The 23rd annual JFilm, formerly known as the Pittsburgh Jewish-Israeli Film Festival, opens its 11-day run on Thu., April 7. The festival offers 21 recent films from Israel and around the world representing Jewish experiences from the comic to the dramatic, as presented through narrative features and documentaries.
Films screen at the following venues: Manor, in Squirrel Hill; Carmike 10, at South Hills Village; Seton Hill University, Greensburg; and Rodef Shalom, Oakland. Tickets for most films are $10-15 for adults and $5-6 for those under 18. For tickets and more information, call 412-992-5203 or visit www.JfilmPgh.org. Below are reviews for four films screening the first week:
REMEMBER. Atom Egoyan directs this drama about a pair of vengeful Auschwitz survivors. Zev (Christopher Plummer), who has dementia, escapes from his nursing home under the explicit written instructions of another resident, Max (Martin Landau). The plan is to find and kill a camp guard who killed their families, and who now lives in the U.S. as “Rudy Kurlander.” Though plagued with memory loss, Zev’s search leads him to several “Rudy Kurlanders.” The quest seems doomed: Though Max assures Zev he will recognize Kurlander, can he? And who would admit to being such a monster? The abilities to both remember and forget are critical to surviving trauma, and Zev, in his twilight, shifts uneasily from state to state. Eighty-six-year-old Plummer delivers a heartbreaking performance. In English, and some German, with subtitles. 5:30 p.m. Fri., April 8. Manor
THE THREE HIKERS. In 2009, three Americans on a hike in Iraq inadvertently crossed the Iranian border and were arrested. Natalie Avital’s documentary recounts the story of their capture and subsequent lengthy imprisonment, which spurred both grassroots and international diplomatic efforts to free them. It’s primarily a personal story, but with significant geopolitical angles. And in these days of bellicose posturing about “boots on the ground” solutions, it’s worth noting how this crisis between two longtime adversaries was resolved peacefully through diplomatic channels. The screening will be followed by a conversation with one of the hikers, Joshua Fattal. 3:45 pm. Sun., April 10. Manor
A GRAIN OF TRUTH. A new police detective in a small Polish town suspects that the answer to a series of grisly murders is among the secrets of the citizenry. And why would the killer be making allusions to the region’s long-ago superstitions about bloodthirsty Jews who performed ritual sacrifices on children? Borys Lankosz’s gritty thriller, sprinkled with tidbits from history, should find favor with fans of the genre. In Polish, with subtitles. 7 p.m. Sun., April 10. Manor
TOUCHDOWN ISRAEL. “To play tackle football in the Holy Land is really a dream,” says one burly dude. Paul Hirschberger’s documentary checks in with the small but growing Israel Football League. Multi-ethnic teams such as Judean Rebels, the Jerusalem Lions and the Haifa Underdogs meet and rumble, often on an ad hoc field. It’s a relatively new sport in Israel, but some of the players note that the game’s militaristic aspects appeal to the culture, even as the teams themselves find peaceable room for Jews and Arabs to play alongside each other. The screening will be followed by a conversation with former Pittsburgh Steeler Chris Hoke. In English, and Hebrew, with subtitles. 7:15 p.m. Mon., April 11. Manor