While the 29th annual Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival “pre-opened” on May 16 with a screening of the documentary “Next Year Jerusalem,” the festival formally kicks off on May 17 with World War II drama “Orchestra of Exiles.” This noteworthy international drama is centered on violinist Bronislaw Huberman, who saved close to 1,000 Jews, including some of Europe’s greatest musicians, from the Nazis.
What follows is an ambitious mix of genres and subjects, films that tackle everything from the moving story of an 18-year-old from an Orthodox Hasidic family who is pressured to marry the husband of her late sister (“Fill the Void”) to the chronicle of German-Jewish political theorist’s reports on the 1961 trial of ex-Nazi Adolf Eichmann (“Hannah Arendt”).
The first half of the festival runs each night through May 22 in the Amherst Dipson Theatre. Then, after a two-week break, the festival restarts at the JCC Benderson Seller Theatre, June 8-15.
Part of what makes the festival so unique is its mix of nationally and internationally renowned films with ambitious local-centric projects. One of the latter is “Blue Tattoo,” a documentary on the friendship between Holocaust survivor Dina Jacobson, an Elmira resident, and Ithaca singer-songwriter Joe Crookston. (The film is directed by local journalist Rich Kellman, formerly of WGRZ-TV/Channel 2, and produced by Kellman and Marty Kerker.)
Another is “The Rich Have Their Own Photographers,” a 60-minute account of Milton Rogovin’s life and work. The acclaimed social documentarian was famously called before the House of Un-American Activities Committee in the fifties, a life experience that fueled his photographs of residents of the Queen City’s Lower West Side.
For the complete schedule and more information, visit bijff.com.