I may have been the last Jewish person under 40 in Atlanta who hadn’t been to an ACCESS- sponsored event. But no more. The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival’s young professionals night, presented by ACCESS, on Saturday, Feb. 11, was my first.
Walking into a large room at the Woodruff Arts Center that was filled with people of different ethnicities and cultures gathered in groups and chatting with drinks in their hands was no doubt different from most Jewish events I’ve attended.
In the hour of socializing before the film began, I met someone from the National Black Arts Festival, chatted with a representative from Muslims for Progressive Values, introduced myself to a visitor from the German Cultural Center, and accidentally spilled wine on a Jewish founder of Goza Tequila.
It was a busy night.
While the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival might be self-explanatory in its title, I wasn’t familiar with ACCESS, the young professional organization of American Jewish Committee, and why as a Jewish organization it was sponsoring such a seemingly diverse event.
As most Jewish people under 40 can tell you, there’s no shortage of organizations for us around town, and it can be difficult to keep track. What sets ACCESS apart is specifically the community building it does among different religious and cultural groups around Atlanta.
For this event, ACCESS partnered with 15 organizations representing everything from LGBTQ to German to Muslim to African-American to Jewish people around the community. ACCESS has a variety of events throughout the year that reflect that kind of inclusive nature.
Brandon Goldberg, a member of the steering committee for ACCESS, said: “We focus on policies and what those plans mean for different communities. Most of our events have a learning component of some kind and focus on community building while engaging the community.”
That was evident in the film chosen for the night, and close to every seat in the 420-person theater was taken. Representatives from the film festival and ACCESS selected “Family Commitments,” a film with its share of warring ethnicities and family dysfunction.
Jewish David and Arab Khaled (Maximilian von Pufendorf and Omar El-Saeidi) attempt to shatter the taboos of a same-sex marriage in middle-class German society. The complexities of family and tradition thicken the plot, but all is seen through a multicultural lens.
It was an apt film for the theme of the night, and as ACCESS continues to do more around Atlanta to promote inclusion and diversity throughout the community, I’ll likely be at more events.
“It’s not just about getting people together,” Goldberg said. “It’s about getting people together to make a difference.”