Atlanta Jewish Film Festival: my review

By Counse from Flickr

By Counse from Flickr

Lucy Singer, Jewish Studies Editor

Since 2000, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) has brought Georgians of all backgrounds together to enjoy and learn from films about Jewish history and culture. The AJFF was founded by the Atlanta Regional Office of American Jewish Committee, a “global advocacy organisation” that uses “education, outreach, and diplomacy” to improve the wellbeing of Jewish people and Israel. The goal of this festival is to create a strong Jewish community in Atlanta as well as bring “Atlanta’s diverse cultural, ethnic and religious communities” together.

A standing poster promoting Atlanta Jewish Film Festival by Counse from Flickr

I decided to see “Shorts Program 3.” This program consisted of five short films: Wendy’s Shabbat, Bagels in the Blood, Rebel, Compartments, and The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm.

Wendy’s Shabbat, a ten minute documentary directed by Rachel Myers, follows two Jewish senior citizens who, with their group of friends, celebrate Shabbat at Wendy’s every Friday night for more than five years. This short showed how Judaism is so much more than a religion, it is a community full of traditions. There were many funny and cute moments as well as a few mournful scenes when one of the women talked about her late husband. I thoroughly enjoyed this unique short film.

The second film to show, Bagels in the Blood directed by Jonathan Keijser and Daniel Beresh, was another short documentary. This film was about a famous, family-owned, Jewish bagel bakery in French Montreal, Fairmount Bagels. The short featured Irwin Shlafman, the current owner of the bakery. He talked about his passion for bagels and the importance of Fairmount Bagels in his family. He reminisced about his deceased father and talked about his time as a young adult working with his father. Although I did not find the topic of this film extremely intriguing, it was interesting to listen to Shlafman speak about the importance of family-owned businesses and what they mean to the owners and the community.

The third film, Rebel directed by Oran Zigman, was by far my favorite of all the shorts. This film is about the director’s grandmother, Rivkah. Rivkah is trapped in an abusive marriage and a religious Jewish community in Israel during the 1950s. This beautifully made, emotional film showed instances of verbal and emotional abuse as well as Rivkah’s reputation as a “whore” stemming from her “disobeying” and leaving her husband.

Compartments, directed by Uli Seis and Daniella Koffler, is the only animated short film in Shorts Program 3. This artistic piece features a unique animation style that I very much enjoyed. It is about an Israeli woman who moves to Berlin, Germany. Her father has a hatred towards Germany because of the Holocaust and always told his daughter to never forgive them. When she moves to Germany, she struggles with the hateful words of her father and must overcome them in order to live happily in a country that once slaughtered her people. This moving film was alluring and enjoyable, as well as emotional.

The last film, The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm directed by Amy Schatz, follows a young boy and his conversation with his great-grandfather, a Holocaust survivor. They talked about his great-grandfather’s life before the war and the path that led to Auschwitz. I enjoyed watching the relationship dynamic of this pair and loved how inquisitive the ten-year-old boy was.