Following its spectacular success in 2013, the annual Jewish International Film Festival (JIFF) returns to Sydney and Melbourne at the end of October. It will tour Perth, the Gold Coast and New Zealand for the first time, too. With an incredibly rich global selection of 49 award-winning features, documentaries and shorts, the 2014 JIFF program promises to bare the soul of this fascinating and continually evolving culture.
Under the vibrant guidance of Festival Director Eddie Tamir, JIFF is proud to present 47 Australian premiere screenings within 11 enticing categories, introducing us to notable Jewish figures, past and present, from the irrepressible vaudeville headliner Sophie Tucker, cultural critic Susan Sontag, and renowned Israeli writer Etgar Keret to legendary actor Theodore Bikel whose writings celebrate the joyous medley of Yiddish culture.
Striking a bold chord, the provocative, universally acclaimed drama Gett, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem will open JIFF in each city. Recently named Best Picture at both the 2014 Ophir Awards (Israeli Oscars) and Jerusalem Film Festival, this compelling French/German/Israeli co-production, which screened as part of Directors’ Fortnight at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, affords a rare insight into the rabbinical court and its treatment of women as we follow the five-year quest of Viviane Amsalem to obtain a ‘gett’ (Jewish divorce) amidst a process where tragedy and absurdity abound.
Above and Beyond, a riveting documentary that encapsulates the indomitable Jewish spirit, will screen on Closing Night. In 1948 as rumours swirled about Israel’s emergence as an ‘officially’ recognized Jewish state, surrounding Arab armies began to circle. This led to the formation of the ‘Machal’—a group of WWII plots who volunteered to fight for Israel in the War of Independence. Ironically using discarded German uniforms and planes abandoned by the German army, which they repaired with scavenged parts, these fearless men changed history and lay the foundation for Israel’s modern-day air force.
What lies between these two masterful offerings is a selection of outstanding features and documentaries sourced from Israel, Germany, France, USA, the Philippines, Switzerland and Ireland that will enthrall, inform and captivate audiences from both within and beyond the Jewish community.
Here are just a few highlights of the 2014 JIFF line-up:
The Farewell Party (Israel)
Category: Triumph of the Spirit
Nominated in 14 categories at the 2014 Ophir Awards, this off-beat comedy, which won the Venice Day’s People’s Choice Award at the 2014 Venice Film Festival, is a compassionate tale about life, death and friendship. Ezikiel and his friends at a Jerusalem retirement home build a euthanasia machine to help their terminally ill friend. When rumours of the machine begin to spread, more and more people ask for their help, and the group is faced with an emotional and ethical dilemma.
Zero Motivation (Israel)
Category: Hamatzav (The Situation)
One of Israel’s most successful and critically feted films of recent years, this is an army story with a difference! At a remote army base in southern Israel, amidst absurd bureaucracy, three female clerical staff engage in battles armed with staple guns and paper shredders. A poignant black comedy about the often-overlooked female soldiers who undergo compulsory military service in offices all over Israel.
The Outrageous Sophie Tucker (USA)
Category: All the World’s a Stage
Before Mae West, Bette Midler, Madonna and Lady Gaga, Sophie Tucker enchanted audiences with her bold, bawdy and brassy style. This documentary covers the early days of this iconic vaudeville superstar’s career as she ruled 1920s flapper culture in the USA.
For the 2014 Festival Program visit: http://jiff.com.au/wp-content/uploads//2014/09/JIFF_2014_Program_small.pdf