Jewish film festival launches June 19


The Jewish Film Festival is turning thirteen this year, so it is time for a bar mitzvah party. The 2008 Jewish Film Festival is set to run from Sunday, June 22 to Thursday, June 26, with a special advance event on June 19. The whole film fest takes place at the Landmark Plaza Frontenac Cinema, in the Plaza Frontenac shopping mall at Lindbergh Boulevard and Clayton Road.

The Jewish Film Festival’s bar mitzvah year kicks off with a preview event a few days before the festival really begins. The festival presents the St. Louis premiere of The Hope, a high-energy documentary that shines a spotlight on the growing musical genre of Jewish rock. Like the more established Christian rock, Jewish rock uses the popular music form and specifically Jewish lyrics to connect, or reconnect, young people with their Jewish faith. Jewish rocker Rick Recht, one of the stars of the genre and a St. Louis-based musician, gives high-energy concerts that get the audience on their feet, dancing and singing along.

The Jewish Film Festival preview event screening of The Hope takes place at 7 p.m., Thursday, June 19, at the Landmark Plaza Frontenac Cinema. A concert by Recht, who is featured in the film, follows the screening. Tickets are $15.

The Jewish Film Festival officially begins on Sunday, June 22, with a gala bar mitzvah event and the St. Louis premiere of Sixty-Six. Sixty-Six is a British comedy about a 1960s bar mitzvah gone wrong, starring Helena Bonham Carter and Stephen Rea. The “Celebrate Cinema” premiere party features a posh international bar mitzvah buffet at 6 p.m., with a choice of ticket to screenings of Sixty-Six at either 4:15 p.m. or 7:45 p.m. Tickets to the premiere event must be purchased in advance and are $95 per person. Dietary laws are observed for the buffet.

There are American films as well as films from the United Kingdom, Sweden, Belgium and France. There are four films from Israel, a mini-fest in honor of Israel’s sixtieth birthday.

The films cover a range of subjects. There are documentaries on the efforts to win freedom for Soviet Jews, the role Jews played in the evolution of professional basketball, a couple finding love in a concentration camp, a Mossad spy undercover in Egypt just to name a few. Coming of age is a common thread, with fictional films like Love and Dance and Sixty-Six. Secrets are a theme in dramas Four Weeks In June, Out Of Sight and A Secret.

Jewish Film Festival tickets are $10, except for the opening night screenings of Sixty-Six and preview event The Hope. They are on sale at that price through June 21 and are available at the Jewish Community Center Wohl Building in Creve Coeur. After June 21, the price per ticket is $11, and they are available at the Landmark Plaza Frontenac Cinema from the Festival Ticket Desk. The Festival Ticket Desk opens one hour before each film. Tickets are general admission and are non-refundable. For more information on the festival, patrons may call their hotline at 314-442-3179 or visit their website at