, with “My Neighbor Adolf” at 3:30 p.m. and “Remembering Gene Wilder” at 7. Separate tickets are needed for each film. “My Neighbor Adolf” is an English-language Israeli/UK/German dark comedy set shortly after Mossad abducted Nazi Party official Adolf Eichmann from Argentina. In the film, a reclusive Shoah survivor living in rural South America begins to suspect his new German neighbor (Udo Kier) is Adolf Hitler.

The documentary “Remembering Gene Wilder” is the favorite festival film of co-chairs Brown and Paula Sigel. Glenn Kirschbaum, the film’s writer and co-director, will be in attendance and will speak before and after the film.

On Thursday, April 11, a pair of films fitting the theme “Overcoming Adversity” will be shown. “Exodus 91,” a creative, thought-provoking Israeli docudrama based on real life efforts to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel, will screen at 3:30 p.m. “The Way to Happiness,” a Belgian, French-language drama-comedy, will screen at 7. Set in 1987, the film is about a man who escaped the Holocaust as a “hidden child  and now runs a movie-themed deli. When he suddenly falls for a woman, he finds he must confront his past. 

Sunday, April 14, is “Lovers’ Sunday,” with Israeli romantic comedy “Matchmaking” — which Brown calls the  don’t-miss comedy of the festival — at 3:30 p.m., and “The Story of Annette Zelman,” a French romantic drama based on a true story, showing at 7. 

Films on Tuesday, April 16, are themed “Laugh and Love,” including a showing of two short films at 3:30 (“Heritage Day” and short feature documentary “The Catskills”) for one admission. At 7 p.m., the festival will screen the full-length feature “Love Gets a Room,” inspired by true events surrounding a theater troupe that puts on plays during the Nazi occupation of Poland.

 “A majority of the action takes place on the stage in the theater where they perform,” said Wilson, who counts the film as one of his favorites of the festival. “It’s riveting, romantic, musical and very compelling storytelling.”

The festival closes out Thursday, April 16, with “Arts and Romance,” featuring “Vishniac” at 3:30 p.m., a documentary about one of the 20th century’s foremost photographers, Roman Vishniac, and “The Shadow of the Day,” an Italian 1930s-set romance, at 7 p.m. 

The festival is dedicated to the late Jeffrey Korn, its longtime co-chair. 

“We lost our third co-chair, Jeffrey Korn, this past fall,” Wilson said. “It was unanimous among the committee that this year’s festival would be entirely dedicated to Jeffrey’s memory and the stalwart work he did while serving on the festival committee for years and years.”

Sigel said: “Jeffrey was such an integral part of the festival for many years. He will be greatly missed. We will miss his jovial smile, and all the time and energy he spent to make each year a success.”

St. Louis Jewish Film Festival

WHEN: April 7 – 18

WHERE:  B&B Theatres Creve Coeur West Olive 10, 12657 Olive Blvd. in Creve Coeur

HOW MUCH: Ticket prices are $20 for the opening day program, and $15 for other films

MORE INFO:  Visit stljewishfilmfestival.org. Tickets are available online or through the Jewish Community Center box office at the Staenberg Family Complex’s Arts & Education Building, 2 Millstone Campus Drive (open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Festival brochures are available at the J, as well as at some synagogues and businesses.

More to Discover