FROM A REAL-LIFE World War II spy thriller to two enemies surviving together in the middle of the desert to a touching story about a son with special needs reconnecting with the father who abandoned him, the 14th annual Jewish Film Festival of Central NJ offers an eclectic cinematic mix. The festival runs April 24-May 20 at the New Vision Rialto Theatre in Westfield; the five screenings all start at 7:30 p.m.
The opening film, on Wednesday, April 24, is the true thriller “The Catcher Was a Spy,” starring Paul Rudd as Boston Red Sox catcher turned World War II spy Moe Berg, whose assignment is to assassinate a Nazi atomic scientist. The cast also includes Guy Pearce, Connie Nielsen, Mark Strong, Paul Giamatti, Tom Wilkinson, and Giancarlo Giannini.
“Azimuth,” on Tuesday, April 30, is a feature taking place at the end of the 1967 Six-Day War, when two soldiers, an Egyptian and an Israeli, encounter each other in the Sinai Desert. It’s the story of two soldiers with one goal: survival.
“Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel,” on Monday, May 6, charts the journey of Israel’s national baseball team, underdogs competing for the first time in the World Baseball Classic. Shlomo Lipetz — a professional pitcher who played for Team Israel and who will be pitching for the Israeli National Team this summer on their quest to qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan — will take part in a post-screening discussion of this story of sports, patriotism, and personal growth.
“Shoelaces,” showing on Tuesday, May 14, was nominated for eight Ophir Awards (Israel’s Oscars), with Dov Glickman winning for Best Supporting Actor. This family dramedy is about the knotty relationship between an aging, irascible mechanic and the exuberant special-needs son he abandoned long ago.
Closing night on Monday, May 20, will feature “Rescue Bus 300,” the previously untold true story of four armed terrorists who hijacked bus No. 300 en route from Tel Aviv to Ashkelon in 1980. They led the passengers — 41 civilians — toward Gaza. The controversial resolution of the crisis caused turmoil in Israel.
The JCC of Central NJ Jewish Film Festival is made possible by the Union County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, a partner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Tickets cost $14, $12 for JCC members, seniors (62-plus), and students, in advance; $15 general admission (for all ages) at the door. A series subscription costs $65, $55 for JCC members, seniors, and students. Sponsorships with added benefits are available.
For tickets and information, contact 908-889-8800, ext. 208, or visit jccnj.org.