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The Pittsburgh Jewish-Israeli Film Festival

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The 12th annual Pittsburgh Jewish-Israeli Film Festival continues with its second week of feature films and documentaries representing Jewish experiences. Films will screen through Sun., April 17, at three area theaters including SouthSide Works Cinema, on the South Side (412-381-7335); the Galleria, in Mount Lebanon (1500 Washington Rd., 412-531-5551); and the Carmike 15 in Greensburg (Westmoreland Mall, Route 30, 724-834-1190). Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $5 for students. For tickets and more information, see www.pjiff.net or call 412-992-5203.

 

 

The second week's selections are as follows:

 

BECOMING RACHEL. Pittsburgh-based filmmaker Amy Guterson incorporates stories told by her grandmother to spin a fable about young Rachel, who helps her family during the Depression. The 45-minute film was shot in Pittsburgh, and the screening will be followed by a discussion with the cast and crew. To be screened via video projection. 3 p.m. Sun., April 10. SouthSide Works

 

BONJOUR MONSIEUR SHLOMI. In Shemi Zarhin's coming-of-age comedy/drama, 16-year-old Shlomi (Oshri Cohen) is the default peacemaker in his fractured family, managing his infirm grandfather, his neurotic mother and sister, his jerky brother and his banished father. He's failing school and tormented by romantic crushes, and finds his only pleasure in cooking gourmet meals. The film, while always engaging, spins Shlomi's tale of passive woe out a trifle too long, and when his liberation finally comes it feels rushed. Cohen is a soulful young actor, though, who is easy to root for. In Hebrew, with subtitles. 7:30 p.m. Wed., April 6 (Carmike 15); 8:40 p.m. Sat., April 9 (SouthSide Works); and 7:30 p.m. Mon. April 11 (Galleria). (Al Hoff)

 

COLOMBIAN LOVE. Some troubles are universal -- like the way today's commitment-phobic men become nervous wrecks when marriage looms. In Shay Kanot's comedy, three young Israeli males get high, get laid and get seriously confused en route to settling down. It's a familiar plot, leavened occasionally by a few inspired bits (the stoned rabbi who extols the benefits of parking spaces), but also lumbered with an increasingly unfunny subplot about a set of intractable in-laws. To be followed by a reception featuring Israeli food and music (RSVP to 412-992-5223 or jursiak@UJFpittsburgh.org). In Hebrew, with subtitles. 4:15 p.m. Sun., April 10. SouthSide Works (AH)

 

LIKE A BRIDE. Guita Schyfter's period drama set in Mexico City during the early 1960s uses two young women to illustrate the joys and dilemmas of the Jewish immigrant experience. Oshi is the granddaughter of traditional Jews who emigrated from Turkey in the 1920s and are established in city's solid Jewish working class; she is expected to marry a nice Jewish boy. Her friend Rifke, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, belongs to a Zionist youth group, dabbles in Latin American socialism and loves an upper-middle-class Mexican boy. Oshi and Rifke are the lucky children of a modern, peaceful world, and their desires for romantic love, self-fulfillment and education run counter to their families' expectations -- even as their parents reluctantly admit the costs of remaining insular and traditional. In Spanish and Yiddish, with subtitles. 7:30 p.m. Tue., April 12. SouthSide Works (AH)

 

NINA'S TRAGEDIES. (See review.) 7 p.m. Sun., April 10. SouthSide Works

 

NO. 17. When a bomb kills 17 passengers on a bus outside Tel Aviv in 2002, only 16 bodies are claimed. A badly burned man -- No. 17 -- remains unidentified, until filmmakers David Ofek and Ron Rotem set out to solve the mystery. While their detection is as fascinating as any TV crime-analysis program, No. 17 also uncovers the intersecting strata of folk who comprise contemporary Israel -- Asian and African guest workers, Russian tourists, youthful soldiers and phlegmatic cops -- as well as their shared humanity. While a former military officer makes the best suggestion for zeroing in on No. 17, the documentary's key participant may be the very perceptive Identikit illustrator who understands that witnesses have seen more than they realize -- if they are only asked the right questions. The film's producer, Elinor Kowarsky, will speak following the screening. In English and Hebrew, with subtitles. To be screened by video projection. 7:30 p.m. Thu., April 14. SouthSide Works (AH)

 

PAPER CLIPS. When the mostly Christian and Caucasian middle-school students of tiny Whitwell, Tenn., begin studying the history of the Holocaust, they struggle to understand the concept of six million murdered Jews. In an attempt to grasp the totality of the horror, they begin collecting paper clips: one for each victim. But once NBC News and the Washington Post pick up the story, the project takes on a life of its own; boxes of paper clips and heartfelt letters start pouring in from around the nation, and soon, the world. Two German journalists even track down a Holocaust-era railcar, which now houses the clips and serves as a memorial in Whitwell. But Joe Fab and Elliot Berlin's documentary succeeds not only as a poignant history lesson: It's also as an inspirational and often tear-jerking call-to-arms. If mere children can affect an entire community, the film seems to say, just think of the change the rest of us could inspire. 1 p.m. Sun., April 10. SouthSide Works (Dan Eldridge)

 

RASHEVSKI'S TANGO. When matriarch Rosa Rashevski dies, her death sets off some serious questioning of identity in the family. Though Jewish, Rosa had no use for religion or rabbis, and her decidedly mixed family of Reform, Orthodox, non-observant and interfaith-married Jews examine their heritage and what it means to be Jewish in the modern world. A gentle ensemble comedy directed by Sam Garbarski, Rashevski's Tango takes no stand on any of the characters or the decisions they make regarding their lives or the paths they chose to walk into their futures. A Belgian/French/Luxemburg co-production, Garbarski's directorial debut remains intimate and subtle throughout. His predilection for tight close-ups, and the resulting claustrophobia, sometimes works against the charm of the story, but Garbarski has, ultimately, fashioned a sweet and surreptitiously emotional film. In French, with subtitles. 7:30 p.m. Wed., April 13, and 4 p.m. Sun., April 17. SouthSide Works (Ted Hoover)

 

SEEDS. Founded in 1993 by journalist John Wallach, Seeds of Peace is an annual summer camp where teens from conflicting nations -- Israel and Palestine, India and Pakistan -- are brought together in woodsy Maine to work out their myriad differences on neutral territory. Appropriating the confessional-booth style of reality TV, co-directors Joseph Boyle and Marjan Safinia follow various campers and camp leaders (often former "seeds" themselves) through an emotion-filled three weeks of group therapy sessions and Outward Bound-style exercises. Predictably, tight bonds are formed among some of the most unlikely contenders, although sadly, many of the campers' young minds -- and hearts -- remain tightly closed. The film's pacing is often sluggish; instead of introducing us to dozens of separate campers, shadowing three or four exclusively might have made for a more provocative tale. Still, Seeds is an intriguing look at a truly honorable and life-affecting experiment. To be screened by video projection. 7:30 p.m. Thu., April 7. SouthSide Works. (DE)

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