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JFilm

The annual festival offers nearly two dozen films from Israel and around the world representing Jewish experiences from the comic to the dramatic

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The 23rd annual JFilm, formerly known as the Pittsburgh Jewish-Israeli Film Festival, continues through Sun., April 17. The festival offers recent films from Israel and around the world representing Jewish experiences from the comic to the dramatic, as presented through narrative features and documentaries. (For complete schedule, see www. JFilmPgh.org.) Below are reviews for three documentaries screening this weekend:

PRESENTING PRINCESS SHAW. Ido Haar’s engaging documentary captures some of the wonderful — and meaningful — human interaction that can be spawned by our various depersonalizing machines. By day, Samantha Montgomery works in a New Orleans elderly facility. But at night, on the Internet, she is Princess Shaw, sharing her raw, soulful songs (and her hard-luck life story) through YouTube. That’s where Kutiman discovers her; he is an Israeli experimental composer who creates new works by mashing up individual found videos. From this random connection comes a touching story, reminding us about perseverance, and the strange beautiful things that technology makes possible. In English, and Hebrew, with subtitles. 9 p.m. Sat., April 16. Manor

PLASTIC MAN: THE ARTFUL LIFE OF JERRY ROSS BARRISH. Today, Northern Californian Jerry Ross Barrish collects plastic scrap and refashions it into whimsical sculptures of people and animals, while pushing back at the fine-art world’s disdain for plastic. But his past is as colorful as the plastic scraps he collects, as Will Farley’s documentary profile explains. Born into a family of “tough Jews” — his father was a boxer and palled around with mobsters — Barrish opened a bail-bond shop in San Francisco in the early 1960s. He quickly established himself as the go-to bondsman for the radical left. Later, he became an indie filmmaker. But nearing retirement and feeling at creative loose ends, Barrish explains, “This plastic stuff spoke to me.” After the screening, Barrish will join others in a discussion about art; there will also be an I Made It! Market in the lobby. 12:30 p.m. Sun., April 17. Manor

CARTOONISTS: FOOT SOLDIERS OF DEMOCRACY. Stephanie Valloatto’s timely doc takes viewers around the world to hear from political cartoonists, many working under the fear of reprisal in countries fraught with political tensions and violence. (This film predates the Charlie Hebdo attack of last year.) Working cartoonists discuss their process (how best to caricature) and goals — in Burkina Faso, cartoons must work for an illiterate population. The film is a bit shaggy, but there is some fascinating material here about the power of political cartoons. We might dismiss their influence, but it’s telling that those in power do not. To be followed by a conversation with Rob Rogers, editorial cartoonist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In English, and various languages, with subtitles. 4:30 p.m. Sun., April 17. Manor


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