Recapping the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival


A scene from “The Chop”

Mattie Rosen, Web Editor

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival is held annually to present films “relevant to Jewish life” to the local Jewish community. The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) is Atlanta’s largest film festival, and as of 2015 is the largest Jewish film festival in the world. This year, it spanned from January 24th to February 15th, giving audiences the opportunity to view over 50 different films, including short films, documentaries, and narratives, throughout 202 individual screenings.

After almost every film, guest speakers hold a session to answer any questions the audience may have about the film. After watching “The Freedom to Marry,” which won the Audience Award for Best Documentary, one of the lead attorneys in the fight to “guarantee the right of same-sex couples to marry,” Evan Wolfson, spoke to the audience about his views on the film’s portrayal of the fight and answered the audience’s questions. The documentary itself was incredibly moving, as it illustrated the intense struggle and friction within this civil rights movement. The film provided perspectives and narratives from both sides of the argument: LAMBDA Legal attorneys shared the screen with religious figures and followers protesting against a possible same-sex marriage legislation.

People at the AJFF could also attend the Short Film screenings. Within one of these screening packages was an eclectic array of films focusing on issues and conversations that members of the modern Jewish community can apply to their daily lives. For example, “The Chop” is a short film about a young, Jewish butcher who is fired from a kosher deli. The only job available is at a halal meat shop; the young man must navigate his interactions with his fellow butchers carefully, as he fears a dangerous outcome will occur if they find out he is Jewish. As serious and timely as this topic is, “The Chop” manages to bring about this conflict in a humorous, light-hearted way – the Arabic butchers are not portrayed as violent or menacing, and this film’s director balances the humor of the story and the gravity of the tense Jewish-Arab relations we see today.

The vast array of depictions of Jewish life emphasizes the diversity within the Jewish community, even within the local Sandy Springs area. Every film offers something different to the audience, which allows Jews from all walks of life, regardless of their varying ideologies and traditions, to watch films that apply to their respective beliefs.
The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival will be holding a “Day of Encores” on Sunday, March 5th. Please visit the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival website to learn more about ticket prices and specific screening times.