Bob Bahr and Matthew Bernstein offered several dozen people what Bahr called “a better advance look than anyone in the city,” other than the film evaluation committee, at the top narrative films in this year’s Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
during their first Best Bets session Dec. 20 at Temple Sinai.
Over bags of popcorn, the two film experts listed seven must-see movies:
- “Wedding Doll,” starring Moran Rosenblatt, seen last year in “Apples From the Desert,” tells the story of a radiant young woman with a slight mental disability who dreams of love and independence from her divorced mother, who herself is torn between guilt over her care for her daughter and her desire for her own love life. “Films like this don’t usually get made,” Bahr said, calling it “a work of art.”
- “A Grain of Truth” is a Polish murder mystery set in a town with a historical obsession with the Jewish blood libel and tackles the issue of Polish anti-Semitism head-on, Bahr said. Calling the story a Polish “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” Bernstein said the film is “fantastic” and “totally absorbing.”
- Following the example of “Dr. Strangelove,” “Atomic Falafel” is a pure farce about Israel and Iran on the brink of nuclear war while adults behave badly and teens try to save the day. “What Jews do best is laugh at themselves and others,” Bahr said.
- Similar to German Oscar hopeful “Labyrinth of Lies,” “The People vs. Fritz Bauer” tells the true story of a German prosecutor trying to find Nazi war criminals despite obstacles from his own government.
- The key to “Mountain,” which shows the interior journey of an unhappy Orthodox housewife living on the Mount of Olives, is not to leave before the final five minutes, Bahr said. Bernstein said it’s his favorite of three films looking at Orthodox life.
- Like “A Grain of Truth,” “Fire Birds” is a murder mystery with terrific actors, although set amid the culture of Holocaust survivors in Israel. Unlike “Grain,” it is unexpectedly funny, Bernstein said. “This one has a special place in my heart.”
- “Remember,” being shown opening night only, is the story of Auschwitz survivors (played by Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau) seeking revenge before they and the Nazi officer who killed their families die. “We see older people in a way we generally don’t see them,” as men of action, Bahr said.