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New digs for JCC Jewish film festival
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New digs for JCC Jewish film festival

Capacity crowds lead organizers to larger theater

The Debt
The Debt

The JCC of Central New Jersey’s Jewish Film Festival, which began in 2005, has proved so popular that this year it is moving to a new, larger venue.

The 350-seat AMC Mountainside 10 Theatre in Mountainside will be the site of the JCC’s Fifth Annual Jewish Film Festival, which will take place on five Wednesdays, from Oct. 14 through Nov. 11.

Three feature films from Israel, an autobiographical drama from France, and a documentary from the United States will be shown; four of the five have garnered awards at major film festivals.

Festival organizer Michele Dreiblatt, the JCC’s director of cultural arts and education, said that last year, the four films screened at the Rialto Cinema in Westfield each drew a capacity audience of 265. Since then, the Rialto has been renovated and the number of its seats reduced. “We didn’t want to have to turn people away,” Dreiblatt said, but she is still urging festival fans to reserve seats early.

A committee of 12 people, headed up by Lisa Israel and Vivian Toporek, selected the movies and rallied sponsors, who have come forward in greater numbers than ever before — more welcome proof of the festival’s popularity.

“Truthfully, I think we could have shown six or seven films, but we decided to take baby steps and go up to five,” Toporek said. She saw at least 35 films in the selection process. “My theory is that if people walk out of a cinema talking about what they’ve just seen, we’ve succeeded, and I know that’s going to happen with these films. There really is something for everyone — humor and drama and nostalgia.”

The festival will open on Oct. 14 with The Little Traitor, based on a novel by Amos Oz about an unlikely friendship between a 12-year-old boy (played by Ido Port) and a British sergeant (Alfred Molina) in pre-statehood Israel.

Memory will be shown Oct. 21. Adapted from Philippe Grimbert’s autobiographical novel about a Jewish family in post-World War II Paris, it recounts 15-year-old Francois discovering shattering truths about his parents’ relationship to the Holocaust.

The Debt, a psychological thriller about three Israeli Mossad agents and their decades-long search for a notorious Nazi war criminal, is the Oct. 28 offering.

For My Father will be screened Nov. 4.

Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, Aviva Kempner’s documentary about Gertrude Berg, aka Molly Goldberg, will be presented Nov. 11. Guest speaker Adam Berg will share memories of his multi-talented grandmother, who wrote the scripts and starred in the show that made audience favorites of a loving, argumentative Jewish family.

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