Athens Steps Into Jewish Film Spotlight

Athens Steps Into Jewish Film Spotlight

By Rebecca McCarthy “Run Boy Run” opens the festival.

The seventh-annual Athens Jewish Film Festival features 12 full-length films and three short films and runs from Saturday, March 14, to Wednesday, March 18. All the movies will be shown at Cine, a downtown Athens theater.

“When Abe and Carmen [Tesser] started it, they did it all,” said Renee Brown, this year’s festival president. “It was tough, and they were phenomenal.”

But today, she said, the responsibilities have been segmented so that different committees handle what needs to be done: a committee to review the submissions; a committee planning the opening gala; a committee raising money and finding sponsors; and a committee encouraging restaurants to donate food.

“It’s a great board,” said Brown, a retired school superintendent from Taliaferro County. “When somebody says they’ll take care of something, it gets done. I’ve been on other boards where that’s not the case.”

The festival kicks off March 14 with a gala at the Georgia Museum of Art. The celebration includes dinner and film, as well as a visit from Christoph Sander, the German consul general in Atlanta, who is sponsoring the showing of “Run Boy Run.”

The movie is based on a story by Uri Orlev.

The film focuses on Srulik, an 8-year-old Jewish boy who in 1942 runs away from the Warsaw Ghetto. He lives alone in the forest, then makes his way to a Polish farm where he’s known as Jurek, a Christian child. As he moves and hides, he is in mortal danger from the Germans and at risk of losing his Jewish identity.

Here are the other movies in the festival:

Sunday, March 15

  • “Igor and the Cranes’ Journey,” 12:30 p.m. A young crane named Karl brings together an estranged father and son. The two are tracing a family of birds on a migratory journey from Russia to Africa.
  • “Hunting Elephants,” 2:30 p.m. A grandfather, his grandson and two elderly friends decide to rob a Jerusalem bank.
  • “Run Boy Run,” 5:30 p.m.
  • “24 Days,” 8 p.m. Anti-Semitism in France is brought into sharp focus in this story of the real kidnapping of a 23-year-old French Jewish man in 2006 and his family’s anguished response. This film played at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.

Monday, March 16

  • “Life in Stills,” 4 p.m. This documentary introduces us to a photo shop owner and her grandson. The woman is being evicted, and she and her grandson team up to save the shop and its almost 1 million negatives chronicling historic moments in Israel’s life.
  • “The Sturgeon Queens,” 5:15 p.m. Russ and Daughters is a Lower East Side lox and herring business in New York that is frequented by the famous and by celebrities. This documentary shows the evolution of the business, which was started by Jewish immigrants. The fourth generation of the immigrant family is working in the emporium. Featured is an interview with the two elderly Russ daughters for whom the store was named.
  • “Cupcakes,” 6:45 p.m. A group of friends in Tel Aviv aren’t impressed by the Israeli entry for “UniverSong.” They think they can do better, and they do, enduring the harsh spotlight of fame.
  • “Zaytoun,” 8:30 p.m. In 1982 Beirut, a young Palestinian refugee helps an Israeli fighter pilot escape from PLO captivity. The youngster wants to visit his family’s ancestral home. As the two travel through war-torn Lebanon, they become close friends.

Tuesday, March 17

  • “The Return,” 4 p.m. This documentary tells the story of four young Polish women who were raised Catholic but learn they are really Jewish. They join an emerging, struggling Jewish community in Poland. This film played at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.
  • “The Prime Ministers: Soldiers and Peacemakers,” 6:15 p.m. The second part of a documentary history of Israel offers an insider’s view of the nation’s emergence and leadership. This film played at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.
  • “Hanna’s Journey,” 8:30 p.m. Driven and political, Berlin business major Hanna is determined to polish her résumé and boost her self-confidence by traveling to Israel. There, she volunteers with the mentally challenged, finds herself slowly becoming interested in German history and her family’s history, and discovers a romantic interest.

Wednesday, March 18

  • Short films, 5 p.m. “The Funeral,” “Tightrope” and “Hannah Cohen’s Holy Communion.”
  • “The Third Half,” 6:30 p.m. Macedonia is taken over by the Serbs and told it no longer exists. Determined to build the best soccer club possible, Dimitry hires the German coach, Rudolph Spitz, who is Jewish, to galvanize his team. Dimitry’s plans change when the German tanks roll through town and his star player elopes with the Jewish daughter of a local banker.

To purchase tickets, visit A pass good for all festival films is $45. The opening gala is $65.

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